Call for Public Inquiry on the G20

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association released “Breach of the Peace – G20 Summit: Accountability in Policing and Governance” on February 28, 2011. The report was written after public consultation jointly hosted with the National Union of Public and General Employees. Downloaded it


or by visiting the CCLA website:

The Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association encourages you to read the report and stands with CCLA in calling for a public inquiry. The conduct of the police during the G20 and the infringement of Canadians’ constitutional rights should be a worry for all Canadians. The CCLA reminds us that the right of assembly is not absolute, rather that peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are core to the functioning of our democracy. Erosion of these rights takes away not only Canadians’ civil liberties, but also erodes the foundations of our democracy itself. The degree to which these rights have or have not been infringed upon and eroded must be publicly questioned and examined.

The report states, “All government action in Canada, including security operations, must be carried out in a manner that is respectful of legal and constitutional standards, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In the context of the policing of large scale public demonstrations, the following Charter rights are most directly engaged:
• freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression;
• freedom of peaceful assembly;
• the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure
• the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

These rights and freedoms go to the very core of Canada’s democratic society and must be infused into all phases of security planning involving the policing of public protests. This is not to say that the right to protest is absolute. Indeed, the rights of protesters must be reconciled with the interests of members of the general public, foreign dignitaries, police officers and others. Protecting the right to protest, however, must be a central objective in security planning, not an afterthought. As one report has noted, governments planning large-scale security operations must, “demonstrate explicit consideration of the facilitation of peaceful protest throughout the planning process and the execution of the operation or operations.”

In a democratic society, such as Canada, this requires that public order policing adhere to the following four principles:
• Security measures must be developed with a view to efficiently ensure the security of the general public, dignitaries, protestors and security personnel;
• Security measures must be developed in the context of respect for and protection of individuals’ constitutional rights, including democratic and due process rights, the right to privacy, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression;
• Government actions that restrict human rights must be necessary, minimally intrusive, proportionate and use the least force possible;
• International standards with respect to policing large events should be adhered to, and ideally surpassed.”

The report concludes, “NUGPE and the CCLA are deeply concerned about police conduct during the G20 Summit and the legacy it will leave for police community relations in Canada. The many violations of civil liberties that occurred during the Summit, such as illegal detentions and searches and excessive uses of force, cannot have simply been the actions of a few bad apples. Rather, given the scope and severity of the violations of rights that occurred during the G20, it is difficult to view this situation as anything other than a failure of policy and training. While individualized responses, such as the imposition of discipline following a police complaint, can make a beneficial contribution to restoring public confidence in police, the lingering questions in the wake of the G20 necessitate a broader, systemic response to what was a systemic failure. With this in mind, NUPGE and the CCLA recommend the following:

[1] That a joint federal/provincial public inquiry be convened in accordance with the Terms of Reference set out in Appendix “B” to this report, and that this inquiry examine:
• The dispersal of protesters at the designated G20 demonstration site in Queen’s Park on the evening of June 26th;
• The absence of police when acts of vandalism were occurring on June 26th;
• The failure of firefighters to extinguish burning police cruisers on June 26th;
• The failure to provide medical attention to injured protesters throughout the weekend;
• The mass detentions and arrests on the Esplanade on the night of June 26th;
• Arrests and police actions outside the Eastern Avenue detention centre on the morning of June 27th;
• Mass arrests at the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union Building on the morning of June 27th;
• The prolonged detention and mass arrest of individuals at Queen Street W. and Spadina Avenue on the evening of June 27th; and
• The conditions of detention at the Eastern Avenue detention centre.

[2] That changes be made to police policy and training that will ensure the important role of facilitating peaceful protest be given explicit consideration throughout the planning and execution of future public order policing operations;

[3] That the role of undercover police informants in relation to G20 protest groups be examined and that the limits on what police can and cannot do while working undercover in protest groups be addressed;

[4] That a detailed legislative framework with appropriate civilian oversight be developed to govern public order policing operations, including the establishment of security perimeters and the deployment of officers and equipment;

[5] That the Ontario government ensure all new weapons and crowd control technologies are thoroughly tested and regulated before they can be deployed against members of the public;

[6] That the Ontario government implement the recommendations set out in Caught in the Act, the Ontario Ombudsman’s report regarding the Public Works Protection Act;

[7] That measures be implemented to ensure greater respect for the boundaries of lawful detention and search powers are instilled in police through improved Charter training that is specific to the context of public demonstrations; and

[8] That all G20-related charges that do not result in convictions should be removed from police background check databases.”

Sample letters and information about the CCLA’s “Demand a public inquiry now!” campaign can be found at

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