February 2012 e-bulletin

Dear friends of CCLA,

January 28th is International Privacy Day – it marks the anniversary of the first international convention on privacy and data collection in 1981.   As we celebrate this anniversary and embark on 2012, it is time to reflect on the current threats to privacy.   Late in 2011, the federal government announced plans to engage into more law enforcement co-operation with the United States to develop a security perimeter around the two countries and diminish the stress on the Canada-US border. CCLA has proposed twelve principles that should be upheld in the course of the security perimeter negotiations.  The government has announced a Privacy Declaration for May 2012.

>> Check out the video archive of “Beware of ‘Surveillance by Design”: Standing up for Freedom and Privacy“, an event hosted by Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner on January 27th with Nathalie Des Rosiers and general counsel emeritus, A. Alan Borovoy.

The government has also announced its intention to re-introduce legislation designed to enlarge police powers in cyberspace. These propositions have been severely criticized by Privacy Commissioners, and CCLA has been active in disputing the merits of the proposed legislation.  Many privacy cases are also being heard this year: from texting to GPS devices, from company computers to searches of cell phones during arrests, the legal boundaries are being tested.  2012 promises to be a watershed year for privacy. We will be watching…

Thank you for your support,

Nathalie Des Rosiers

General Counsel

1. Standing up for Standing in Attorney General of Canada v. Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society, et al.,
2. G20 Update: A few more reports, little concrete outcomes
3. Education News
4. Board News + Internship/Volunteer Opportunities with CCLA

Standing up for Standing in Attorney General of Canada v. Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society, et al.,

CCLA recently intervened at the Supreme Court of Canada in Attorney General of Canada v. Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society, et al., a case about public interest standing.  Standing is a tool used by courts to decide who can launch a legal proceeding – basically it allows the court to decide whether they will even hear a case.  In many cases standing is not an issue because there is a dispute between two private individuals or groups who have an obvious personal stake in the outcome.  In other cases, however, the courts have developed the concept of “public interest standing” to allow individuals to bring cases that are of general public interest.  Challenges to laws on the basis that they violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, for example, may be started by way of an individual with public interest standing.  In this particular case, a sex worker advocacy group sought to challenge Canada’s prostitution-related laws and the government argued this group lacked the standing to bring that case.

CCLA’s intervention grew out of a concern that, too often, important issues can’t be effectively reviewed by the courts.  When it comes to holding our government to constitutional standards, standing shouldn’t be used to impede access to justice, particularly given the enormous amount of time and costs associated with taking a case to court.  CCLA argued that the courts should take a more liberal approach to standing that reflects the value of public interest cases and the importance of holding the government to the requirements of the Constitution.    The Court heard arguments on the issue on January 19, 2012 and reserved its decision.

G20 Update: A few more reports, little concrete outcomes

A few more post-G20 reports and reviews have been released recently, most notably the Ontario Independent Police Review Director’s (OIPRD) 172-page report into allegations of police misconduct during Adam Nobody’s violent G20 arrest.  The report recommends that five of the officers involved in that arrest should be subject to disciplinary charges, including unnecessary use of force, for the events that took place that day.  The Toronto Police Association, however, has stated that they will challenge any attempt to impose disciplinary charges because the independent review took too long – a position that, if upheld, could jeopardize not only Adam Nobody’s complaint, but also all pending G20 complaints made to the OIPRD.

This most recent review adds to the growing list of critical reviews, including the Toronto Police Service’s own After-Action Review, which acknowledged several inadequacies in the training and communications protocols used during the G20 and made ten recommendations for improving the TPS’ ability to police major events.  More reviews and cases are still ongoing.  Things to watch out for over the coming months – the systemic review conducted by the office of the Ontario Independent Public Review Director, CCLA’s complaint to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, the independent civilian review commissioned by the Toronto Police Services Board, the outcome of various criminal proceedings and of course the G20 class action lawsuit, which is moving towards the certification stage.

Education News

April Julian, CCLET Coordinator, in North Bay, ON

How comfortable are you with ambiguity?  CCLET’s Danielle McLaughlin challenges teachers and civil libertarians to think critically about the conflicts that arise in democratic societies when there are multiple and diverse views and values to be considered. In her recent cover feature in Education Canada, The King of Denmark and the Naked Mole Rat: Teaching Critical Thinking for Social Justice, Danielle asks teachers and students to ask hard questions about controversial issues.

In 2011 alone, CCLET engaged over 11,000 individuals in workshops designed to get participants thinking critically about their rights and freedoms.  Travelling far and wide, reaching out to students as young as 6 years old, newcomers to Canada, youth in custody, and even members of Ontario’s Public Order Unit, the CCLET continues to go to great lengths to encourage all members of society to explore and understand the importance of civil liberties.

Board News + Internship/Volunteer Opportunities with CCLA!

CCLA board members are making a difference!

  • Applications for summer legal internships are now open – click here for more information
  • CCLA is looking for a two or three volunteers to support its development/administrative staff in the Toronto office – click here for more information
  • Coming soon: CCLA will be announcing the details of its new Fellowship Programme: the TD Fellowship and the RBC Fellowship. These opportunities will be open to exceptional individuals in the fields of law, social sciences, business, journalism, etc. Please note that CCLA’s Fellowship Programme is need-blind and competitive.