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The Canadian Civil Liberties Association welcomes the latest G20 review, requested by the Toronto Police Services board and carried out by the Honourable John Morden. This report has some troubling findings, namely that the mandated consultation process between the Toronto Police Service and the TPS Board was eschewed because of rushed planning and lack of clear, effective and comprehensive communication between the Chief of Police and the Board. As a result, the Board had insufficient information and an incomplete understanding of what was happening on the ground. The Board, for example, did not ask the Province to amend the Public Works Protection Act to erect a perimeter fence. It delegated this to the police. In another instance, the Morden report notes serious issues with the Eastern Avenue detention centre, namely that it was intended to be a processing centre, rather than a place for people to be detained for extended periods of time.
This report once again illustrates the need for improved civilian oversight of police. Where such mechanisms exists – as is the case with the Toronto Police Service and the TPS Board – they must be fully utilized and their mandate observed. At the release of the report, John Morden highlighted the fact that key provisions regarding consultation and oversight from the Police Services Act of 1990 were not observed. CCLA supports the report’s conclusions that objectives, priorities, and policies to plan for specific issues/events in the future must be determined by the TPS and the Board. Civilian oversight is a key part of preserving civil liberties.
The report also illustrates the need for better cross-jurisdictional accountability mechanisms. There are still many gaps and questions that remain unanswered.
CCLA continues to believe that when cross-jurisdictional policing is necessary, it must be accompanied by relevant cross-jurisdictional accountability mechanisms. Furthermore, CCLA supports the recommendation that the TPS and the Board need to develop more comprehensive crowd management policies. CCLA hopes that civil society groups will have an opportunity to be involved in the development of such policies, particularly with regards to training police officers on the facilitation of Charter-protected rights as part of their course of duty.