on April 19, 2012
The CCLA has written a letter to the Université du Québec en Outaouais to communicate our concerns related to the arrest of Professor Thibault Martin earlier this week, and to invite the University to do everything in its power to ensure that charges brought against faculty and student participants in peaceful protests be dropped.
The CCLA believes that universities have a positive obligation to protect freedom of expression, which includes facilitating its exercise and minimizing any possible impediment to it.
Read the letter here (in French).
Read a CTV News article about the issue here.
on April 17, 2012
CCLA has written to Western University to express concern over its apparent banning of two community members from campus. Media reports suggest that two London protestors have been banned from the university campus for one year for “participating in a prohibited activity” – that is, attending a protest on campus that was peaceful, but was not “approved.”
CCLA is concerned that Western unduly limits the ability to protest on its premises, and is punishing individuals and denying them access to the campus on the basis of participation in a peaceful protest. Especially concerning is that one individual may have been acting in a journalistic capacity at the time.
A fundamental role of universities is to provide settings in which ideas and opinions can be freely expressed in order to further public discourse, not to limit it. In exercising their power to deny entry to campus, universities should be guided by principles of fairness, due process, and the protection of fundamental liberties, including freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and the press.
Read CCLA’s letter to the President of Western University here.
By Cara Zwibel
on January 20, 2012
The UN’s Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association has invited countries, national human rights institutions and NGOs to complete a questionnaire on best practices in the protection of freedom of peaceful assembly and association. The CCLA has submitted a response to the questionnaire that aims to address the positive protections that exist in Canada and also highlight concerns around instances where these freedoms are not adequately protected. Concerns around the Toronto G20 and the use of municipal by-laws to evict Occupy protestors from public spaces are noted in the CCLA’s response.
Read the CCLA’s response to the Special Rapporteur’s questionnaire here.
on January 16, 2012
By Cara Zwibel
on December 16, 2011
On November 10, 2011 some students at McGill University occupied an administration building and a larger protest took place outside the building on campus. Riot police were called to the scene and dispersed the crowd using pepper spray. There are also allegations that protesters and passersby were struck with batons. Student protests have long been an important part of a variety of social movements and freedom of expression and peaceful assembly on campus are core values that should be protected and defended by all members of a university community. The presence of riot police on a university campus is particularly concerning and the events leading up to this presence, as well as police conduct on campus, should be thoroughly investigated.
CCLA has written to McGill’s Principal expressing concerns about the manner in which the protest was handled and urged the Principal to make a complaint to the Police Ethics Commissioner so that the actions of thep olice can be appropriately investigated and addressed. Read the CCLA’s letter here.
on November 25, 2011
In the late night/pre-dawn and throughout the day of November 23, 2011, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association had teams of independent monitors on hand at St. James Park, Toronto, to witness the ‘eviction’ of Occupy Toronto. CCLA Monitors observed mostly professional conduct on the part of Toronto Police both before and during the clearing of the Occupy structures. Although Monitors were not able to witness all interactions between protesters and law enforcement, based on first hand but limited CCLA observations, the eviction appears to have been a done generally in compliance with legal safeguards.
In its intervention in the injunction heard before Justice Brown last week, CCLA argued for a positive duty on the part of municipalities to facilitate and accommodate various forms of protests and to find practical solutions to reconciling the multiple interests involved without curtailing completely the right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly.
CCLA continues to monitor the situation in other cities across Canada.
on November 18, 2011
November 18, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CCLA Intervenes in Occupy Toronto Hearing
TORONTO, November 18, 2011 - The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has been granted leave to intervene in the Application brought by a group of individuals associated with Occupy Toronto. The Application was brought after the City of Toronto served Notices under the Trespass to Property Act on the group occupying St. James Park. Justice Brown granted the group a temporary stay and ordered that their Application would be heard on Friday, November 18.
The Application seeks to challenge the eviction notice on the basis that it violates protected constitutional rights including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. In light of CCLA’s expertise in this area and its long history of intervening in cases that require reconciling competing rights and interests, the Court granted CCLA permission to intervene as a friend of the court, file written submissions and make brief oral argument in the hearing. CCLA’s written submissions in the case can be downloaded here.
CCLA has historically been active in standing up for the rights of Canadians to peacefully demonstrate and this work has continued with the occupations that are now taking place. Although municipalities across Canada are taking action to try to remove Occupy protestors, CCLA is concerned that the limits that cities seek to place on core expressive freedoms are not reasonable or justified.
Some municipalities appear to have simply decided that protests have gone on long enough and should cease. In a democracy, the right to protest does not end simply because it has become uncomfortable for some or because some have decided that the message has been heard. We are pleased that these issues will be considered by the courts and that the argument for robust protection of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly will be given due consideration.
For more information, please contact:
Penelope Chester – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com | 647 822 8764
>> CCLA on Occupy:
on November 16, 2011
on November 15, 2011
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has been writing to mayors in cities across Canada to express its concerns about the management of the Occupy protests.
>> Read CCLA’s press release on Occupy
>> Read our blog laying out our concerns with regards to threats of evictions
on November 11, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CCLA Concerned about Threats to Occupy Movements
TORONTO, November 11, 2011 - The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is concerned about various actions being contemplated and taken across the country in relation to the Occupy protests taking place in many Canadian cities. Freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association are core democratic rights that are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Without robust protection for these rights, many other rights become meaningless.
In many Canadian cities Occupy protestors have worked with city officials to ensure that concerns about health, safety and public access to parks and other protest spaces are addressed. Dialogue between protestors, law enforcement and municipalities have proven productive in many instances and this should remain the primary method of addressing any issues that come up. CCLA is concerned that some municipalities appear to have simply decided that protests have gone on long enough and should cease. In some cities, injunction proceedings have been brought on an expedited basis in an attempt to remove protestors from public spaces. City officials have cited a variety of reasons for taking these actions including health and safety issues, as well as aesthetic concerns and preparing spaces for holiday celebrations.
CCLA has been writing to city officials urging them to respect constitutionally protected rights to expression and peaceful assembly. Unilateral enforcement action by police is unacceptable and dangerous. Serious concerns about health and safety should be raised with the protest groups, but unilateral evictions may violate constitutional guarantees. The enforcement of municipal by-laws or trespass notices may be unconstitutional as these actions may unjustifiably violate Charter rights. Where recourse through the courts is being considered or currently underway, protestors must be given ample notice and time to respond.
The Occupy protests have been ongoing for close to a month and there appears to be no reason that these court proceedings have to take place on an expedited basis. Ensuring that all sides are heard will allow courts to reach a fully informed decision and lend legitimacy to that decision in the eyes of the stakeholders.
In addition to reaching out to city officials, CCLA has encouraged individuals involved in the Occupy movement to contact the organization with concerns or for legal assistance. CCLA will continue to monitor developments across the country to ensure that fundamental freedoms are protected.
For more information, please contact:
- Cara Zwibel, Director, Fundamental Freedoms Program – firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-363-0321 ext 255
- Abby Deshman, Director, Public Safety Program – email@example.com or 416-363-0321 ext 223