Past briefs and advocacy

Selected submissions made by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, to a variety of government Ministries, Parliamentary Committees, Commissions of Inquiry, and other public bodies include those listed chronologically below:

1. submissions to a 1969 Senate Committee on Hate Propaganda;

2. submissions on November 26, 1970 to the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Toronto Police regarding law enforcement policies in obscenity matters and the CCLA’s concerns that freedom of speech and freedom of the press were jeopardized both by legislated censorship and the policing practices adopted to enforce those laws;

3. submissions to the 1973 Ontario Task Force on Policing, including an analysis entitled “Police and the Rights of Demonstrators”, which dealt specifically with demonstrations as a form of expression as well as the appropriateness of placing certain restrictions on demonstrations;

4. submissions on January 30, 1978 to the Commission of Inquiry Concerning Certain Activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police regarding the conduct of the Inquiry and the CCLA’s concerns that both police lawlessness and excessive police powers threaten the viability of democratic values including democratic dissent and freedom of speech;

5. submissions on October 3, 1979 to the Commission of Inquiry Concerning Certain Activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police regarding the Official Secrets Act and the CCLA’s concerns that freedom of speech and freedom of the press were threatened by the broad and vague criminal prohibitions in the Act;

6. submissions on October 3, 1979 to the Commission of Inquiry Concerning Certain Activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police regarding the War Measures Act and new contemplated peace time emergency powers and the CCLA’s concern that the invocation of powers that restrict civil liberties inflicts substantial injury upon the viability of democratic institutions including freedom of expression;

7. submissions on March 12, 1980 to the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Toronto Police regarding a police investigation at the Contact School of a classroom speech by a black community leader. The police alleged that the classroom speech affected the rights of certain accused police officers and might have involved the offences of defamatory libel and contempt of court. The CCLA expressed its concerns that such an investigation imperiled freedom of speech and cast a chill over the educational process;

8. submissions on April 17, 1980 to the Commission of Inquiry Concerning Certain Activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Toward A Charter for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (McDonald Commission), including recommendations addressed to specific techniques of surveillance and actions employed by the RCMP (e.g. electronic bugging power, the power of search and seizure, guidelines concerning access to income tax records, and certain measures in the training and treatment of RCMP officers);

9. submissions on February 15, 1982 to the Honourable Robert Kaplan, Solicitor General of Canada regarding security, intelligence, and the Report of the McDonald Commission and the CCLA’s concerns that there be strong legal safeguards against the unreasonable invasion by a public authority of the freedom and dignity of the individual, including freedom of expression;

10. a letter dated April 19, 1983 to the Honourable R. Roy McMurtry, then the Attorney General for Ontario, regarding the handling by police of demonstrations at the Litton Industries plant in 1982, and conveying the CCLA’s concerns regarding the suppression of freedom of expression resulting from police powers to regulate demonstrations;

11. submissions on September 12, 1983 to the Special Committee of the Senate on the Canadian Security Intelligence Service regarding Bill C 157 National Security and the CCLA’s concerns that there be strong legal safeguards against the unreasonable invasion by public authority of the freedom and dignity of the individual, including freedom of expression;

12. submissions on February 24, 1984 to the University Students’ Council at the University of Western Ontario regarding the ratification of a specific campus group and the CCLA’s concerns that the Council’s grounds for denying ratification involved discrimination against certain political opinions;

13. submissions on April 6, 1984 to the Parliamentary Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution (the Fraser Committee) regarding the potential impact on freedom of expression in the proposed restrictions on pornography;

14. submissions in 1984 to a parliamentary committee regarding the proposed legislation to establish the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (about which one of the issues was freedom of expression);

15. submissions in 1985 to a parliamentary committee with respect to proposed legislation regarding soliciting in public places for the purpose of prostitution (about which one of the issues was freedom of expression);

16. submissions on October 5, 1987 to the Honourable Perrin Beaty, Minister of National Defence regarding Bill C 77 on Emergency Powers and the CCLA’s concerns that such emergency powers be narrowly tailored so as not to unnecessarily imperil fundamental freedoms including freedom of speech and the right to peaceful dissent;

17. submissions on March 1, 1988 to the House of Commons’ Legislative Committee on Bill C 77 regarding proposed amendments to the bill, including the CCLA’s concern that the power to prohibit and regulate public assemblies during a national emergency could effectively ban peaceful assemblies protesting the declaration of the emergency itself;

18. submissions on January 16, 1990 to the House of Commons’ Special Committee on the Review of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the CCLA’s concerns that security intelligence surveillance can threaten political liberty and the right to dissent;

19. submissions on January 23, 1990 to the Honourable Otto Jelinek, Minister of National Revenue, regarding the de registration of charities and the CCLA’s concerns that the denial of charitable status to non profit educational publications on the basis of a common law distinction between “education” and “propaganda” can amount to a form of censorship;

20. submissions to the Special Committee on the Review of Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, House of Commons: The Five-Year Review on standards related to intrusive surveillance techniques (January 16, 1990);

21. a letter dated July 13, 1990 to the Scarborough Board of Education concerning the freedom of expression of an elementary school student who was suspended for wearing a pro Palestinian T shirt;

22. a letter dated July 13, 1990 to the Board of School Trustees, District 15, Moncton, New Brunswick concerning the balancing of the freedom of expression of an allegedly anti semitic teacher and the freedom of association of his students;

23. a letter dated March 28, 1991 to Terry Grier, President of the Ryerson Polytechnic Institute, regarding its anti harassment policy and its impact on free speech;

24. a letter dated November 12, 1991 to Dr. J. Diamond, Secretary of the Governing Council, University of Toronto, regarding the effect of proposed anti-harassment codes on intellectual freedom in a campus setting;

25. a letter dated May 22, 1992 to the Honourable Tony Silipo, then the Minister of Education for Ontario, about appropriately balancing the freedom of expression of an allegedly racist teacher and the freedom of association of his students;

26. a letter dated June 28, 1993 to the Honourable Marion Boyd, Attorney General for Ontario, regarding the picketing of abortion clinics;

27. submissions in June 1993 to a parliamentary committee regarding the then proposed child pornography bill;
28. a meeting on March 15, 1994 with the Honourable Dave Cooke, the Minister of Education for Ontario, regarding anti harassment codes at colleges and universities;

29. a letter dated September 12, 1995 to the Board of Trustees of the Hamilton Board of Education concerning the freedom of expression of a group of students disciplined for distributing a petition;

30. a letter dated February 9, 1996 to the Honourable Charles Harnick, the Attorney General for Ontario, concerning charges laid against participants in a protest at the Ontario Legislature;

31. letters dated August 29, 1996 to Dr. Susan Mann, President of York University, and to Mr. Don Brown, President and CEO of Imperial Tobacco Limited, regarding a request by an anti smoking group for permission to protest on university property against the sponsorship of a sporting event by the tobacco company;

32. submissions to the Toronto Police Services Board regarding officers’ responsibility to answer questions from the Special Investigations Unit (June 17, 1997);

33. a letter dated September 12, 1997 to the Honourable Charles Harnick, the Attorney General for Ontario, concerning possible changes in the law regulating consumer boycotts;

34. a letter dated December 5, 1997 to the Honourable Andy Scott, Solicitor General of Canada, concerning alleged activities of the Prime Minister’s Office and the RCMP which threatened the freedom of assembly and freedom of speech of protestors at the 1997 APEC Conference in Vancouver B.C.;

35. a brief dated February 12, 1998, submitted to the Guelph Police Services Board concerning inter alia police detention and strip searching of those involved in political protests;

36. a brief dated February 26, 1998 submitted to the Metropolitan Toronto Police Services Board concerning inter alia police detention and strip searching of students involved in political protests;

37. submissions to the Toronto Police Services Board regarding the Service’s strip search policy (November 19, 1998);

38. submissions in August 1999 to the Honourable Anne McLellan, Minister of Justice, regarding amendments to the law of obscenity and the law of child pornography;

39. submissions in December 1999 to the committee of the Ontario Legislature regarding Bill 8 (the Safe Streets Act);

40. a letter dated January 26, 2000 to the Honourable David Tsubouchi, Solicitor General of Ontario, regarding the increased political activity by the Toronto Police Association;

41. a letter dated May 26, 2000 to Ted Hughes, Commissioner of the APEC Inquiry, regarding ministerial responsibility for RCMP conduct regarding protests at the APEC summit;

42. letters in February 2001 to the Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, Solicitor General of Canada, and to the Hon. Serge Menard, Minister of Public Security for Quebec, regarding the balance of protecting the viability of legitimate protest and security at the Quebec Summit of the Americas;

43. a letter dated May 4, 2001 to the Attorney General of Quebec regarding the detention of a protester without bail at the Quebec Summit of the Americas;

44. testimony in May 8, 2001 before a House of Commons Committee regarding proposed legislation increasing police lawbreaking powers;

45. letters in July and August 2001 to the RCMP Public Complaints Commission, the Quebec Police Commission and the Quebec Police Ethics Commission, lodging formal complaints in relation to police treatment of protesters during the Quebec Summit of the Americas;

46. submissions in October 2001 to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C 36, the then proposed anti terrorism bill, on its potential impact on civil liberties; inter alia, how the activities of legitimate dissenters could be swept up under the wide scope of the bill;

47. submissions in October and December 2001 to the Special Senate Committee on Bill C 36 on its potential impact on civil liberties; inter alia, how the activities of legitimate dissenters could be swept up under the wide scope of the bill;

48. submissions in February 2002 to the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs on Bill C 35, the bill to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, on balancing the viability of legitimate protest with security concerns at intergovernmental meetings;

49. a letter dated June 14, 2002 to Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconiier and members of City Council, regarding the reported enforcement of a by law to prevent public gatherings, demonstrations, and political rallies in Calgary’s parks that would affect protesters of an upcoming G 8 conference in the city;

50. a letter dated August 21, 2002 to Wellington Township Mayor Pinkney and Councillors, regarding costs awarded by a court against a citizens’ group that had challenged an action of the township;

51. submissions in October 2003 to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on the child pornography provisions of Bill C 20 that would expand the criminal definition of child pornography;

52. submissions to the Attorney General of Ontario and to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Ontario regarding civilian complaints against police (January 28, 2004);

53. a letter dated March 11, 2004 to the Vice Provost of the
University of Alberta regarding the freedom of expression of anti abortion activists on campus;

54. a letter dated September 7, 2004 to Patrick Carnegie, Facilities and Events Manager for Yonge Dundas Square in Toronto, regarding the denial of a permit to an animal rights group;

55. letters dated September 7, 2004 and November 30, 2004 to the Honourable Jim Watson, Ontario Minister of Consumer and Business Services, expressing the CCLA’s concerns that the province was still requiring films to be submitted for prior approval, following an Ontario Superior Court ruling deeming this requirement unconstitutional;

56. Submissions to the Toronto Police Services Board regarding the Board’s policy concerning voluntary police searches of private homes (January 11, 2005);

57. submissions in March 2005 to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on the child pornography provisions of Bill C 2, an amendment to the Criminal Code that, inter alia, would expand the definition of child pornography and significantly narrow the defences;

58. Submissions on March 11, 2005 to the Minister of Justice regarding Mandatory Minimum Sentences;

59. submissions in April 2005 to the Ontario Standing Committee on Justice Policy on Bill 158, a bill that re established a mandatory prior approval process for certain categories of films;

60. submissions on May 16, 2005 to the Special Senate Committee on the Anti Terrorism Act regarding, inter alia, the potential danger that protesters and demonstrators could be prosecuted under the current legislation’s definition of terrorism;

61. submissions in June 2005 to the City Council of Oshawa on a by law which restricted placing certain signs on private and public property;

62. submissions on September 20, 2005 to the House of Commons Sub Committee on the Anti Terrorism Act regarding, inter alia, the potential danger that protesters and demonstrators could be prosecuted under the current legislation’s definition of terrorism;

63. submissions on September 29, 2005 to the Ontario Standing Committee on Regulation and Private Bills on a public transparency bill that could improve the ability of citizens to participate in public discourse;

64. a letter dated March 1, 2006 to Toronto Mayor David Miller, concerning a draft by law establishing that posters in the public space must be removed within a given period;

65. testimony before House of Commons Committee regarding the review of police lawbreaking powers (June 6, 2006);

66. submissions on April 24, 2007 to the International Commission of Jurists on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights regarding, inter alia, the potential danger that protesters and demonstrators could be prosecuted under the current legislation’s definition of terrorism;

67. submissions on May 14, 2007 to the Ontario Standing Committee on General Government concerning Bill 212 and restrictions by school officials on the cyber speech of students;

68. submissions on August 24, 2007 to the Ipperwash Inquiry concerning the handling of Aboriginal protests by police;

69. submissions on September 20, 2007 to the Toronto Police Services Board regarding the retention and disclosure of non-conviction disposition records by the Toronto Police Service;

70. a letter dated December 11, 2007 to the Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board regarding a freedom of information request by the Toronto Star; and

71. submissions on March 27, 2008 to the Toronto Police Services Board regarding the public reporting of TASER usage data and information;

72. submissions on April 9, 2008 to the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce on a provision of Bill C 10 that could deny tax credits to films that may be designated as contrary to public policy;

73. Letter dated April 28, 2008 to the Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, to express the concern of the CCLA regarding the plight of Omar Khadr.

74. Letter dated May 22, 2008 to The Honourable Steve Peters, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, regarding public recital of the Lord’s Prayer in the Ontario Legislative Assembly.

75. A letter dated August 14, 2008 to the Honourable Chris Bentley, Attorney General of Ontario regarding the Crown’s request for a publication ban in Shawn Brant’s preliminary inquiry over the objections of Mr. Brant and his counsel;

76. Letter dated September 16, 2008 to the Honourable David Emerson, Minister of Foreign affairs, regarding the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik who, in spite of being cleared by both CSIS and the RCMP, the government continues to assert that he is a security risk and refuses to issue the documentation he requires to return to Canada;

77. Letter dated September 17, 2008 to the Criminal Law Policy Section of the Department of Justice regarding cross-border law enforcement;

78. October 20, 2008 submission to the Ontario’s Standing Committee on General Government opposing the introduction of “enhanced” drivers licenses (Bill 85, Photo Card Act, 2008);

79. Letter dated December 17, 2008 to The Toronto Police Services Board regarding its one year update on the Policy Governing the Destruction of Adult Photographs, Fingerprints and Criminal History;

80. Submissions on January 15, 2009 to the Canadian Human Rights Commission regarding Professor Richard Moon’s report on s. 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act;

81. A letter dated January 28, 2009 to student unions across Canada regarding various actions taken against anti-abortion student groups on post-secondary school campuses;

82. A letter dated February 10, 2009 to the Council of the Municipality of Clarington regarding a resolution they passed in which they banned a constituent from addressing the Council until he issued a personal written apology;

83. A letter dated February 26, 2009 to the University of Ottawa regarding the Administration’s decision to ban a student group’s poster being used by student campus groups to advertise Israeli Apartheid Week.;

84. A letter dated February 27, 2009 to Carleton University regarding the Administration’s decision to ban a student group’s poster being used by student campus groups to advertise Israeli Apartheid Week;

85. Letter dated March 12, 2009 to the Cornwall Police Services Board voicing the CCLA’s opposition to their unorthodox and controversial practice of posting of “Drug Search Warrant” signs in front of homes where drug search warrants have been executed;

86. Co-organization of a March 24, 2009 national public forum with several other civil liberties and advocacy groups, on privacy concerns of “enhanced” drivers licenses (EDLs), which result primarily from their use of biometric information and radio-frequency identification (RFID);

87. Letter dated March 31, 2009 to the Law Society of Upper Canada urging them to loosen their restrictions on the provision of free legal information and advice which prevent the vast majority of individuals from offering free legal assistance to individuals other than close friends or family;

88. Testimony on April 27, 2009 before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights regarding legislation proposing Mandatory Minimum Sentences for certain drug crimes;

89. Letter dated May 6, 2009 to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney calling on the Federal government to adopt appropriate measures to ensure that immigration law and decisions recognize and respect Canadians’ right to hear, in the wake of Minister Kenney’s statements regarding UK MP George Galloway’s effective exclusion from Canada;

90. Letter dated May 8, 2009 to Canada’s Minister of Justice to urge the government to abandon Bill C-25, the Truth in Sentencing Act, which limits judicial discretion to grant extra credit for pre-sentence custody and restricts judges’ power to address certain inequities in the administration of justice;

91. Letter dated May 22, 2009 to Minister Blackett, outlining the association’s concerns regarding Bill 44’s proposed amendments to the Alberta Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act. The original Bill inserted into the Act a provision which would require a school board to notify a parent when courses of study included subject-matter that dealt explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation. Parents would then have been able to obtain an exemption for their child;

92. Letter dated June 4, 2009 to Canada’s Minister of Public Safety to seek a timely Security Intelligence Review Committee investigation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s conduct in the Mohamed Harkat case. CCLA’s letter followed recent revelations that CSIS failed to disclose important information concerning the reliability of an informant in this case, provoking apprehensions that Mr. Harkat’s liberty may have been unwarrantedly curtailed for more than 6 years;

93. Letter dated July 9, 2009 to the Chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) to request a timely investigation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS) conduct in both the Mohamed Harkat and Hassan Almrei cases;

94. July 14th 2009 opinion piece in the National Post by the Executive Director of the CCLA, Nathalie Des Rosiers, calling on the Security Intelligence Review Committee to initiate a review of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS);

95. August 14, 2009 submission to the Saskatchewan Police Commission pushing for strong restrictions on the use of conducted energy weapons;

96. Letter dated August 17, 2009 to Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner to address the issue of potential juror background checks conducted by Crown attorneys;

97. August 21, 2009, submission to the Canadian Parliamentary Committee for Combating Antisemitism to adopt recommendations that recognize the importance of combating discrimination while also respecting freedom of expression;

98. Letter dated August 21, 2009, to the federal Minister of Public Safety to call for an end to the RCMP’s practice of investigating its own officers when their on-duty conduct results in serious injury or death;

99. Letter dated August 26, 2009 to an Ontario secondary school principal urging him to rescind a ban of To Kill a Mockingbird from the grade 10 classrooms at his school;

100. An op-ed published in The Toronto Star on Saturday, August 29, 2009 by CCLA General Counsel Nathalie Des Rosiers argued that copyright protection was not designed to insulate corporations from public criticism;

101. Letter dated September 1, 2009 to Regina’s City Council to ask that they repeal the city bylaw being used to prohibit panhandling as begging has been ruled to be a form of expression;

102. September 10, 2009 submissions to the Government of Canada Copyright Consultation urging the government to fully incorporate flexible fair dealing provisions, abolish or revisit Crown copyright, and proactively ensure that any legislative reforms fully respect the equality and privacy of all Canadians;

103. Letter dated November 3rd, 2009 to the federal Public Safety Committee urging reconsideration of proposed changes to the sex offender registry that would result in automatic inclusion of certain offenders and broader use of registry data;