Public Safety

The CCLA’s Public Safety Program promotes the importance of civil liberties in relation to policing and the criminal justice system. Our work recognizes the important role that governments play in protecting public safety and advocates for the striking of an appropriate balance between public safety and civil liberties in this context. We believe that governments should treat the promotion of public safety and the protection of civil liberties as mutually reinforcing objectives and approach our public safety work from this perspective.

The CCLA monitors the legal and policy frameworks that govern policing and the administration of justice in Canada to ensure that they are sufficiently respectful of civil liberties and Charter rights. When an issue of concern is identified, action is taken to encourage governments to be more respectful of civil liberties. The CCLA has a long history or promoting civil liberties in the public safety sphere and continues to build upon this expertise through its ongoing efforts in the following four key issue areas:

Police Powers

The CCLA seeks to ensure that police powers are used in a manner that is necessary, proportionate and consistent with constitutional standards. Specific police powers that the CCLA has focussed on include detention and arrest, the use of force, and search and seizure.

Police Accountability

The CCLA seeks to ensure that police services and individual officers are accountable for their actions. Accountability mechanisms, such as police complaints and external investigative bodies must be independent and effective in order to enhance public faith in policing.

Privacy and Policing

The CCLA seeks to ensure that personal privacy is adequately respected by police when they are handling personal information. This is particularly important in the context of procedures that may result in the disclosure of personal information, such as background checks.

Liberty and Due-Process

The CCLA seeks to ensure that the criminal law is flexible enough to allow the judiciary to fashion appropriate and proportionate responses to criminal conduct on a case-by-case basis.

Recent Work

  1. CCLA welcomes Supreme Court decision on credit for pre-trial detention

    The Supreme Court released its decision in R. v. Summers this morning, ruling that a broad range of circumstances may justify giving an individual enhanced credit for pre-trial detention at the time of sentencing.  The Canadian Civil Liberties Association intervened in the case, arguing that individuals must not face a harsher sentence simply because they [...]

  2. CCLA urges TDSB not to expand record check program

    It has been reported that trustees for the Toronto District School Board will consider a motion that would require all volunteers entering any TDSB school to submit a vulnerable sector check.   The CCLA has significant concerns about the breadth of information that police services release on these checks and the growing resort to police record [...]

  3. CCLA addresses the Toronto Police Services Board on “carding” and racial profiling

    On April 8th, 2014, CCLA presented submissions to the Toronto Police Services Board on the issue of police carding and racial profiling. To its credit, the Board is working to develop its first-ever policy regarding “community contacts” – officers stopping and engaging members of the community in the course of day-to-day policing. Unless the police [...]

  4. CCLA Urges Senate Committee to Recommend Complaints Review Mechanism of CBSA

    On March 31, 2014, the CCLA’s General Counsel Sukanya Pillay appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence to participate in the Senate’s study on the policies and practices of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).  The CCLA focused on five areas of concern:

    (1)   the need for an independent review mechanism;

    (2)   the [...]

  5. Supreme Court reaffirms robust habeas corpus review for Canadian detainees

    On March 27, 2014 the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in Mission Institution v. Khela, a case that examined the scope of court review on a habeas corpus application and the disclosure obligations correctional authorities owe when an individual is involuntarily transferred to a higher security correctional facility. Habeas corpus is a centuries-old [...]

Features & Multimedia

Icon of information logo - capital i Key Reports

Press release – New CCLA Report: Police Background Checks That Include Non-Conviction Records Undermine the Presumption of Innocence


Media contact:

416-363-0321 ext 225


New CCLA Report: Police Background Checks That Include Non-Conviction Records Undermine the Presumption of Innocence

Toronto – September 17, 2012 – The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has released a new report entitled Presumption of Guilt? The Disclosure of Non-Conviction Records in Police Background Checks. The report sheds light on the [...]


CCLA Board Member Marie-Eve Sylvestre speaks out about “illegal and illegitimate” Montreal arrests

Over the past few days news reports have emerged that the Montreal police service (Service de police de la Ville de Montréal or SPVM) were conducting dozens of “preventive arrests” and countless identity checks and searches  in Montreal streets and subways.  Today, CCLA Board Member Marie-Eve Sylvestre, a professor of law at the University of [...]

Audio Audio

An interview with Alan Borovoy on the new cybersurveillance bill (podcast)

Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow posted this interview on their blog under the headline “Canada’s bull-moose civil libertarian on Canada’s new domestic spying law“. We couldn’t think of a better way to introduce this interview, from TVO’s Search Engine with Jesse Brown.

Listen: Alan Borovoy interviewed by Jesse Brown (Feb 14 2012)

Icon of camera Video

CCLA partners with #G20Romp on post-show panel discussions!

Watch the above video to hear from CCLA’s Director of Public Safety Abby Deshman on G20 Toronto, policing at protests and You Should Have Stayed Home.

CCLA is partnering with Praxis Theatre throughout their National Tour of You Should Have Stayed Home, a performance piece about the largest peacetime mass arrest in Canadian history. Written by Tommy Taylor, the play [...]