The G20 (or Group of 20) Summit is an international forum for world leaders to gather and discuss issues including policy and global financial stability which are pressing in the world today.
Between June 25th and 27th, 2010, downtown Toronto hosted the G20 summit – the largest political meeting in Canada’s history.

Thousands of international dignitaries gathered in the heart of the city to discuss key questions of international importance. Their presence attracted hundreds of journalists and reporters, as well as large numbers of individuals wanting to express their points of view regarding government policy.

Why this is an Issue

The protests that occur in response to the G20 Summit circle around the concern that the topics of discussion between the nations remain largely focused on the “capitalist” agenda and does not take immediate issues of the public into consideration. Issues surrounding social stability, environmental concerns and the needs of those who are impoverished are often put on the back burner.

In spite of a massive security budget (nearly 1 billion dollars), policing during the G20 summit took a turn as more than 1,000 people were arrested in what turned out to be the biggest mass arrest in Canadian history.

It is our opinion that Canadians deserve to know why the security failed to fulfill its role to protect the right to protest, which brings together a number of basic civil liberties including freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly.

The voices of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups seeking to bring attention to the issues which impact them the most were silenced and taken away.

At CCLA, we believe that the right to protest is essential to our democracy as Canadians. Protests can be disruptive, but are also crucial to our well-being as a society.

Our Recent Work to Protect Protest Rights.

2020 Court of Appeal Win.

In 2010, Luke Stewart came to Toronto during the G20 summit to participate in protests. He went to Allan Gardens to take place in a rally and march. Police had formed a perimeter around the Gardens and required people to submit to a bag inspection in order to enter.

Luke refused to let police inspect his bag and challenged their authority to stop him going into the Gardens. When he tried to go past the police, he was stopped, his bag was searched and his swimming goggles were taken off him.  The police ultimately disbanded their perimeter and stopped inspecting people’s bags as they entered the Gardens. We intervened in this case to argue that the police had no lawful authority to demand these bag searches as a condition of entering the Gardens in the first place. In this situation, the police had no authority to demand to search demonstrators entering the park.

Mr. Stewart brought an action challenging the Police’s use of mass and indiscriminate searches of protesters during the G20 protests. His case was appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, and in 2020 (ten years later) the Court sided with Luke and CCLA: police cannot search you without committing a crime.

We believe that peaceful protest is a form of expression protected by the Charter.

Police powers that restrict freedom and rights must be justifiable. While we don’t have unrestricted rights to use public parks however we like, the state equally doesn’t have the right to restrict entry in a way that violates Charter rights and freedoms. There must be reasonable limits placed on police powers.

““This isn’t a country where the police stop people based on broad state powers that are not grounded in the constitution””

Michael BryantExecutive Director of CCLA
Rights And Freedoms Should Only Be Subject To Reasonable Limits, Justifiable In a Free and Democratic Society.
The Timeline

2020

April 16, 2020

Victory! Court Decides Favourably

Court decides favourably that police had no right to stop and search Luke.

2019

December 17, 2019

CCLA Appears as Intervenor

CCLA appears as an intervenor at the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Materials & Documents

Decisions

Latest Updates and Briefs

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CCLA Moving Forward with Appeal of Nova Scotia Anti-Protest Injunction

April 8, 2022
The CCLA continues to work to ensure that governments do not overreach in exercising their…

CCLA Presents to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy on Bill 100 (Ontario)

April 7, 2022
Oral Submission to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario…

Fear, Loathing and the Law: Pushing the Limits of Legislating “Good” Behaviour

September 20, 2021
CCLA Essay by Cara Zwibel, Director of Fundamental Freedoms and Brenda McPhail, Director of Privacy…

CCLA Seeks to Appeal Nova Scotia Anti-Protest Injunction

July 19, 2021
While the injunction is no longer in force in the province, we remain concerned about…

Nova Scotia Attempting to Avoid Public Scrutiny

June 24, 2021
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is concerned the Government of Nova Scotia is attempting…

CCLA to Challenge Nova Scotia’s Protest Injunction

May 28, 2021
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) will challenge the Government of Nova Scotia’s exceptionally broad injunction limiting…

CCLA Taking Steps to Fight Nova Scotia’s Protest Injunction

May 18, 2021
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is taking steps to fight an injunction obtained by…

Submissions Before Ontario Standing Committee on The Legislative Assembly re: Bill 254

March 30, 2021
When the Attorney General introduced these changes in the Assembly he framed them as putting…

Manitoba Law Society “Good Character” Process Undermines Truth and Reconciliation, Diversity and Equality

March 17, 2021
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association sent a brief to the Manitoba Law Society asking it…

CCLA to NB Speaker: Don’t Interfere with Protests on Legislative Grounds

March 2, 2021
Following concerning reports about the treatment of protesters during a demonstration at Parliament Square in…

Justice Vs. the G20: The Legacy that Shapes Protests Today

November 7, 2020
Protests at the G20 and G8 Summits in Toronto went onto become the largest in…

CCLA Statement of Support for Abortion Rights & LGBTQ+ Healthcare Now Protest

August 27, 2020
The role of the government is to protect the health of its citizens. It is…

A G20 Victory Ten Years In The Making

April 17, 2020
The Ontario Court of Appeal has handed down an important decision in a case that…

Physical Distancing Shouldn’t Preclude Public Dissent

April 3, 2020
Remember protest and dissent? It is hard to believe that just six weeks ago the…

Young Voices, Youth Activism, and Social Change

April 11, 2019
In these days of heavy-handed rhetoric from our leaders and political infighting, it is easy…
Activists Protesting Peacefully in the street

Student Walkouts: You’ve Got The Power, We’ve Got Your Back.

April 3, 2019
We are writing about the student walkout planned for Thursday, April 4, 2019, at public…

CCLA at The Supreme Court: When Can The Police Arrest You to ‘Protect’ You?

March 21, 2019
How far can police officers go when initiating a “protective” arrest? Can innocent protestors be…

March For Our Education

July 23, 2018
On Saturday July 21st, hundreds of people gathered at the March For Our Education event at Queen’s…

INCLO Report Release: Defending Dissent: State Practices that Protect and Promote the Right to Protest

June 27, 2018
INCLO and the IHRC launched a report today that provides practical guidance on how law enforcement…

Thousands Protest Against G7 Summit by National Assembly in Quebec City

June 13, 2018
Last weekend, protesters assembled in Quebec City to express their opinions on the G7 Summit…

CCLA Follows Up On YorkU Strike

June 1, 2018
The following letter was sent to Ms. Lucy Fromowitz on May 30, 2018.

CCLA Talks Right to Protest at University of Chicago Law School

April 2, 2018
Last week, CCLA’s Director of Public Safety, Rob De Luca, participated in consultation sessions with…

Yorku Protesters: You Have The Power. We Have Your Back (Survey)

March 27, 2018
I am writing to you about disturbing reports regarding the reported activities of security personnel…