Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Fluidity Of Our Charter Rights

Judging by both past events and current practices, I think it is safe to say that neither Premier Dalton McGuinty nor Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, along with his underlings, have a great deal of respect for Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

First, of course, there are the well-documented violations of those rights that took place during the Toronto G20 Summit of June 2010, a summit in which both the above-mentioned conspired to deprive thousands of their charter rights throuh illegal arrests, detentions, and search and seizures, both 'leaders' fully aware of their complicity in illegal behaviour.

Unfortunately, however, these Charter violations continue on a daily basis. There is a program in Toronto called Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS), fully endorsed by both McGuinty and Blair and recently guaranteed permanent funding by the Premier, that aims to reduce gang violence in The Big Smoke which this summer has been beset by gun violence.

And while I don't pretend to know what the answer to this problem is, I hardly think it makes sense to go out of one's way to alienate the black community, which already has ample reason to be suspicious of the authorities.

Today's Toronto Star has a disturbing story with accompanying video about four young black men, ages 15 and 16, who decided to assert their rights against arbitrary police stops by refusing to identify themselves and attempting to walk away from the authorities. As you will read in the story, that attempt to enforce their charter rights had a very unpleasant consequence that could have ended in fatalities.

So my question is this: has anyone ever checked on the constitutional legitimacy of programs such as TAVIS? Indeed, would they withstand a Charter challenge?


  1. It seems that engaging government legal services to ensure proposed legislation in Charter proof is as archaic in modern governance as is public consultation prior to drafting legislation. And with the Court Challenges program cut, it's financially harder for people to submit a charter challenge. Frightening times :-(

  2. Very good point. But at least the lads in the Star story have recourse to sue the police, something they are giving serious consideration to, and I'm sure there are plenty of lawyers who would be happy to work on a contingency fee basis.

    If charter rights are too subtle for the Toronto Police, Premier McGuinty, et al to comprehend, perhaps having to pay out large sums will help to focus their minds.