'My union does not accept the continued stonewalling by the federal government. We demand that Prime Minister Harper establish an independent public inquiry.' - James Clancy.
Ottawa (15 Nov. 2010) – The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is calling for an independent public inquiry to address mass violations of human rights and civil liberties by police during the G20 summit last June in Toronto.
Reflecting on three days of public hearings held in Toronto and Montreal – by NUPGE and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) – union president James Clancy said Monday that testimony given by witness after witness "for the most part was horrific."
|James Clancy, NUPGE and Natalie Des Rosiers, CCLA.|
"Quite frankly, I was shocked and appalled by the evidence," Clancy said. "We heard over and over again about the excessive violent dispersal of peaceful demonstrators by police and the dehumanizing treatment of many of those who were detained. Several of those individuals we heard from continue to be traumatized by these events.”
Clancy called the G20 "a sad and dark moment" in Canada's history.
"The largest mass arrests in Canadian history were carried out with a flagrant disregard of human rights and civil liberties as well as the basic rule of law. It is scandalous that – five months after the event – not one government representative or police official has been held accountable," he said.
Although six separate reviews are now under way, none has a mandate or the jurisdiction to examine who was responsible for this unprecedented Canadian abuse of police powers, Clancy noted.
"We cannot allow serious violations of the fundamental rights and freedoms to slip through the cracks in a hodgepodge of reports that go nowhere," he argued.
“My union does not accept the continued stonewalling by the federal government. We demand that Prime Minister Harper establish an independent public inquiry, not only to ensure accountability is provided to Canadians on these important issues, but also to ensure that Canadians never again face such a shameful disrespect of their human rights and civil liberties."
The third and final day of hearings, chaired by Clancy and CCLA general counsel Natalie Des Rosiers, wrapped up on Friday in Montreal.
Pamela Boulay, a staff lawyer with the New Brunswick Union of Public and Private Employees (NBUPPE/NUPGE), sat in as co-chair for NUPGE at the Montreal hearings.
Testimony was heard from dozens of innocent people who were arrested and detained or who witnessed violations of civil liberties in the early hours of Sunday, June 27, at the University of Toronto gymnasium, where Quebec delegations were staying.
Boulay, who described the testimony as powerful, called the hearings "essential" in trying to establish the need for a public inquiry by an appropriate body and to persuade the government to call one.
"Accountability at both the provincial and federal level is critical and hopefully these hearings will help that happen," she said.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
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