Public hearings on mass arrests during G20 Summit

Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) join forces to put spotlight on policing and governance during global event in Toronto.

James Clancy, national president of NUPGE, and Natalie Des Rosiers, general counsel of the CCLAToronto (1 Nov. 2010) – The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the 340,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) will hold public hearings later this month into the unlawful police activities during the G20 Summit and the resulting violations of Canadians’ basic human rights and civil liberties.

The hearings, entitled Breach of the Peace – G20 Summit: Accountability in Policing and Governance, will take place in Toronto on Nov. 10-11 (in the Dockside III Room at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel) and in Montreal on Nov. 12 (in the Péribonka Room at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel).

The primary objectives of the hearings will be to increase public awareness over the serious violation of constitutional rights of Canadians during the G20 Summit in Toronto and hold all levels of government accountable.

“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees everyone in Canada the right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly. It also guarantees the right of all persons to be free from arbitrary detention and unreasonable search and seizure,” says Nathalie Des Rosiers, the CCLA’s general counsel.

“These constitutional rights are the foundations of our free and democratic society, but yet they were flagrantly suspended for thousands of Canadians during the G20 Summit. This is not something that can be simply passed by without proper review and scrutiny."

During the G20 Summit in late June more than $1 billion was spent on security measures. Police made over 1,100 arrests, by far the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. Detained citizens were denied access to legal counsel. Arbitrary searches occurred at many locations across the city and peaceful protests were violently dispersed.

The consensus among more than 50 human rights monitors dispatched by the CCLA to observe the G20 protests was that police conduct was, at times, disproportionate, arbitrary and excessive. Close to 900 of the individuals who were arrested were later released without charge.

“The G20 Summit placed an unprecedented cost on all Canadians, not only in terms of its $1-billion in public expenditure, but in the manner it so seriously undermined the constitutional rights of Canadians and public confidence in policing in this country,” says James Clancy, NUPGE's national president.

“It also gave Canada a black eye on our human rights reputation within the international community,” Clancy says.

“Canadians are entitled to proper accountability on these important issues. Instead of providing accountability, our federal government is trying to sweep its responsibility under the rug. Our public hearings are meant to keep these issues in the public eye and reinforce the need for an independent public inquiry as the most effective means of providing accountability.”

Des Rosiers and Clancy will co-chair the hearings. Individuals or organizations that were impacted by (or observed any of the unlawful police activities during the G20 Summit) are encouraged to contact CCLA or NUPGE to arrange to make a presentation.

CCLA and NUPGE also welcome presentations by constitutional and human rights experts to demonstrate the importance of respecting and upholding the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as a cornerstone of any democracy.

CCLA and NUPGE will produce a report on the hearings. It is scheduled for release in January 2011.


The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is a national organization dedicated to promoting respect for and observance of fundamental human rights and civil liberties. Its work, which includes research, public education and advocacy, aims to defend and ensure the protection and full exercise of those rights and liberties.


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

More information:
• Graeme Norton – phone 416-363-0321 or e-mail
• Derek Fudge, NUPGE – phone 613-228-9800 or e-mail

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