Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors

March 30, 2015 15:07 ET

Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors: Court of Appeal Rules That Police Abused Powers and Violated Demonstrator's Civil Rights During the 2010 G20 Summit

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 30, 2015) - In a decision released today, the Court of Appeal ruled that the police violated the civil rights of animal activist Paul Figueiras and dozens of other citizens during the 2010 G20 Summit. During the G20 weekend Mr. Figueiras and his friends were peacefully demonstrating on University Ave when several officers targeted them and demanded to search their belongings. When Mr. Figueiras refused he was "pushed" and "manhandled" by the officers and was prevented from continuing down the sidewalk. The Court of Appeal ruled that this unlawful police conduct violated Mr. Figueiras's foundational civil liberties and constitutional freedoms including freedom of expression. This decision overrules an earlier decision of the Superior Court.

After stopping Mr. Figueiras abruptly and without warning, the officers then made several shocking statements about the scope of their powers and the existence of civil rights in Toronto during the G20 Summit, including, "This ain't Canada right now", that downtown Toronto was "G20 land" and that "There are no civil rights in this area". The interaction was captured on videos, which were a key part of the evidence before the court.

Video #1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjVtsuoPlzk

Video #2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_T3YhT0W1g

The court acknowledged the very serious issues of the unlawful police conduct and violations of individual liberties.

Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Roleau stated:

[133] "..the liberty interests at stake here include both foundational common law civil liberties and fundamental constitutional freedoms."

[134] "... there was a substantial interference with liberty, both with respect to the number of interferences and their severity. A single team of police officers stopped between 50 and 100 people. This cannot be characterized as a minor or trivial number of stops. Additionally, for the reasons outlined above, these interferences were substantial."

The court further ruled that the officer's contact with Mr. Figeuiras was illegal:

[145] "It was the kind of unnecessary manhandling that, in my view, would offend the dignity of a person and serve to intimidate that person."

"I feel vindicated by today's ruling," said Paul Figueiras. "When the police stopped me on the sidewalk and demanded to search my bag, I was shocked. I felt intimidated because it seemed to me that the officers thought that demonstrators, like me and my friends, had no rights during the G20. With today's ruling I feel that my civil rights lost that day have been restored," Mr. Figueiras continued. "During the G20, the police abused their powers in order to intimidate and bully peaceful demonstrators. I started this lawsuit to hold the police accountable and ensure that these kind of abuses are not repeated."

"We are very happy with the Court of Appeal's decision," said Murray Klippenstein, Mr. Figueiras' lawyer. "The disregard shown by the police for the rights of peaceful demonstrators during the G20 is shocking. We are pleased the Court of Appeal ruled that this is clearly wrong and that the police cannot suspend the civil rights of peaceful demonstrators in Toronto just because of fears about vandalism."

Court's ruling: http://www.klippensteins.ca/figueiras.pdf.

Contact Information

  • Paul Figueiras
    (416) 648-3275

    Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors
    Kiel Ardal
    (416) 598-0288 or (289) 838-9238