G8 and G20 2010 summit information for demonstrators and protesters

Information for Demonstrators and Protesters

Legal Information

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees certain rights and fundamental
freedoms, including the freedoms of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly.

Section 2 of the Charter states:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

freedom of conscience and religion;
freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
freedom of peaceful assembly; and
freedom of association.

The Integrated Security Unit (led by the RCMP and supported by Canadian Forces, Toronto Police Service, and Peel Regional Police) recognizes the importance of these freedoms and of all other protections in the Charter.

Limits

The rights and freedoms contained in the Charter are not limitless. The Supreme Court has recognized that "freedom of expression does not extend to protect threats of violence or acts of violence. It would not protect the destruction of property, assaults, or other clearly unlawful conduct." In addition, in some cases, the reasonable limits prescribed by law will also apply.

A Designated Demonstration Area is anticipated for the Event, in a manner respecting the findings of the Hughes Hearing (2001), as well as in an effort to best organize for this reality.

Section 1 of the Charter, which provides for limitations on rights and freedoms, states:

1) The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it, subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

The Criminal Code of Canada contains various provisions that limit individuals’ rights. The following is a list of some of the relevant Criminal Code sections that limit certain activities.

blocking or obstructing a highway (Section 423(1)(g))
causing a disturbance (Section 175)
common nuisance (Section 180)
interfering with transportation facilities (Section 248)
mischief (Section 430)
offensive volatile substance (Section 178)
riots (Sections 32, 33, 64, 65, 67, 68, 69)
unlawful assembly (Section 63)
breach of the peace (Section 31)

Breach of peace: An arrest for breach of the peace, whether under the Criminal Code or the common law, does not result in a charge. The purpose of an arrest for breach of peace is to end the breach and restore order.

There are numerous other Criminal Code sections that may also apply to protest situations.

In addition to the Criminal Code, limitations on activities that may be contemplated in protest situations are also contained in provincial statutes, such as the Highway Traffic Act, and in municipal by-laws.

Duties of Police

Police officers have, among other duties, a sworn duty to preserve the peace, prevent offences, enforce the law, protect property, preserve life and protect against serious injury, among other duties.

These duties have their basis in common law and statutes, including the RCMP Act, Ontario Police Services Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.

The G20 Integrated Security Unit remains committed to ensuring that Charter guaranteed rights and freedoms are upheld, while ensuring that police officers carry out their sworn duties.

The Unit advises demonstrators to familiarize themselves with their legal rights and responsibilities to ensure their actions are within the boundaries of the law. The ISU also encourages groups who are planning to voice their opinions at the Summit to reach out to the Community Relations Group in order to work with the police in planning their protests within the legal framework.

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