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BRIEFS: Charter taking back seat to policing

Privacy? Proper administration of justice? Pffft!

Charter protection thinning

If police break a citizen’s Charter rights, the evidence they gather can still be used in criminal proceedings in the wake of an Ontario Court Of Appeal decision Sep 5.

The trial judge acquitted LB, a high school student whose name cannot be released because he is a young person, after he found that LB had been unjustifiably detained (violating his freedom from arbitrary detention), searched (violating his privacy) and that the police hadn’t told him of his right to a lawyer (proper administration of justice). LB is accused of bringing a loaded handgun to school.

In ordering a new trial, the appeal judges disagreed with the trial judge’s analysis. But even if LB’s rights were violated, they say, the evidence should be weighed for its reliability and importance before ruling on its admissibility and only “egregious” examples of rights infringement should result in the exclusion of evidence.

If evidence is admitted in such cases, police will not be obliged to honor suspects’ Charter rights, experts say.

Unconstitutional? Pfft, say Cons

Rather than appeal a Superior Court Of Ontario ruling that declared aspects of the Anti-Terrorism Act unconstitutional, the Conservatives will simply ignore it.

The political or religious “motive” clause was ruled contrary to the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms in 2006 in the case of accused terrorist Momin Khawaja.

A report tabled in July and discovered by reporters in September reveals that the government will not appeal the judge’s ruling in the Khawaja case — nor amend the law to make it line up with the Charter.

Surveillance good, White says

A day after decrying the Carleton security cameras as unhelpful, Ottawa Police chief Vernon White backpedalled, saying he thinks cameras are a good way to catch crooks.

Civil libertarians point out that the expensive, invasive installation of security cameras seldom aids in prevention or prosecution of crimes. Better lighting in public places is usually just as effective-and it’s much less expensive.

Ottawa has been flirting with setting up more video surveillance along Rideau St and at transit stops. Earlier this year, the city expanded its video monitoring of public parks and last year, the National Capital Commission added a number of cameras to gay-sex hot spots.