Monday, November 19, 2007

Violated UOIT/Durham College Students must act to Protect the Freedoms of Canadians

I have always been one to speak up for democratic justice and act to protect the sanctity of the rights and freedoms we have as Canadians. Thus I worked for a number of years to successfully bring ward voting to Oshawa personally presenting the case at a 21 day OMB hearing in the early 80’s.

This effort was important in bringing accountable and representative government to our city and the change was important in bringing vibrant progress to this city and a breed of politician whose electoral success was dependent upon serving the needs of people.

The first ward elections turfed half of the council out of office because ward elections require politicians to work to solve constituency problems and are accountable to voters to do this. General vote politicians got turfed out because they concentrated only on promoting their name since that was the name of the game in getting elected.

Today, I am addressing another injustice in Oshawa…the recent searches through UOIT/Durham College student housing to find leasing documents.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states:
1) Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. (Part 1, s8)

2) Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Charter, have been infringed or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances. (Part 1, s24 (1))

3) Where, in proceedings under subsection 24 (1), a court concludes that evidence was obtained in a manner that infringed or denied any rights or freedoms guaranteed by this Charter, the evidence shall be excluded if it is established that, having regard to all the circumstances, the admission of it in the proceedings would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.(Part 1 s24 (2))
Despite Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the articles cited above, City officials with police and locksmith in tow entered student residences to find evidence to charge property owners with bylaw infractions. In so doing, they subjected students to unreasonable search and seizure contrary to protections guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the basic Constitutional Law of the country.

The above sections of Canada's constitution clearly state that those whose basic Canadian rights were violated can seek recourse through the courts and in this article, I am counselling those students affected to do just that. I am counselling them to seek legal recourse to protect their rights and those of their fellow Canadians and am working to distribute this information to UOIT/Durham College students. Interested readers should read the Canadian Civil Liberties Association statements regarding citizens right's of privacy.

Students affected need simply file a complaint at the closest police station or to a police officer dispatched to their home that their rights of unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms have been violated by the City of Oshawa who took unreasonable actions against student privacy when in fact the action should have taken place against the property owners whom the city felt were skirting city bylaws and whom they wanted to hold to account.

Only the police can lay the charge, but they need a "complaint" in order to begin their investigation. Once the case has been investigated, a charge, if warranted, is laid against the offenders, and then the case is passed to the Crown Attorney to prosecute the case which is the first stage in the students getting retribution for the offence.

Offended students can seek this legal recourse without cost and legal awards may very well pay the bulk of their tuitions and other educational and housing expenses.

City politicians must learn that they cannot take advantage of the vulnerable…that they cannot simply run over ratepayers and citizens as they have done with the ward/general vote issue.

Had the politicians been properly advised, they would have known that Section 24 (2) of the charter prohibits any evidence seized through these unreasonable searches from being used in a court of law to prosecute infringements of city bylaws in any case and so the action by the city supported by the mayor and politicians was singularly and unbelievably ludicrous in this country, an affront to the rights and freedoms of Oshawa residents as delineated in the Charter, a public relations disaster, and no doubt made our city council once again the laughing stock of the nation.

The problem becomes even more outrageous when one realizes that the city itself was party to the infringements that they are now trying to reel in through renovation approvals they gave throughout the building process.

Affected students should review the following of many “Unreasonable Search and Seizure” Supreme Court Cases of a much more serious nature than having rental housing arrangements that were problematic for the city and indeed decide to take police and legal action against the unjustified invasion of their privacy.

1) A school vice principal detained and searched a student in presence of police officer and confiscated drugs…found to be illegal search and seizure

2) Police installed tracking device in car of suspected murderer…less intrusive search in car than in home but still found to be too intrusive..Supreme Court found evidence obtained through tracking device inadmissible in court

3) Investigation and Enforcement Officer of the Ministry of Environment compelled Inco employees to submit to questioning and to produce documents and other materials related to dumping of chemicals and other materials into waterway. The Supreme Court found the Enforcement Officer in an abuse of process as he had no statutory authority to compel Inco employees to submit to questioning or to produce documents related to the issue in question.

4) Police attended at a residence at 4:00 a.m. and executed a search warrant as part of an investigation for possession of a firearm and stolen property.
Six police officers entered the suspect's residence, two of whom had guns drawn. The firearm was subsequently found to be permitted and registered to the plaintiff. The court found that the police violated the plaintiff’s rights to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by s. 8 of the Charter as the circumstances did not justify a night search of a private dwelling, the degree of force used was unreasonable, the investigation of the firearm registration was careless, and police seized numerous items outside the scope of the search warrant. Compensatory damages in excess of $3000 were awarded to the complaintant.
We have cited a variety of search and seizure complaints all of which were upheld by the Supreme Court and all of which would seem to be far more serious than city bylaw infractions and the attempt by the city to find and seize housing rental documents in order to prosecute owners of rental units.

RCMP spokesmen described the whole search and seizure investigation process acceptable under Canada’s constitution at a recent international crime symposium.

Like our fight to retain ward voting for Oshawa which serves people and the city best, we have a responsibility to future generations to be ever vigilant to protect our liberties to ensure that our country remains the best and free-est in the world.

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