Toronto’s G20 Protests – Legal Process for Detainees

As discussed in other Slaw posts this weekend, it has been a difficult weekend in Toronto with peaceful protests associated with the G20 meeting being marred by criminal violence. The mainstream media has covered the more violent aspects as well as the human angle of people being held for four and a half hours in the rain on the streets last night, both aspects of which have been shocking to many of us living in the city. We also saw interviews on TV with people as they were being released from a temporary detention centre.

However, one thing we saw little of in the mainstream media was the legal process for detainees. The only thing close was one lawyer from Legal Aid at the temporary detention centre wonder on CP24 TV if legal counsel or a group like Human Rights Watch should be checking the conditions inside the centre.

Enter Adam Goodman, solo lawyer who works in the area of criminal law and general litigation out of his office AG Law Office. As a pro bono initiative, he worked at the courthouse at 2201 Finch Ave. West yesterday to assist those who had been charged as a result of the G20. He discussed what he was seeing at the courthouse and answered questions via Twitter on his account aglawoffice.

He has also started blogging, his first blog post My Day at the G20 Bail Courts going up last night to describe what he saw at the courthouse. He explains:

As a whole, the court itself ran extremely smoothly. The staff, ranging from court officers, clerks, reporters, and office staff, were great to deal with and extraordinarily professional. The judiciary was hardworking and helped move things along. The Crowns were also extremely reasonable and, while we may have disagreed on certain points, were generally prepared to discuss and explain their point of view. Legal Aid Ontario duty counsel worked hand in hand with the private defence bar as well.

Five courts were in operation: four bail courts (two alpha courts; a court doing french and youth matters; and an assist/overflow court) presided over by Justices of the Peace; and a plea court presided over by Regional Senior Justice Bigelow (it is expected that Madam Justice Tuck-Jackson will be taking over this role tomorrow).

Those facing more minor charges (disturbing the peace, unlawful assembly) were released on consent, usually on their own recognizance, and given a return date in August. In most cases a boundary condition was placed on these individuals to stay out of a certain area of Toronto as defined by certain streets until July 5, 2010. I think many facing these charges were released, with or without conditions, from the Eastern Ave. Detention Centre. They may have been sent to court for a number of reasons.

This is just an excerpt–I encourage you to read his full blog post for more interesting discussion. Goodman is obviously passionate about his work. I am thankful for his viewpoint as a counterpoint to everything else I was seeing in the media, and look forward to his future blog posts.


  1. Connie,

    First of all, thanks for your kind words. I was by no means the one spearheading this initiative and was merely just another cog in a wheel that appeared to work very well. The organization I worked with was the movement defence committee of the Law Union of Ontario. I don’t know much about them or their views on other issues (some of which I may very well be opposed with) but did feel this was a good and important initiative (duty counsel was very pleased with the help as well). Lawyers Michael Leitold and Kevin Tilley were the “brains” behind this whole initiative.

    In fairness, there is the potential for some private clients coming out of this work. The bails were pro-bono but we are free to negotiate private retainers moving forward – and the accused persons are, of course, free to choose any counsel they wish.

    A big kudos again goes out to the court staff who worked very hard and were extremely pleasant to deal with, as well as the duty counsel team who were doing a thankless job with passion. Duty counsel is often the first point of contact for those arrested and their families, it takes a special kind of lawyer to take on this work.

    Back to court – should be another long and interesting day.

  2. Thank you for stopping by with the additional information, Adam. I look forward to future tweets and blog posts from you.


  3. Lawrence Gridin

    Thanks for your coverage, Adam.

  4. Readers might like to look at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s early take on the G-20 operations. A Breach of the Peace: A Preliminary Report of Observations During the 2010 G20 Summit [PDF] was released today. This is a particularly impressive effort, based as it is upon reports from the 50 “human rights monitors” the CCLA dispatched during the demonstrations.

  5. Thank you, Simon. It is compelling reading. I note in particular the recommendations:

    The CCLA is calling on all levels of government to take immediate action to correct the weaknesses in the legal framework surrounding public order policing for large scale events. It also demands that independent inquiries be conducted with respect to several aspects of the policing during the G20 Summit. In particular, we ask for:

    1. Repeal or significant amendment to the Public Works Protection Act to meet basic constitutional standards
    2. Withdrawal of all charges laid under the Public Works Protection Act
    3. Implementation of consultation and transparency requirements for regulatory processes
    4. Apology from the Ontario government for the process used to adopt the designation pursuant to the Public Works Protection Act
    5. Legislative framework for the establishment of security perimeters
    6. Regulation of new crowd control technologies prior to their use and deployment
    7. Compensation for the business owners affected and those wrongfully arrested
    8. Amendments to the Criminal Code to modernize and bring up to constitutional standards the provisions relating to “breach of the peace”, “unlawful assemblies” and “riots”
    9. Full independent public inquiry into the actions of the police during the G20, in particular:
    a. The dispersal of protesters at the designated demonstration site in Queen’s Park late afternoon, Saturday June 26th
    b. The detention and mass arrest on the Esplanade on the night of Saturday June 26th
    c. The arrests and police actions outside the Eastern Ave. detention centre on the morning of Sunday, June 27th
    d. The prolonged detention and mass arrest of individuals at Queen St. W. and Spadina Ave. on the evening of Sunday, June 27th
    e. The conditions of detention at the Eastern Ave. detention centre

  6. Here is the “secret regulation” in question that police were using to give them power:

    It falls under the Public Works Protection Act:

    Earlier today the Globe and Mail quoted Toronto police Chief Bill Blair as having purposely misled people about the powers the police held under this regulation:

  7. Personally I think people are making too big a deal out of the “secret regulation”. As a result, focus is being shifted from the true issue – the questionable arrest (on criminal charges) and detention of hundreds of people completely outside any usage of the Regulation.

    Some points on the regulation:
    1. It created an offence to be prosecuted under the Provincial Offences Act, not the Criminal Code.
    2. It was meant to only apply near the G20 perimeter, which frankly needed to be protected.
    3. Its usage was meant to be limited.

    While I certainly don’t like the way the Regulation was made, and do question its constitutionality, a court may very well find the limit was a reasonable one.

    In reality, most arrests were made well outside the zone where the Regulation was meant to apply. I also haven’t heard of any arrest made pursuant to the regulation – it sounds like it was rarely applied, especially since the police were going a step up and laying criminal code charges.