G20 Review Releases Final Report

The Independent Civilian Review into Matters Relating to the G20 Summit released its final report on Friday, and is available for download here. The 425-page report was led by former Ontario associate chief Justice John Morden, and highlighted communication problems between police services and the civilian review body that oversees it.

The report provides an overview of the legislative authority of the police services, stemming from the Police Services Act, R.S.O. 1990 c. P.15. and the role of the Toronto Police Services Board in ensuring adequate and effective policing services.

The report reviews the Board’s policies in light of policing functions at the G20, and provides 38 recommendations. One of these focuses on the need of the Board to have its own legal counsel that is separate from and not available to either police services or the City.

The Board is currently advised by a lawyer on staff from the City of Toronto legal department, and provides advice to the Toronto Police Services. The report suggests that this structure could provide a conflict between the various parties,

The current legal adviser of the Board informed the Review that, generally, if he could, he will provide the same advice to both the Board and the police service. If he could not provide the same advice, he would not and it would appear to be a matter of first comes first served. He would advise the second comer that he had already advised the other “client.” Generally, his first priority was as counsel to the Board and so, if the police service approached him on the same issue, he would tell it to obtain its advice from some other source. This rarely, if ever, came up. Matters will arise from time to time where the Board will need legal advice on the nature and scope of its responsibility. The giver of this advice should not be encumbered by the possibility of being in a position of conflict of interest. It is in the public interest that the Board should have its own counsel whose legal services are not available to either the Toronto Police Service or the City of Toronto. There is precedent for this in the Board’s current practice of having independent outside counsel advise and represent it on its labour relations responsibilities.

 

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