OCLA’s 2015 Year in Review

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Dear OCLA Supporter,

This email is to give you a recap of the OCLA’s work in 2015.

Connie Fournier Receives 2015 OCLA Civil Liberties Award

Mrs. Connie Fournier received the 2015 OCLA Civil Liberties Award at an event held in Kingston, Ontario, on Friday, November 13, 2015.

Connie is a brave defender of freedom of expression who has represented herself in numerous lawsuits and tribunal proceedings attacking her online discussion forum Free Dominion. Connie is also an active opponent of the attack on civil liberties represented by Bill C-51, and author of the 2015 book Betrayed: Stephen Harper’s War on Principled Conservatism.

Video from the 2015 OCLA Civil Liberties Award event, including video of Connie’s acceptance speech, is available on YouTube at the following link: https://youtu.be/YgBJhhYBs2Y?t=1295

The text of Connie’s acceptance speech is available at the following link: http://ocla.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/CF-speech-13November2015.pdf

Free Speech for Party Candidates

On August 20, during the 2015 federal election campaign, the OCLA sent a letter to NDP leader Thomas Mulcair protesting the party’s decision to summarily revoke the candidacy of Morgan Wheeldon due to past Facebook comments about Israel that Mr. Wheeldon had made in the context of political discourse. Another candidate, Jerry Natanine, suffered the same fate. The OCLA’s letter is posted online at the following link: http://ocla.ca/letter-to-ndp-leader-thomas-muclair/

On October 16, in the last days before the election, OCLA Executive Director Joseph Hickey was interviewed on Ontario Today (CBC Radio) about this and other decisions by party leaders to expel candidates for controversial comments or behaviour. Joseph was the in-studio guest for the one-hour call-in show. A recording of the show is available at the following link: http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/podcasts/ontariotoday_20151015_72849.mp3

Joseph’s blog post about the topics discussed on the radio show is available at the following link: http://ocla.ca/free-speech-for-candidates/

“Hate Speech” Criminal Prosecution of Arthur Topham

Arthur Topham was found guilty on one charge and not-guilty on a separate charge under the “Hate Speech” provisions of the Criminal Code following a jury trial held in October and November 2015. Mr. Gilad Atzmon, who was called by the defendant as an expert witness at trial, published an analysis of the trial and verdict on his website at the following link: http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/2015/11/13/arthur-topham-vs-theodore-nathan-kaufman

The OCLA’s work in relation to R. v. Topham, has included an online petition (1,439 signatures) and letters to the Attorney General of B.C. calling on her to drop the charges, a TV interview by Ezra Levant, a letter criticizing PEN Canada’s improper use of the “Censorship Tracker” website, and a press release denouncing the criminal prosecution. Links to these items are collected under the “Public Campaigns” section of the OCLA’s website, at the following link: http://ocla.ca/our-work/public-campaigns/#anchor-Topham

Mr. Topham and his lawyer are now appealing the trial verdict on grounds that the “Hate Speech” Criminal Code provisions violate the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Their Memorandum of Argument Regarding Charter Issues, submitted to the Supreme Court of B.C., is available at the following link: http://www.radicalpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Memorandum-of-Argument-Regarding-Charter-Issues.pdf

National Defence Implements Policy on Searches in Cadet Summer Camps

In 2014, the OCLA raised concerns, brought by anonymous sources, about sweeping searches of youth participants at cadet summer camps. The sources informed the OCLA that National Defence has now implemented a policy (dated May 28, 2015) regarding the searches, and that the practice of blanket searching lockers for stolen or missing items appears to have been stopped. More information and links are available at: http://ocla.ca/update-national-defence-policy-on-searches-in-cadet-summer-camps/

Complaint Regarding Ottawa Police Association President

In 2014, the OCLA filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Directorate (OIPRD) about a letter sent by the president of the Ottawa Police Association to the president of Carleton University demanding that a criminology professor apologize for making statements that were critical of policing in Ontario.

A brief report and links to background information, including the OCLA’s complaint, the OIPRD Investigative Report (released in March 2015), and media coverage about the complaint can be read at the following link: http://ocla.ca/oclas-complaint-regarding-ottawa-police-association-president-matt-skof/

Position Paper on the Institutional Bias Against Pro-life Campaigners in Ontario

The OCLA is opposed to the evident statutory and institutional bias that exists in Ontario against the free-expression rights of pro-life campaigners. Read the position paper at the following link: http://ocla.ca/our-work/reports/ocla-position-paper-on-institutional-bias-against-pro-life-campaigners-in-ontario/

Media coverage:  “Civil liberties association says withholding abortion stats an affront to democracy”, The Catholic Register, April 29, 2015.

How to Stay Connected and Donate to the OCLA

Twitter: @oncivlib
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/110883345731728/

The OCLA is an independent, volunteer-run organization. Donations help cover operating costs such as booking rooms for public events, printing promotional material for campaigns and events, and paying for court filing fees and court document production costs (copies and binding) regarding court and tribunal interventions on civil liberties issues.

Donations can be made in two ways:

1) Through Paypal, by clicking the “Donate” button in the top-right corner of http://ocla.ca; or
2) By sending a cheque to “Ontario Civil Liberties Association” to our mailing address: 

Ontario Civil Liberties Association
180 Metcalfe Street, Suite 20
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K2P 1P5

Thank you for supporting the OCLA and all the best for the New Year!

Sincerely,

Joseph Hickey, Executive Director
Riana Colbert, Communications and Social Media Director
Matthew Fournier, Technical Director
Caroline Wang, Treasurer
http://ocla.ca

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