OCLA’s 2016 Year in Review

Dear OCLA Supporter,
It has been a busy year for our small, dedicated and volunteer-based organization! We have made many interactions and contacts, concentrating on the most egregious Ontario cases that do not easily receive attention from other rights associations. Here are examples of our visible work in 2016.
Dr. Bruce Allan Clark Receives the 2016 OCLA Civil Liberties Award
Lawyer and aboriginal rights activist Bruce Clark received the 2016 OCLA Civil Liberties Award at a public event held in Ottawa, Ontario, on October 14.
Dr. Clark spoke about his life’s work of trying to obtain judicial recognition that Canada’s violations of aboriginal land rights stemming from the Indian Act of 1876 are unconstitutional. Dr. Clark’s determination to have this legal argument heard by Canada’s courts led to his eventual disbarment and imprisonment on a charge of contempt of court. The courts never allowed the argument to be heard.
Bruce’s wife Margaret and friend and former client Chief Gary Metallic spoke about the painful professional and personal costs that Bruce, his family, and his clients were subjected to because of his struggle for justice. And Bruce participated in a deep and wide-ranging discussion with attendees.
Much more information, including a February 2016 video interview with Bruce Clark can be found starting at the following link: http://ocla.ca/ocla-civil-liberties-award/
A video about the October 14 award event is currently under production by filmmaker Peter Biesterfeld.
Opposition to Anti-BDS Bill and Motion in Ontario’s Provincial Parliament
On May 19, the OCLA sent a letter to all Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) calling for the rejection of a proposed law (Bill 202, Standing Up Against Anti-Semitism Act, 2016) intended to punish participants and supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to influence the policies of the State of Israel. The bill was voted down later that day.
On November 30, the OCLA again wrote to Ontario’s MPPs urging the rejection of a motion (Private Members’ Notice of Motion No. 36) denouncing the BDS movement. The OCLA argued that any such motion denouncing a citizens’ social movement constitutes an attack on freedom of speech. The motion was passed on December 1.
Intervention re: Unconstitutionality of Canada’s “Hate Speech” Criminal Code provision (R. v. Topham)
The OCLA wrote to The Honourable Mr. Justice Butler of the Supreme Court of British Columbia to argue that the s. 319(2) “hate speech” provision of the Criminal Code of Canada is unconstitutional and incompatible with the values of a free and democratic society.
Our argument centred on the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent determinations that Canada must provide at least as much protection for basic freedoms as those found in the international human rights documents that Canada has adopted. The “hate speech” Criminal Code provision does not require the Crown to prove any actual harm, and therefore fails to meet the “strict test of necessity and proportionality” set out in the international human rights documents.
You can read the OCLA’s intervention letter at the following link: http://ocla.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2016-01-13-Letter-OCLA-re-R-v-Topham.pdf
Letters about Mohamed Harkat and Hassan Diab
The OCLA contributed letters to support campaigns about two important and deeply disturbing cases of abuse of individuals by the Canadian state:
1) OCLA letter to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness asking for a stay of the deportation proceedings against Mohamed Harkat: http://ocla.ca/ocla-letter-canadas-threatened-expulsion-of-refugee-mohamed-harkat/
2) OCLA letter to the Minister of Justice of Canada asking for the return to Canada of Dr. Hassan Diab: http://ocla.ca/ocla-letter-hassan-diab-case-and-protection-of-canadian-citizens/
OCLA Director Speaks at Got Law? Mini-Course and “Charter for Children” Book Launch
OCLA Executive Director Joseph Hickey was a guest speaker at the “Got Law?” mini-course taught by Barbara Ann Vocisano of Legal Education Consultants at Carleton University on May 3, and at the launch of the French translation of Dustin Milligan’s book series “The Charter for Children” (“La Charte pour les enfants”) at the Ottawa Public Library on May 14.
OCLA in the News
• May 19, 2016: “Overcoming ‘Divisive Politics of Fear’, Ontario Rejects Anti-BDS Bill”, CommonDreams: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/05/19/overcoming-divisive-politics-fear-ontario-rejects-anti-bds-bill
• Apr. 19, 2016: Interview (in French) re: OCLA petition to allow cameras in Ontario’s courts, TV Rogers Ottawa: https://youtu.be/yEfq2SDoycQ
• Feb. 8, 2016: Interview re: DNA order in animal abuse case, Talk Radio AM640, Toronto: http://ocla.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/2016-02-08-Talk-Radio-AM640-Toronto-Ryan-Bonnar-DNA-dog-case.mp3
Full list of media articles at: http://ocla.ca/our-work/media-coverage/
How to Stay Connected and Donate to the OCLA
Website: http://ocla.ca
Twitter: @oncivlib
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) for court and tribunal interventions on civil liberties issues.
As we are an entirely volunteer-run organization with a very small budget, we do depend on donations to continue our work, and appreciate any contribution you can make.
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 your support!
Yours truly,
Joseph Hickey
Executive Director
Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) http://ocla.ca
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