Endorsed Events

Below is a list of events endorsed by the OCLA. Note that the organizers of each event are indicated in the event information.


Unpacking our Voting System – Can we do Better?

Would you like to know more about Canada’s current voting system, First-Past-the-Post, and other systems such as Proportional Representation and Alternative Vote?  Come and join Canadians for Electoral System Reform for an entertaining and informative evening on voting reform.  The audience will test their knowledge about proportional representation before and after the event using voting machines.  The Ottawa Lakeside Players will perform a short play on various voting systems and Elizabeth May will follow with a message on how our current voting system contributes to Canada’s democratic deficit.  We encourage you to bring a friend who wants to know more about this important subject!

The event will be followed by a reception.

  • Date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 PM
  • Location: First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa
    30 Cleary Ave. (off Richmond Rd., one traffic light east of Woodroffe)
    Ottawa, Ontario
  • Organized by: Canadians for Electoral System Reform
  • Free admission 

For more information contact Sharon Reeves, sharon.reeves@rogers.com613-798-0365.

(This non-partisan event is free but small donations to defray costs are welcome.)



2014 OCLA Civil Liberties Award

Terri-Jean Bedford will receive the 2014 OCLA Civil Liberties Award on November 14, 2014, in Ottawa.

Click here to read more about this event.

End the Revolving Door of Pre-trial Imprisonment in Ottawa and Beyond

From the CCLA’s email newsletter:

“Join the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Criminalization and Punishment Education Project for a discussion of pre-trial imprisonment. Due to a serious crisis with our bail and criminal justice system, Canada is imprisoning an increasing number of people who are simply waiting for their day in court.  Pre-trial detention rates have tripled over the past 30 years, fueling major problems with crowding, violence and inhumane conditions in our provincial jails.

How did we end up here? How can we work towards a safe and just future in our community and others like it across Ontario and Canada?

Join us on October 1st for a conversation about bail and pre-trial imprisonment.”

  • Date: Wednesday, October 1, 2014
  • Time: 6:30 PM
  • Location: University of Ottawa Faculty of Law
    Fauteux Hall, Room 135
    Ottawa, Ontario
  • Organized by: Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the Criminalization and Punishment Education Project
  • Free admission

Independent Thinking About Democracy


  • Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 PM
  • Location: Sandy Hill Community Centre
    250 Somerset Street East
    Toronto, Ontario
  • Organized by: Fair Vote Canada, NCR Chapter
  • Free admission.


Inaugural OCLA Civil Liberties Award discerned to Harry Kopyto

“From the moment that I developed any ideas of what society is all about, I dedicated my life to fighting for justice, a world without racism, a world without antisemitism, a world without war, a world where people are equal in fact as well as in law.” 

—Harry Kopyto, September 1989.

On November 8, 2013, the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) will present its inaugural Civil Liberties Award to Harry Kopyto in honour of his enduring commitment to individual rights and freedoms in Ontario.

Join the OCLA in Toronto on November 8, 2013 to celebrate Mr. Kopyto’s many contributions to the societal struggles for justice, democracy, and transparency in Ontario’s legal system, and to hear him speak about his past and present involvement in the civil liberties movement in this province:

  • Date: Friday, November 8, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 PM
  • Location: Beit Zatoun House
    612 Markham Street
    Toronto, Ontario
  • Organized by: Ontario Civil Liberties Association
  • Free admission
  • Facebook event page

Background about Harry Kopyto

In 1986, while he was a practising lawyer, Harry Kopyto was charged with contempt of court by Ontario’s Attorney General for having made a bold criticism of the province’s courts and police. In response to a decision of the Ontario Small Claims Court dismissing his client, activist Ross Dowson’s lawsuit against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Mr. Kopyto made the following statement to the media:

“This decision is a mockery of justice. It stinks to high hell. It says it is okay to break the law and you are immune so long as someone above you said to do it. Mr. Dowson and I have lost faith in the judicial system to render justice. We’re wondering what is the point of appealing and continuing this charade of the courts in this country which are warped in favour of protecting the police. The courts and the RCMP are sticking so close together you’d think they were put together with Krazy Glue.” R. v. Kopyto, 1987 CanLII 176 (ON CA)

It was to become one of the most significant free speech cases in Ontario in recent history. Although Harry was initially convicted and ordered to apologize, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the conviction in 1987, noting that:

“History has repeatedly demonstrated that the first step taken by totalitarian regimes is to muzzle the media and then the individual in order to prevent the dissemination of views and opinions that may be contrary to those of the government. The vital importance of freedom of expression cannot be over­emphasized.” R. v. Kopyto, 1987 CanLII 176 (ON CA)

Throughout most of the 90s and early 2000s, Harry worked as a paralegal, and in 2002 he represented Velma Demerson in her landmark women’s rights lawsuit against the Government of Ontario. However, in 2007, when the Law Society of Upper Canada took over regulation of the paralegal profession, Harry was not granted a license to practice as a paralegal.

As a result, he is currently engaged in a lengthy “good character” hearing with the Law Society with the goal of securing his paralegal license to continue his work representing underprivileged members of the community in court. His ongoing hearings, which continue on November 12 and 13, 2013 raise important questions about whether the regulation of all legal professions by a single Law Society is healthy for Ontario.

Website of the Harry Kopyto Defence Committee: http://www.harrykopyto.ca

Background about the OCLA

The Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) is an organization formed to defend civil liberties at a time when fundamental freedoms are subjected to a real and palpable systemic erosion in all spheres of social life. The OCLA opposes institutional decisions that remove from the individual his or her personal liberty or exclude the individual from participation in the democratic functions of society.

Since its public launch event in January 2013, the OCLA has publicly addressed a number of civil liberties matters, including: the right to equal treatment for self-represented litigants by the courts; the need for a broad interpretation of freedom of expression in Ontario; police conduct in an age of paramilitary policing; and civil liberties abridgements by Ontario universities.

Website of the Ontario Civil Liberties Association: http://www.ocla.ca

For more information please contact:

Joseph Hickey
Executive Director
Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) http://www.ocla.ca
613-252-6148 (c)

Mr. Kopyto is available to answer inquiries from the media:

Harry Kopyto



The Work and Legacy of David F. Noble: Invited talk by Professor Marc Spooner and documentary film screening

On November 1, 2013 Professor Marc Spooner (University of Regina) will speak about David F. Noble, followed by the Ottawa premier of the new documentary film “David Noble: A Wrench in the Gears,” and an open discussion with the film maker.

  • Date: Friday, November 1, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 PM
  • Location: University of Ottawa (Fauteux Hall, Room 135)
  • Organized by: Ontario Civil Liberties Association and uOttawa Cinema Academica
  • Free admission
  • Facebook event page

David F. Noble was a one-of-a-kind public intellectual and activist who passed away in 2010 in Toronto. From his academic platform as a historian of technology, science, and education at York University, Noble was a fierce and relentless critic of society’s powerful establishments, including universities, corporations, governments, and lobby groups.

His was a voice of reason and resistance from within academe during a period where civil liberties sustained a prolonged and serious erosion in Ontario and across North America.

The film “David Noble: A Wrench in the Gears,” released in July 2013, preserves the memory of that voice. As an act of remembering and amplifying the societal memory of David Noble’s life and activism, the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) will host a special screening of this documentary film in Ottawa on November 1, 2013.

To aid us in that task, we have invited Professor Marc Spooner of the University of Regina to be our featured speaker for the evening. While he was a graduate student at the University of Ottawa in 2004, Professor Spooner invited David Noble to U of O campus as part of a lecture event organized by the graduate students’ association that featured Noble speaking alongside Ralph Nader and Leonard Minsky about corporatization of the university. Professor Spooner will tell the story of that event and the university administration’s reaction to Noble’s radical message that the major work of a university administration is to corrode academic freedom and collegial governance within the institution.

Filmmaker Jon Bullick will also be present to discuss the documentary and participate in an open discussion about David Noble’s approach to changing society. We hope you will join OCLA in remembering an individual whose outspoken way of life will be an essential model to all concerned with civil liberties as we fight back to increase our freedoms in the years to come.



The Impact of Income and Wealth Inequality on Civil Liberties in Canada

Public discussion featuring invited speakers about the impact of income and wealth inequality on civil liberties in Canada. 

  • Date: Sunday, October 20, 2013
  • Time:  2:00 PM
  • Location: Ottawa Public Library, Main branch (Downstairs Theatre)
    120 Metcalfe Street
    Ottawa, Ontario
  • Organized by: David Burton and Ontario Civil Liberties Association


  • David Burton
  • Bruce Hyer: Independent Federal Member of Parliament
  • Nathalie Des Rosiers: Dean, Law Faculty, University of Ottawa, Former Executive Director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)
  • Isabelle Hétu: President, CUPE Local 2626, University of Ottawa Teacher’s Assistants’ Union
  • Joanne Law: International Transgender Educator, Lecturer and Human Rights Activist
  • Huntley Schaller, Ph.D. (M.I.T.): Economics Professor at Carleton University

Event schedule:

  • 2:00-3:00: Invited speakers
  • 3:00-4:00: Questions from the audience
  • 4:00-5:00: Meet the event participants
  • After 5:00: Social/drinks at the Hotel Indigo, Phi Bar & Bistro

This event is free and open to the public!

Click here to go to the Facebook Event Page for this event.


Deepan Speaks!

  • Date: August 10, 2013
  • Time: 2:30 PM
  • Location: Jack Purcell Community Centre
    320 Jack Purcell Lane
    Ottawa, Canada
  • Organized by: Justice for Deepan Support Committee

In the context of Prisoners’ Justice Day, Deepan Budlakoti will be speaking about his experiences as a prisoner in Ontario under both the criminal and immigration systems.

The event will take place on Saturday, 10 August at 4:00 pm at the Jack Purcell Community Centre, 320 Jack Purcell Lane, Ottawa.

Stay tuned for more details: join the Justice for Deepan mailing list (email justicefordeepan@gmail.com) or ‘like’ the Facebook page to receive updates!




  • Date: May 3, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 PM
  • Location: JK Wyllie Room
    Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Building
    233 Gilmour Street
    Ottawa, Canada
  • Organized by: Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA)
Dr. Alex Nataros, MD will speak about medical errors and whistleblowing from within the health care system. Dr. Nataros was placed on forced administrative leave from his residency position at a McGill University-affiliated hospital in Montreal after reporting medical errors allegedly committed by senior physicians in an incident that nearly cost a patient his life. Dr. Waleed AlGhaithy of Ottawa will provide an introduction.

We hope this event will stimulate discussion about civil liberties and our medical system. A large portion of the event will be devoted to open discussion.

Media articles about Dr. Nataros’s story are available below:

A March 27, 2013 radio interview with Dr. Nataros on MIKE FM in Montreal can be listened to at the following link: 

Policing the Public: Problems and Solutions in the 21st Century

  • When: March 09, 2013
  • Time: 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
  • Location: Bell Theatre
    Minto Centre (MC)
    1125 Colonel By Drive
    K1S 5B6
    Ottawa Canada
    Phone: (613) 520–2120
  • Organized by: Prof. Darryl Davies

A symposium dealing with the theme “Policing the Public: Problems and Solutions in the 21st Century” will be held on Saturday March 9 2013 from 4:00-6:00 pm in the Bell Theatre of the Minto Centre which is located on the campus of Carleton University.

Professor Darryl T Davies, Professor of criminology and criminal justice in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University will provide the introductory address.  The key note speaker is Andre Marin, Ontario’s Provincial Ombudsman.  Additional speakers include Chief Charles Bordeleau of the Ottawa Police Service, Dan Donovan, publisher of Ottawa Life Magazine, Lawrence Greenspon, prominent Ottawa criminal defence lawyer and Calvin Lawrence a retired member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

There is no charge for admission.  For further details please contact the administrator  Ms. Lydia Dobson at LydiaDobson@cmail.carleton.ca


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