Witness Group Questionnaire for Ottawa Municipal Candidates re Policing
Mayor Ward 1 - Orléans Ward 2 - Innes Ward 3 - Bell-South Nepean Ward 4 - Kanata Ward 5 - West Carleton Ward 6 - Goulbourn Ward 7 - Bay Ward 8 - Baseline Ward 9 - Knoxdale-Merivale Ward 10 - Gloucester-Southgate Ward 11 - Beacon Hill-Cyrville Ward 12 - Rideau-Vanier Ward 13 - Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward 14 - Somerset Ward 15 - Kitchissippi Ward 16 - River/Rivière Ward 17 - Capital/Capitale Ward 18 - Alta Vista Ward 19 - Cumberland Ward 20 - Osgoode Ward 21 - Rideau
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John A. BELL
John C. TURMEL
Ward 1 - Orléans
Ward 2 - Innes
Ward 3 - Bell-South Nepean Back to Top
John R. PALMER
Ward 4 - Kanata
Ward 5 - West Carleton
Daryl W. CRAIG
Ward 6 - Goulbourn
Michael P. O'ROURKE
Ward 7 - Bay Back to Top
Ward 8 - Baseline
Ward 9 - Knoxdale-Merivale
Ward 10 - Gloucester-Southgate
Harold G. KEENAN
Ward 11 - Beacon Hill-Cyrville
Ward 12 - Rideau-Vanier Back to Top
Abdillahi Omar BOUH
Ward 13 - Rideau-Rockcliffe
Ward 14 - Somerset
William A. OSTAPYK
Ward 15 - Kitchissippi Back to Top
Ward 16 - River/Rivière
Ward 17 - Capital/Capitale
Clayton R.L. ERICKSON
Ward 18 - Alta Vista
Ward 19 - Cumberland
Pierre E. DOUCETTE
Ward 20 - Osgoode
Ward 21 - Rideau
Ottawa Witness Group Questionnaire Back to Top
To all candidates in the 2003 Ottawa municipal election
Who are the Ottawa Witness Group and what is our mandate?
The Ottawa Witness Group is a local volunteer organization concerned with protecting the right to dissent. During major demonstrations in the Ottawa area, we attend as witnesses to observe interactions between police and demonstrators. We are from religious groups, trade unions, civil society and the community. Our concern is to protect the right to protest and dissent. Witnesses are not demonstrators.
We seek to protect the human rights of demonstrators by witnessing and reporting on actions of the police. We monitor their adherence to the standards of human rights in a democratic society. The police, media and many others watch the demonstrators; we hope to provide some balance. Team members in purple T-shirts record the times, actions and sequence of events, and provide an accurate account to corporate, alternative and independent media.
The Witness Group came together in early June 2002 out of concern over police behaviour during G-20 demonstrations in Ottawa in November 2001. As a result, we observed at G-8 events to protect the rights of protesters and hold police accountable. Since then, we have monitored and reported on how police have dealt with dissent - during political demonstrations and homeless protests in particular. We have met with the Ottawa Police Services Board and police liaison personnel, demonstrators, the media and those interested in policing in the community. We will be releasing our second annual report in November 2003.
Why are we doing this questionnaire?
We are sending this questionnaire to all candidates for municipal office for the following reasons:
Municipal candidates who are currently members of the Police Services Board of Ottawa (PSB) and who are running for re-election are being sent a somewhat different questionnaire given their experience with the PSB and their knowledge of the policing of major events in Ottawa.
- To obtain the views of all candidates concerning policing issues and have your views on the public record as a matter of civilian oversight and accountability for policing.
- To raise the awareness of all candidates concerning policing issues.
- To raise public awareness concerning policing issues and advance public discussion.
We thank you for taking the time to complete this questionnaire and contribute to municipal government accountability for the policing of major events in Ottawa. Your responses will be posted on our website at http://members.rogers.com/witnessgroup and are very much appreciated.
The deadline for responses to this questionnaire is Friday, October 17, 2003. Please send your response to one of following coordinates:
mail: Box 722, 410 Bank St., Ottawa, K1Y 1Y8
QUESTIONNAIRE Back to Top
Candidate's Ward: ____________________________
Section A: OTTAWA POLICE SERVICES BOARD (PSB)
1a) What is your understanding of the role of the Ottawa Police Services Board (PSB)?
1b) If elected, will you seek to be appointed as one of the three City Council representatives?
1c) If so, why would you be particularly appropriate for this appointment?
Question 2. Do you believe that the PSB has to date improved public trust in the police service by providing effective civilian oversight, thus assuring the community of appropriate police behaviour? Why or why not?
Question 3. What policies should the PSB introduce or update concerning the policing of major events, and why?
Question 4. In the spirit of transparency and openness related to public business, would you support:
(a) posting the records of the proceedings of the PSB on the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) Web site
(b) Or should the PSB have its own website and the PSB proceedings be posted there?
Section B: POLICY CONCERNS WITH THE PSB Back to Top
Question 5. In May 2002, the Citizen Panel on Policing and the Community made recommendations concerning aggressive police behaviour toward peaceful G-20 demonstrators in November 2001. According to the Ottawa Police Service's Agenda for Excellence, released in April 2002, the stated objectives of the OPS are:
- to uphold the democratic rights of all individuals to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly; and
- to ensure the safety of demonstrators and the rest of the community at major events.
5(a) In your opinion, has the policing of major events since the November 2001 G-20 demonstrations improved?
5(b) If not, what needs to be done?
5(c) What should be the role of the PSB?
5(d) If appointed to the PSB, how will you help?
Question 6. Ontario regulations from 1997 make this the only province in Canada to NOT allow third party complaints about police behaviour, i.e. a witness to police wrongdoing cannot file a complaint with the PSB. Ontario regulations from 1997 also put the complaints process entirely in the hands of the police (investigation, hearings, adjudication). This is a clear conflict of interest. The City of Toronto Auditor has been very critical of this situation. Will you push to have the Ontario Minister of Public Safety and Security recognize the need:
(a) for an independent review of complaints against the police?
(b) to allow complaints to be filed by witnesses and others?
Question 7. More than 200 complaints were made to the PSB in 2002 concerning alleged police misconduct in Ottawa. The Board found that less than 5% were substantiated.
(a) Do you believe this percentage is valid?
(b) If no, will you work to establish an effective, independent and responsive complaints process here in Ottawa?
Question 8. Pepper spray and tasers have potentially lethal effects. Amnesty International has expressed concerns about their use. As a member of City Council and possible member of the PSB, would you support:
(a) making public the guidelines for the use of either of these weapons? Why or why not?
(b) changing the policy to eliminate use of these weapons by police? Why or why not?
Question 9(a) Do you think that the media sensationalize protest activities and downplay the value of public expression of views in maintaining our democracy?
9(b) If so, in what ways can City Council contribute to a balanced perception by citizens of the rights of those who wish to express dissent in public places?
Question 10. The Ottawa police are increasingly videotaping citizens involved in or near demonstrations, possibly violating privacy rights.
(a) Do you agree with this? If so, why?
(b) If you do not agree with this, would you support the PSB, as part of its oversight responsibility, in discouraging the use of intimidating and indiscriminate taping of citizens?
Question 11. The OPS has said that video shot of peaceful demonstrators, not needed for any criminal prosecution, is destroyed afterward. Would you support the PSB requiring a periodic report from the OPS confirming that this destruction of the images has been done within a specified timeframe?
Section C. AGENDA FOR EXCELLENCE (AFX) FOR POLICING MAJOR EVENTS Back to Top
Question 12. Since the Agenda for Excellence was released as a draft document in April 2002, nothing appears to have been done to finalize the document as policy for the Ottawa Police Service. Since the PSB is responsible for establishing policing policy, whether you are on City Council or on the PSB itself, would you support setting a short deadline for having the very good principles and guidelines in the AFX incorporated as policy for the OPS?
Question 13. The Major Events Liaison Team (MELT) unit was created as part of the AFX, and intended to work on improving communications between police and protestors at major events so as to defuse dangerous situations. Initially they appeared to have some success in this role. However they were not present at significant later events where violence has taken place (e.g., eviction of protestors from 246 Gilmour Street in July 2002, Algerian refugees and their supporters tasered at Minister of Immigration's office in May 2003).
(a) Would you be willing to find out more about the status of this unit and support its increased use as per its original mandate?
(b) As the MELT members are only on assignment to this group and the funding is unclear, would you push for the MELT unit to be made a permanent part of the OPS structure, i.e. with a budget and one or more permanent positions?
Thank you again for taking the time to complete this questionnaire.