The House resumed at 8:02 p.m.
METROPOLITAN POLICE FORCE COMPLAINTS PROJECT ACT, 1980 (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 47, An Act for the establishment and conduct of a Project in the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto to improve methods of processing Complaints by members of the Public against Police Officers on the Metropolitan Police Force.
Mr. Ziemba: Mr. Speaker, back in 1974 there was quite an upsetting situation in west Toronto. The immigrant workers at Artistic Woodwork Company Limited were on strike and they managed to get the support of a number of people on the left and a number of people in the NDP. The police used the emergency task force for the first time, I believe, in any major way. On any given day one could find dozens of riot squad police on this picket line, which was mostly made up of immigrant workers and students. The police could be quite brutal at times. I myself witnessed the following incident.
We would get there about 5:30 or 6 a.m. and the scabs would be driven through in a large bus that was boarded up, or a van or a large truck. The police would form a flying wedge and escort the truck or whatever vehicles were taking them in through the picket line. But on a number of occasions I witnessed the emergency task force police remove the badges they wear in their hats and tuck them in behind the ribbon on the hat. Then they would wade into the picket line and would kick a picketer where it hurts the most. Sometimes it would even lead to charges -- not charges against the police but charges against the picketers.
That situation went on for many weeks and more than 100 people ended up being charged. That was six years ago, as I said, and the last case was heard some time in 1977. It was a very bitter situation and a lot of people were turned off by the tactics of the emergency task force. So much so, that I believe the police decided to look at the labour situation in Metro. They appointed Sergeant Stan Gayler as the head of the labour relations unit -- I think that is the official title.
Some of us were a bit apprehensive about Sergeant Gayler’s activities when Canada Packers Limited locked out its workers for 12 weeks in support of Swift Canadian Company Limited, its competitor. The situation in the packing house area got fairly tense. Sergeant Gayler arrived on the scene and the union did not know what to make of him. But he went out of his way to assist the workers and he calmed down what could have been a violent situation. In fact, after the lockout, the president of the union wrote a letter to the chief of police thanking him for Stan Gayler’s and his partner’s assistance. I cannot remember his partner’s name.
But I think there was a turning point somewhere in the mid-1970s as far as the Toronto police force and labour were concerned. There has not been, to my knowledge, any abuse of police powers on the picket line in Metropolitan Toronto since then.
Lancia-Bravo Foods was on strike last year, and the scabs would wear masks as they drove trucks through the picket lines. Many of the workers were immigrants -- many of the women were Italian and Portuguese. They thought the masked men driving the trucks through the picket line were criminals. They wanted to know why the police were assisting these criminals through the picket line. Sergeant Stan Gayler came on the scene and explained the situation to them. I would say he prevented some of the local police, who were not that sensitive to the workers, from arresting some of the picketers who felt very strongly that their picket line was being abused.
I cannot say that the police anywhere else in the province have been as sensitive to labour issues as Metropolitan Toronto police. I do not want to go into the Radio Shack situation, but we all know there were hundreds of police used to control a handful of women.
Right now there is a strike in process in Burlington, involving Nelson Crushed Stone and Dufferin Aggregates. Dozens of police are escorting scab truck drivers through the picket lines. I must ask the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry) about what I would term a kind of roadside justice that took place on May 16. On this day, a scab jumped down from his truck and assaulted one of the strikers. He was charged by the police and he was taken to a cruiser and held until he could appear in court, I suppose.
A striker was charged shortly after and the police made a deal with the union -- one scab for one striker. They let them both free. I do not see that the police have this right to determine who goes free and who does not. In fact, if the striker committed an offence he should have been charged, but so should the scab. Perhaps the Solicitor General could look into that.
Bill 47 still gives the police the job of investigating the police. This investigation can take anywhere from two weeks to a year, and we don’t know how long it will take. We do know one or two things for sure. While the police are investigating on behalf of one of their colleagues, they are certainly going to cover themselves. They are going to make sure they get witnesses who will support their position and they will have a pretty good case before they let it go to that second stage, where the complaint goes to the commissioner to appear before the tribunal. In other words, they will have a darned good chance to cover up their actions. They will also get to the witnesses and they may even get to the person who is complaining.
Very few people would carry on a complaint, wouldn’t lose their nerve, after being dealt with by the police. In fact, many people believe they could end up being charged if they present themselves to the police complaining about police activities. There is an element of intimidation that shouldn’t be there.
In this party, we believe there must be an independent review and that takes me to the whole topic of peer policing. It seems every professional group in our society, whether it is doctors, lawyers, druggists or dentists, insists on being judged by its peers. They all insist their fellow professionals sit in judgement on them. Why can’t these professionals, including the police, trust the citizens? That is a very good question.
We have the Metro police commission. People in the minority groups have no use for the police commission, especially Commissioner McKay. He is an old Tory hack from west Toronto who ran as a federal candidate once and lost handily. He did act as official agent for one Otto Jelinek who was successful in west Toronto. To our everlasting shame we weren’t able to defeat the man and he has gone somewhere out to Halton now to represent people out there.
The Tories paid off Win McKay by giving him this commissioner’s job and he has distinguished himself by attacking a leader of a black community, as well as a trustee and one other individual.
We have another commissioner, Mr. Phil Givens. We all know about Mr. Givens. The member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg) owes his seat to that little sweetheart deal. He bought that seat by arranging for a judgeship for Mr. Givens and a seat on the commission. Mr. Givens has been nothing but an apologist for the police ever since. In fact, I don’t believe the police commission exerts any kind of control at all over the police.
That brings me to the public’s perception of the police. Whenever anyone suggests there may be something wrong with the commission or with the brass, immediately there are pro-police letters to the editor and it is pretty hard to fight that. We have letters to the editor from people who fear the unknown killer, the unknown rapist, a thug in the night and things that go bump in the night. They are almost willing to do away with many of their civil liberties to get protection from the police. They turn their back; they don’t want to hear about any sort of activities on the part of the police that might not be acceptable.
In our community today we are faced with a number of issues of racism that have led to racial tensions with both the black community and the south Asian community. My colleagues, the members for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick), Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston), Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) and York South (Mr. MacDonald) had an opportunity to meet with the leaders of the Sikh community last Friday.
These people feel the police aren’t really that interested in serving and protecting them. They feel that name-calling is something that is totally unacceptable to their culture. It affects the Sikhs more than almost any other group to be called Paki. That is the one term they feel very strongly about. They believe that name-calling should be a criminal offence. It insults their integrity as citizens of Canada to be called names. Many of them complain to us about the insensitivity of the police. In fact, one of their number had been a police officer and was eventually let go. There is a case before the Ontario Human Rights Commission right now attempting to resolve the situation.
We had an opportunity to meet with one of these black leaders, Mr. Dudley Laws. He felt Bill 47 wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. He still thought it gave the police the job of investigating themselves. Mr. Laws explained that two of the main problems the black community faces are entry into people’s homes and proper identification when police stop an individual on the street.
That may not sound like a real problem to the members of the Legislature, but it is a class question. There aren’t too many people stopped on the street in the wealthier neighbourhoods of this city, but there are in the working-class neighbourhoods. Mr. Laws especially objected to police searching a home and leaving belongings scattered all over the place. Mr. Laws also feels very strongly about the Albert Johnson case. I won’t go into that, because it is before the courts. He did make the point that Mr. Johnson complained to the Ontario Human Rights Commission eight times prior to his death and it wasn’t until after his death that the commission contacted the police.
The Provincial Secretary for Justice (Mr. Walker) reports that 17,000 individuals are jailed needlessly every year. I wonder how many of them are jailed under the circumstances that my friend Brando Paris was jailed. This is the chap who appeared on a picket line on a Monday. He was picked up for his alleged offence on the Friday and held over a Thanksgiving weekend in prison. He was refused bail by the justice of the peace because the justice of the peace was told by the police that this individual had an outstanding charge and there should be a show-cause hearing. This show cause seems to be a real stumbling block in our justice system. The police make that determination. If they believe someone should appear for a show-cause hearing, then the accused is automatically jailed until a justice of peace gets around to seeing him.
There was a chap demonstrating here last week who was jailed for allegedly assaulting one of our security guards. The sergeant at No. 52 station believed that Mr. Gian Singh should appear for a show-cause hearing. I appeared on Mr. Singh’s behalf and I think I was successful or partly successful in persuading the sergeant, because Mr. Singh assured him he wouldn’t cause any more disturbance here at the Legislature and he was released that night.
But I wonder how many of these 17,000 people are jailed on the technicality that some desk sergeant decides, for whatever reason, to keep these fellows in jail overnight for a show-cause hearing. How many people are discouraged from attending a picket line because the police arrest them and insist on a show-cause hearing, keep them overnight and release them the next day?
The police must serve and protect society. At the same time they must respect our rights and our liberty. They must also respect our dignity. I believe the police must be diligent and courteous in exercising this authority. For that reason, we need a civilian to hear complaints and act on them.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak briefly about my long-held conviction that the need for some sort of review of police activity and complaints procedure is important. I welcome that aspect of the bill.
However, as I look at the bill, I feel the concept and principle of civilian review is somewhat weaker than I personally, and I believe as a Liberal, would expect. I know the Solicitor General prides himself on being seen by the public, and certainly by the police, as standing strongly and firmly in support of the police. I join him in that very sincerely.
I come from a part of the world where everybody supports the police, even the people being arrested. They have a good reputation, and it is sort of born and bred in them that the police in that part of the world -- and frankly I believe all parts of our world of Ontario -- understand not only the need for but the fact of civilian control. I do not know of any police officers who feel any other sort of control and jurisdiction would be better.
The attitudes of the Ontario Provincial Police, which has a great deal to do with law enforcement in my constituency, are very proper indeed. Having talked to a few of them personally about this, I have not even sensed any substantial resentment to the concept of a thoroughly and totally civilian complaints review procedure. They are used to the jurisdiction of the police commissions. We have argued in this House many times about the makeup of those commissions and my views remain unchanged.
The Solicitor General knows that the Liberal Party has frequently put forward amendments to the basic structure of police commissions, in the light of the fact that judges should not be operating in that capacity. There is an intrinsic conflict of interest. I was interested to hear our former colleague John Clement being quoted extensively in the last few days. He indicated that any change from the present composition of police commissions would be a very serious and drastic backward step leading to, I think in his words, chaos. If the police commissions were formed from those people appointed, seconded or nominated by locally elected councils, civilian control of the police would somehow become chaotic. I do not agree with that, but it is really not what we are talking about at this time.
The police officers I have talked to, sometimes at the side of the road when they are talking to me about certain other matters, certainly accept what I consider to be a healthy democratic concept of civilian control of law enforcement. In this connection I have a great deal of confidence in the Solicitor General, who exemplifies a good many aspects where civilian control is seen to reside. I believe the police have a certain substantial confidence in the office, in fact probably in the individual, and that’s a good thing.
The feeling that the police are not going to accept a complaint procedure involving an investigation outside their jurisdiction is ill-conceived. The police, in all their training and understanding of their views, have accepted this concept of civilian control, and I believe they would accept eventually the concept of a complete civilian review in a way that would become them and would become the strength of our democratic society.
My colleagues have expressed quite firmly the view that we feel there should be a specific complaints procedure. My colleagues have expressed, and may express later this evening, our concerns that the minister, in presenting the bill, has not made it clear, as we would hope, that the civilian aspect of the investigation, if not in all circumstances at least in most circumstances, would be implicit and well understood.
I have been quite concerned, as I know every other member of the House has been, with recent events in Metropolitan Toronto. The very tragic event some months ago that led to the commitment by the government to introduce this bill has been followed up by other events in the last few days, particularly with racial overtones, that make it clear to all of us that the easy time in law enforcement that we didn’t know was easy, may be drawing to a close. As is so often the case, many of the more unacceptable aspects of life in the United States seem to be visited on us, perhaps a decade or a large part of a decade after we read about it in the United States, and said, “Thank God that’s not us.”
We might as well look at those circumstances as an express train coming towards us and we are standing right in the middle of the track. It happens to us no matter how careful and how well intentioned we are. We have an opportunity here, even though pressures are coming on us very substantially, to establish a procedure which is going to be better than that implicit in the principle of Bill 47.
I don’t know whether I was offended -- I think I was -- to hear Alderman Sparrow comment a few days ago about the dangers coming this summer season in Toronto. He has to say things the way he sees them, but often I feel those kinds of comments almost lead people to fulfil the prophecies made. I can’t criticize him; he is what he is and he has made very strong statements on this and other matters for a long time.
Most people seem to feel that at least he is an elected person who has the confidence of those communities within this Metropolitan area who feel they are not at the centre of the attention of the movers and shakers in government, in police forces, in police commissions and in public life.
I was concerned at his statements and while I didn’t like them, I had a feeling that whatever his motives, and I must assume they are the best, he might be right. If he is, it will not be good enough for us to have a complaints procedure that is seen to be anything but completely community controlled and oriented and civilian in its aspects.
I guess it was almost 10 years ago that these arguments, public and to some extent philosophical, were taking place around the jurisdiction of metropolitan New York. I don’t think their experience has been the best. I don’t think they have a process for reviewing complaints that has the confidence of everybody, whether it’s the police or the citizens or the minority groups or anybody else. But I well remember the intransigent position taken by the police spokesmen at the time, through their own professional organization and in other ways.
I know a fairly strong stand has been taken by the police in our own jurisdiction but I feel that we in this House, and the Solicitor General particularly, can take a position of substantially more leadership than is implicit in this bill.
The House must surely be aware that these problems exist well outside Metropolitan Toronto. Police officers, wherever they are exercising their duties, face very substantial challenges and trials and I don’t envy them. I would not be set up in many ways to fulfil their duties. I have the greatest admiration for them, almost without reservation. Whether one is in a rural area, a small urban area, wherever --
Hon. Mr. Snow: -- don’t like those OPP.
Mr. Nixon: If the minister would do something about his silly speed limits. At least he is more sensible in this respect than the principle in this bill, but that’s another matter. Both of them drive around in those limousines. I see the Solicitor General is already looking at the clock.
Mr. Sterling: Did you get pinched again, Bob?
Mr. Nixon: I’m down to four points and I’m heading even lower.
In a sense we understand that this is an experimental procedure. I feel there are other municipalities and areas which would benefit as well. I feel it is too late to come to Metropolitan Toronto and say, “Let’s try it here.” We ought to have a procedure which, even if it were interim or experimental, would be available across the province.
I hesitate to suggest that we would have a full bureaucracy set up parallel to the Ombudsman or the various other public offices, but I would predict -- and politicians do this -- that eventually we will come to that.
I have always also felt that the Solicitor General, whoever occupies that office, has in the past, does now, and will in the future carry out the essential civilian post, more or less as the traditional minister of the interior does in other jurisdictions. That is the penultimate -- maybe two steps away from the ultimate -- source of control and power and jurisdiction as far as the police are concerned.
We are fortunate in Ontario that the police understand that. I think they also are reasonably well satisfied with the police commission, although the opposition parties, and the Liberal Party particularly, have indicated their dissatisfaction with the composition of those commissions.
I feel the Solicitor General has the responsibility to act in many aspects as a complaint department himself. I have never felt the present Solicitor General was unwilling to respond in that way. Occasionally, along with the rest of us, he tends to respond a bit politically, but that’s to be understood since we’re politicians, all of us with certain experience, all of us with certain aspirations.
I feel the bill, for me as an individual -- and believe it or not, as a philosophical liberal -- does not go far enough to make it clear that the complaints are going to be heard by civilians, they are going to be investigated under civilian control, and they’re going to be judged by civilians.
This is more than a flaw in the principle; it really is a problem. I know my colleagues have put forward our concerns. I hope it could be made clear by the government, either through this spokesman or in the future by somebody else, or perhaps by a new government, that the approach to this complaints procedure has to be based on the primacy, the position of the civilian review, investigation and judgement that is delegated by all of us as members here in this chamber in our capacity as representing all the civilians.
I have some grave concerns about the principle of the bill. I intend to let my colleague the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) express those in more specific terms.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, in rising to speak to this bill, I have some preliminary comments. I am deeply concerned that the perception has been abroad in the land that those of us who do not agree with the so-called principle of this bill are somehow or other denigrating the police. I want to say as strongly as I can that I do not think the police in Metropolitan Toronto have any stronger friend than they have in me. I have worked with them through a long period of problems. I think I know their operation reasonably well. I think of some of the great people I have known. Two of them, two detectives, to my regret remain anonymous to me because I did not have the wit on the occasion to get their names.
I would like to take members back for a moment in time to just a little vignette of what goes on in Toronto and the way in which the police handle situations. I go back to a hot summer day in the 1960s when the Metropolitan Toronto Licensing Commission was sitting and torturing itself with what should happen to Norm’s Grill and Spot One. I can recall a person who came before that commission. It was not a person whom people would look to with any degree of sympathy initially. She was a woman who was quite young, but looked rather old. She was a prostitute, a woman who was on dope. I can recall Mr. Gardiner, who for all his brusque ways was one of those people with a very great heart, as he listened to her giving testimony, explaining that she had tried to kick this habit in some miserable little room all by herself. It was assessed among some of us that this was a human being. I was interested because nobody at that time knew what to do about her. In the 1960s, while we had places for men to be placed in other than jail, we did not accord that same sort of service or facility to a woman in this position.
I had occasion to talk to these two detectives. They certainly were tough detectives. They were men who were doing their job. As we tried to get some solution and, in fact, did get the Salvation Army to come in, they said to me, “We were worried about what would happen to that woman. We were prepared to take her back with us where at least she would have a roof over her head.”
This is the kind of thing that goes on in downtown Toronto. It is part of a picture. It is not the whole picture. I am thinking of a young officer who came to my office last week and who explained to me -- he was pretty new to this business -- that he was effecting an arrest. He stated he had seen the victim, a child, whose head was beaten in. The child had been taken off in an ambulance and he was seeking to make an arrest. What happened was, as he said, the group that gathered around him protesting the arrest had not been there to see what had gone on before.
He said, “You know, we are human, and it is awfully hard to take what we have to take and not answer back.” I believe that today officers are up against this, partly because this government has never seen fit to bring in procedures in which the public have confidence. I want it clearly understood that from my point of view I am not looking to change here because I am opposed to the police.
Now what do we have? I regret I have not had the information from the Solicitor General that I asked for and he stated he would get for me. One of the things that perhaps we should all have had an opportunity to look at, anonymized perhaps, is the kind of records there are in the present police complaints bureau, and whether in fact there is a pattern where some officers appear and appear and appear, and there is no solution to the complaints.
I think it is the perception of the procedures which has caused a large part of the problem, coupled with the fact that this government is absolutely intransigent in looking at the police commission and trying to make it reflect a little more closely the mosaic that is Metropolitan Toronto.
Having met with some groups of women, we could well see the kind of vigilante movement we have seen in California and in British Columbia, which has developed because the women do not perceive that they have any protection in the matter of sexual harassment. They may be wrong; they may also be right.
We have discussed some of the problems we face in our society. I raised the question with the Solicitor General the other day in the matter of the Fotomat strike. I met four rather petite women who were on the picket line. Somehow or other there were seven police cruisers, which does seem a little like overkill, but that is not, in my view, the fault of the police. Police are called and they respond. I think police are taking the blame for a lot of things for which they are not initially responsible.
Also, in our society there are societal attitudes and all of us have a job to do in trying to help to work our way through these societal attitudes. Having said all that, in the strongest terms I can I want to say to the Solicitor General my colleagues have expressed their reservations to this bill.
We are caught in the dilemma of the way in which the procedures work in this House. As my colleague who just spoke indicated, he would like to have some assurance from the Solicitor General as to what his position would be with reference to amendments to this bill. There is no way I will accept the concept of police investigating police. I am fighting the same concept, as the minister knows, of lawyers investigating lawyers. I’m consistent at least.
We certainly are of the opinion that the bill must have that amendment to make it palatable in any way to us. I would invite the Solicitor General to tell us what his position would be in the event that an amendment to that effect were to be brought in and carried in this bill. How firmly entrenched is he in this?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Are you suggesting another police force to investigate the police force? No, I won’t accept that.
Mrs. Campbell: I’m delighted to have that answer. It cuts my speech by a great deal.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I won’t accept the destruction of the Metropolitan Toronto police force by your hands or anybody else’s.
Mrs. Campbell: With respect, as far as I am concerned I have never heard such complete garbage in my life as that which has just been mouthed by the Solicitor General.
In so far as my party and I are concerned, I believe the answer to our dilemma in this second reading has been given. There is no question in my mind that the commissioner must be ab initio in the complaint system. My colleagues have expressed the fact that the commissioner might well, for example, decide that the complaint was not one which he wished to pursue. But if there is a complaint which in his opinion is serious, then there is no question in our mind or in our philosophy but that the commissioner must have the direction of the investigation or, with respect, speaking at least for myself, I cannot support this bill on second reading. I would like the Solicitor General to understand the degree of commitment I am making to a principle. I do not think any of us can afford partisan stances on this bill.
If I thought for a moment it would destroy the Metropolitan Toronto police I would not be taking it either, but the Metropolitan Toronto police are a lot stronger than the Solicitor General gives them credit for.
I have indicated what we would find necessary to give support to this second reading. The Solicitor General cannot look at what we are saying with reason rather than emotion, for goodness’ sake. I thought that was reserved only for women in politics. I see men can have emotions too. If the Solicitor General cannot be prevailed upon to at least listen to what we are saying, then I am afraid I will not support second reading of this bill.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, the course of my remarks this evening will probably reflect the way I now feel about the bill, and perhaps be somewhat of a plea or a foretaste of what may take place when the bill goes out to committee. I would like to have a clear and unequivocal statement by the minister when he replies in this debate, assuming he chooses to do so, about the bill going out to committee and what his plans are.
We are prepared, after the division tonight, to put the bill out to committee under the rules with 20 members standing in their place in order that it will go out. But I do not think that is necessary if the minister very clearly indicates that the bill will go out to a committee so that people will have an opportunity to address the committee about their concerns related to it.
My feelings have developed over a long period of time about this whole question of the civilian review of police complaints, having tried to study objectively the bill which is before the assembly this evening; having tried to look objectively again at the statement of principles published by this party and which appears as a resolution on the Order Paper; and having studied Bill 11 standing in the name of my colleague the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner), in which we tried to reflect, albeit not perfectly, those principles in the sections and provisions of that bill.
Those principles have been around for a long time. We were called upon to issue the principles simply because of the inordinate delay of the Solicitor General in introducing the bill both at the end of the last session and again this session. The minister had the benefit of our statement of principles at that time. He had the benefit of our thoughts about it, and we were consulted by his special adviser with respect to the bill.
I have a sensation that with goodwill -- and I emphasize it will have to be with goodwill -- in the committee the major concerns of our party reflected in our statement of principles can be accommodated in a very real way if the minister will move at all. I know the immense pressures the minister is under, both from his own innate stubbornness about these kinds of things and also because of the pressures which are brought to bear on him by the various interest groups he has to deal with in preparing the bill.
I tend to be -- my caucus will attest to this -- almost an incurable optimist in believing that in tough situations it is possible for reasonable people to accommodate their principles within the framework of the English language in a way which will accomplish the public interest and need. This is required at this time and we cannot afford the luxury of any further delay.
There has to be a genuine effort in the committee to arrive at that conclusion. I think it is possible. I do not consider that the divergences, while significant and of principle in the way the bill is now drafted, cannot, without doing disservice to the concerns and principles of the Solicitor General, also meet the concerns and principles of the New Democratic Party.
So it is in that sense that I do not intend to stand here in some adamant and hostile position about the bill being all wrong. I have on occasion felt deeply enough about the way in which this bill has come before the assembly, and in the inordinate procrastination about it, to make me think that whenever the bill did arrive I could do nothing but fail to support it.
I am not going to support the bill tonight and our caucus is not going to support the bill tonight. I want to make it very clear that doesn’t mean it is not possible for the bill to be dealt with objectively and carefully, taking into account not only the views expressed by members of the government party and the Solicitor General, but the views expressed by members of this party.
I want the minister to understand that his party holds across the swath of lower-tier seats in the city two of the central core ones. One of them is held by the member for St. George, who has expressed deep concern about this bill. The other ridings across the bottom of the city, where the major problems with respect to the kinds of incidents have occurred which led to this bill being introduced in the first place, are represented by this party.
I want him, in a nonpartisan sense, to understand that we reflect in our debate about this bill not only our particular ideological position, but the fact that we represent the ridings and areas composed of constituents who have very real difficulties from time to time with the police.
I know no one ever will, but if one wanted to examine the Hansard of the comments made by myself and my colleague the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) on various topics, the one consistent theme that we have been inseparable on over the years has been our conception of the police forces in the province. We have put it on record many times. We have gone back year in and year out about the basic framework of the police establishment in Ontario, in particular because we both represent ridings in Metropolitan Toronto.
I know this is a bill dealing with the complaints procedure but I must touch, at least briefly, the fundamental bases of what we are talking about when we talk about police complaints. I know all my colleagues in the assembly are quite aware of the role which the police play in our society, but without being technically legal, let me speak for a moment about a substantive provision of the Police Act. Let us be certain what we are talking about when we talk about police officers. The particular sections are 54 and 55 of the Police Act.
I am not going to read them exactly as they appear because they involve some legalese and I want to be certain their key elements are before the assembly when we are speaking about them. First of all, section 54 has a very simple statement. I am paraphrasing, leaving out the extraneous legalese that appears in that section. Every police officer “has authority to act as a constable throughout Ontario.” Some people may say the operative part is “throughout Ontario.” The operative part is “as a constable throughout Ontario.” That’s the basic clause. In section 55 it says a police officer is charged with “the duty of preserving the peace, preventing robberies and other crimes and offences... apprehending offenders, laying information before the proper tribunal, and prosecuting and aiding in the prosecuting of offenders.” Those are four very specific, very clear duties imposed on police officers by the Police Act. It goes on to say all police officers have “generally all the powers and privileges and are liable to all the duties and responsibilities that belong to constables.”
My colleague from Lakeshore and myself, from time to time supported by other members of the caucus but principally the two of us, have emphasized for a long time that --
An hon. member: Too long.
Mr. Renwick: -- the key word in the police force in Ontario, despite the fact that it has fallen into disuse, is “constable.” The office of constable is the key to what we are talking about and I deplore the consequences which have flowed because the title of constable has fallen into disuse. It’s not for any sense of nostalgia but simply because we have lost sight of the word’s fundamental connotation in a tradition that came to us in a very valuable way, in a democratic society, from Great Britain and the whole of the tradition that surrounds the use of that term.
I am not going to go on about that. I could go on, because it’s fundamental, but I want to emphasize that it continues to be my colleague’s concern and my concern because it is a mirror of what has happened to the police forces in Ontario and why we are having certain troubles and problems.
Mr. Lawlor: It’s too Americanized.
Mr. Renwick: Let me make a second very important point about what we are talking about in this bill. I am not certain I can express it perfectly. I have tried to jot it down so I will not get involved in some garrulous dissertation. I want the Solicitor General to know this is how I feel, and this feeling is shared by my colleagues. In some senses, we do demand more of the police than we do of other groups, or, more accurate, we become especially concerned when the police fail to meet our demands. This must be the case, because it is to the police we look to deal with so many of our problems, and it is to the police we entrust the legitimate use of force.
I am not going to speak at any great length about force, but that is what I understand to be the concern the public has about the police. We ask them to do many tasks which cannot be done in any other way in a democratic society, and we expect they will reflect us in the performance of those duties in a way which will be a credit to them and a credit to the community they are designed to serve.
I have often admired the patience, the determination and on many occasions the fortitude with which the police have dealt in the city of Toronto with very difficult situations. They have met the standard we expect of them. Let me express that in a somewhat different way. What distinguishes a democratic society from any other society is that the police reflect the democratic society; they are not an arm of the state. In nondemocratic societies they are an arm of the state; they are here to tell the citizenry what they are to do and when they are to do it.
I know the Solicitor General travels a great deal. He understands that when he goes into a particular country that is not democratic and sees how the police relate to the community they serve. It is an entirely different way to the way in which the police in a democratic society such as ours respond to the society.
We find at the present time that the changing nature of our society in Ontario, particularly in Metropolitan Toronto, has caused us to require of the police that they meet and respond to that change as a reflection of that society. Many of the problems which have arisen over the last few years in Metropolitan Toronto have occurred because citizens, thinking about their police, observing what they see of the police in operation, understanding the way in which the police are required to deal with the society in which they are concerned, have an anxiety and a concern that the leadership of the police has failed to have the police respond to that society in its changing need. I emphasize the leadership because in my mind it is a failure of leadership in the Metropolitan Toronto police that has caused practically all the problems we have today.
Perhaps this is an excursion not quite within the confines of the debate. If one takes all the diffusion of special arrangements which the Solicitor General has taken or has nudged other elements in the police in Metropolitan Toronto to take, they all comprise items which needed to be looked at, but very few, if any, came on the direct initiative of the Metropolitan Toronto Board of Commissioners of Police. That particular commission is set up under the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act and the appointees to the board are all designated in one way or another, but they are mainly appointees of this government. There has been a total failure of leadership by that Metropolitan Toronto police commission which has reflected itself in the incapacity of the police force in very important aspects of its adjustment to society to move with the society with which it has to deal.
Most of us realize that while we talk about the police constable as a law enforcement officer, he is there primarily to keep the peace as well as to enforce the law. In many ways it is in that role that he establishes his relationship with the community, and it is that connection with the community which has suffered serious damage in Metropolitan Toronto. That has happened for all the reasons which all of us talk about whenever we talk about the police -- the separation of the policeman in his vehicle from the beat he used to patrol not so many years ago in the city, and in the sense that he belonged to the community where he worked, lived, moved and had his being. All of those things are matters which are part of conversations about the police but reflect, in my view, a very profound concern that we have as we come to the whole question of the police and our concerns about it.
I want to focus directly on the bill now before us, Bill 47. But before doing so, let me just comment about the statement made by the justice group of this caucus shortly after the Albert Johnson killing, in which my colleagues and I expressed our concerns about that particular incident. We then raised, in addition, the other concerns which we had. There were four or five of those concerns. My colleagues and I in the justice group, that is, the members for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Ziemba), Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner), Dovercourt (Mr. Lupusella), Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) and Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston), ended our statement of September 7 by saying:
“The Johnson case and other recent events lead us to believe that we also need a meticulous investigation of and report on the whole pattern of Metro police activity in relation to recent immigrant communities and in the handling of family and neighbourhood disputes in all communities.
“This investigation must cover the following matters: the training and procedures of the police, with particular reference to the handling of family and neighbourhood disputes and the use of force; the procedures used by the police in stopping citizens, interrogating and questioning them; the manner in which citizen complaints about police behaviour are investigated; and the composition and structure of the police commission.”
Basically, that is the framework of concerns we had, but in the time available to me I want to move, if I may, specifically to Bill 47. In the Solicitor General’s estimates last year, I recall discussing my concern that the bill, which had then been tabled in the House, was accompanied from time to time by expressions of the Solicitor General that, by and large, in North America the civilian review procedure was in disrepute, would not work and was not an acceptable procedure. That is the way in which I thought the minister was approaching the whole topic, and I do not have any reason to believe that is not the way he is approaching it. He is very reluctant, and it is that very reluctance which may ultimately prove our inability to reach a consensus about a sound bill to deal with this whole problem.
I then asked in the Solicitor General’s estimates if the staff would be good enough to provide me with the background papers they had studied to come to this conclusion, and they very kindly gave me quite a long list of documents and copies of the various documents, all of which make very fascinating reading.
But they missed out on one key point. The reason the civilian review procedure fell into such disrepute had its origins in the period, which my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) referred to, and time passes more quickly than he thinks. In fact, it was about 14 years ago that John Lindsay, then the mayor of New York City, in fulfilment of an election pledge prior to his next re-election campaign in July 1966, appointed a civilian complaints review board.
The attack that was mounted by the police force in New York City against that particular proposal of his came very close to defeating the then mayor in the election on November 8, 1966. The attack that was made by the police was an unbelievable attack. It was not unique to New York City and was ultimately reflected in other major cities, particularly in the city of Philadelphia, where the commissioner of police, Rizzo, dominated the scene to such an extent that he then became mayor and to such an extent that it was only a year ago that the federal government preferred indictments against the mayor of Philadelphia and other members of the police commission in Philadelphia because of the pattern of violence which they condoned.
Mr. Nixon: Was he convicted?
Mr. Renwick: The trial has not taken place as yet.
I do not consider that what happened in New York City, and subsequently in other cities in the United States, has to be or should be repeated here or would be condoned here by the police or anyone else.
I quote from a book -- its title will endear itself to the Solicitor General -- The Politics of Protest. It happens to be a report submitted by Jerome Skolnick, director of the task force on violent aspects of protest and confrontation of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. In this report it is stated:
“Both because it served as an example for police elsewhere and because of its role in the evolution towards militancy of the police involved, the most single significant case is the civilian review board battle in New York City. There, in 1966, the largest police force in America, led by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, successfully appealed to the public to vote a civilian review board out of existence.
“On July 7, 1966, Mayor Lindsay fulfilled a campaign promise by appointing a review board made up of three policemen and four civilians. The PBA placed a referendum on the November ballot to abolish the board. From then on, until the election, the PBA conducted one of the most hard-fought and bitter political campaigns in New York City’s history. According to a number of accounts, policemen campaigned hard while on duty, patrol cars and wagons bore anti-review board signs, police passed out literature and even harassed persons campaigning on the other side. Many have claimed that at the height of the campaign cars with bumper stickers supporting civilian review were flagrantly ticketed while an anti-review sticker seemed to make autos almost ticketproof.”
It goes on at some length. “One poster depicted damaged stores and a rubble-strewn street and read, ‘This is the aftermath of a riot in a city that had a civilian review board.’ Included in the text was a statement by J. Edgar Hoover that civilian review boards virtually paralysed the police. Another poster showed a young girl fearfully leaving a subway exit on to a dark street. ‘The civilian review board must be stopped. Her life, your life may depend on it.’
“On November 8, 1966, election night, the civilian review board was buried by a landslide of almost two to one. Similar battles have long since been waged in cities throughout the nation.”
In the United States that was the end of the civilian review procedure for practical purposes. I am simply saying to the Solicitor General that should not in any way dissuade us from looking at a model for a civilian review of police complaints that will be a model of which we can all be very proud.
I would have hoped -- and I know it is not within the possibility of even an ecumenical body such as this assembly that immediately after we have had the vote on second reading of Bill 47, we could perhaps move second reading of the bill of my colleague the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner), Bill 11, and refer the two bills out to the committee. They both reflect two different starting points from which we can at some point reach the kind of consensus and agreement -- not compromise at the expense of principle, but consensus on the basis of principle -- that will result in the kind of bill we want.
As I turn to Bill 47 specifically, I need not read into the record the principles we espouse. We will have an opportunity in committee to distribute copies of the principles we have tried to espouse broadly. They are in the form of a resolution and appear on the Order Paper, as does my colleague’s Bill 11. I will not take up the time of the House on that question.
I want to spend a little bit of time talking about the kinds of complaints because we have tended to lump them altogether into the word “complaint,” both in the bill and in our discussion of it. Each of us tends to fasten upon the particular kind of complaint we are thinking about. For some of us, there are different kinds of areas of police activity which can give rise to the kinds of complaints that require the bill.
Others think it is some form of cosmetic operation simply because what we are really talking about is that confrontation that takes place through the car window when you are stopped by a police officer, Mr. Speaker, on a busy morning because you have exceeded the speed limit. Your temper flares and his temper flares. Before you know it, you are having something which we call a personality clash due to the heat of the summer morning or the cold of the winter evening or perhaps because you have imbibed the one drink that keeps you below the level of the requirement for impaired driving. It is that kind of thing that is, somehow or other, just two people who are having a little clash. Tomorrow they will apologize to each other, if given the proper forum, shake hands and disappear, each agreeing that one is a fine citizen and the other is certainly an exemplary police officer.
That is one kind of problem. I don’t want to minimize it because the tensions of police work are bound to lead in any situation to that kind of flareup between one citizen and another citizen where the one citizen has the duty, on behalf of the other citizen, of carrying out the law and trying to enforce it, particularly in the area of traffic.
The other areas are much more serious and of much greater concern to us. Let me start at the far end and work back into the kinds of complaint concerns where the seriousness of the infringement of the freedoms or the liberties of the citizen are of a different magnitude. I am speaking of that period of time from after the arrest until the interrogation is completed. That is a very significant area where complaints must have an avenue for registration and open dealing to determine whether or not they are justified and whether or not there has been any unnecessary or excessive use of force.
A year ago in the Solicitor General’s estimates I drew the attention of the Solicitor General and his advisers to the report of the committee of inquiry into police interrogation procedures in Northern Ireland. It was presented to the Parliament of the United Kingdom by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in March 1979. It is a particularly illuminating report because it had to deal with the interrogation procedures in very difficult and tense circumstances of terrorism and other violent political action but which were grounded in criminal offences or in similar activities.
In the principal conclusions, there are some very important recommendations which that body made. They recommended, for example, that a code of conduct should be drawn up for interviewing officers to form a separate section of the code governing police. One can look as one wants to through Ontario’s Police Act, but there is no code of behaviour with respect to police officers during the course of interrogation.
Everyone knows the interrogation of apprehended persons in our society with respect to the proof of crimes is an integral part of what we accept as the criminal process. Everyone knows that in the circumstances of that interrogation, in private, in isolation, in circumstances of psychological pressure, there can be incidents of violence and excessive force within police stations, on the way to police stations or in police cruisers that may very well be the basis for some complaint. That kind of complaint touches upon one of the serious flaws which is inherent in this bill.
When we move back to the period during an arrest, the actual confrontation under which a person resists an arrest being made is another situation which can give rise to the kinds of complaints which must have a proper avenue for civilian review. There is also that period of escalation in many cases, leading up to the arrest period, which may also give rise to complaints which require a procedure for settlement. This should be done in a way that will satisfy both the police officer representing the public and the public whom the police officer represents.
The Solicitor General also will be aware of three other areas of continuing concern. One involves union activities on picket lines. The whole history, tradition and background of it have been that the police are against the unions. I am not saying that is a valid position now, but the whole history of the union movement meant that the police were on the side of the employers and against the unions.
We in this party have tried to emphasize time and time again the importance that police officers, through a course of training and understanding, must come to accept that the right to strike, the right to picket, the right of lawful association and all of the civil liberties of our time are part and parcel of our society. They may not necessarily approve of these things, but they are the rights of those people just as much as anyone else.
Then there is the whole question of behaviour or styles or fashions of people, about which there is nothing criminal, but which are considered by many people to be deviant behaviour. That brings up the whole question of the prejudices of the society towards people who are gay and the attitudes we have about that kind of problem. It requires intelligent, objective assessment to say that is acceptable behaviour and is not criminal behaviour. People must have the sense that that does not deserve or bring upon them some special attention from the police because the police, reflecting the society they represent, may have views about that kind of behaviour which makes it distasteful or emotionally unacceptable to them.
The Solicitor General chairs -- I don’t know how many votes he has, though my count would indicate he probably has three -- the cabinet committee on race relations. That committee is composed of the Attorney General, Solicitor General, Minister of Education and Minister of Labour with the Attorney General as chairman.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: And the Minister of Culture and Recreation.
Mr. Renwick: The Attorney General is not only the chairman, but he is also the Solicitor General and the Attorney General. I don’t know what he and the Minister of Culture and Recreation do. I just don’t understand how that operates but he works very closely with the race relations commissioner, Dr. Ubale, who is a very personal friend of his. Indeed, he is inseparable. Very rarely can I attend a meeting, even a private meeting with people in my own riding representing minority groups, but that Dr. Ubale appears there with me at the meeting to join in the discussion and, undoubtedly, in a kind and friendly way, to let the Attorney General know what the member for Riverdale was up to on that particular occasion.
The minister is well aware that attitudes of people towards people of different races create significant problems. By our training, background and behaviour, we treat different people in different ways. Nowhere is that more clearly reflected than in a multicultural society which is relatively new in origin as that society attempts to accommodate itself to all of those changes.
Those are the kinds of complaints we are talking about. They cover a very broad spectrum of bias, prejudice, attitude, culture and relationships between dominant groups and subservient subordinate groups in this society in a way which requires that the police reflect that community and reflect it in a way which does credit to the community which it does serve.
I reiterate what I said at the beginning. It is the failure of the leadership of the police in the Metropolitan Toronto Board of Commissioners of Police, which this minister is not prepared to face up to, which has meant that the police force has not responded in the way it should have responded.
One of the methods by which we can restore that kind of relationship is by an adequate civilian review procedure. If one takes the bill which is now before us -- and there are three or four major points that we have significant problems with in the bill -- at no point in the process can the citizen who registers the complaint require as a right a hearing by the board. We establish a police complaints board. The public complaints commissioner is the chairman of that board. The public complaints commissioner in a funny way has certain equivalences, but not an identical relationship, to the registrar in the format developed by the New Democratic Party.
But if one examines the bill very carefully, there is no way the citizen can at any point in the process get to the point where he says: “I want a hearing before the police complaints board.” I simply draw the attention of the House to section 18, where that right is totally nonexistent. The only ways in which hearings can be held are if the police chief has referred a matter in a certain way, a police officer has appealed to the board, or the public complaints commissioner has himself ordered a hearing. That is a fundamental and significant omission in our view.
Another problem we have with the bill is the immense internalization and anonymity surrounding the establishment under this act of the public complaints investigation bureau as a branch of the Metropolitan Toronto police force and who the person is in that particular bureau to whom the citizen can go, knowing that person is in charge of that bureau and is the person to whom the complaint can be made if the civilian decides he will go there and not to the public complaints commissioner.
The other major concern we have with the bill is that the process that involves the chief of police and this particular branch of the Metropolitan Toronto police is such a long drawn-out process, or could be such a long drawn-out process, that there would be no way in which a citizen at the end of that process would want to take any further step about it, even if he could appeal to the public complaints commissioner.
There is a point in the first 30 days or before the first interim report is made about any complaint where the public complaints commissioner can intrude on the process and carry out his own particular hearing. But it is only the first 30-day period, and he is not going to do it except in some unusual circumstances where the intervention calls for it.
Our party believes it may be possible to work it out in the process of work in the committee. But we feel there is a fundamental flaw in having this question of civilian complaints dealt with within the internalized apparatus of the Metropolitan Toronto police. We are not saying there must not be an informal arrangement by which certain kinds of complaints can be ironed out. We are not asking that every single complaint should go through the whole process. But in order to reach that informal solution of problems in an atmosphere conducive to settlement work, the civilian has to have the backstop right to go and have the hearing if he wishes to. That will do more to make sure the informal arrangements for the resolution of certain of the complaints can be carried out because he knows he is free to carry out the exercise of his right.
We have not in this bill conferred any significant right on anyone. We have, as usual, adopted a procedural method designed to produce a solution that is just and acceptable, but we have done it without conferring any right. In the Legal Aid Act we at least conferred the right, even though in certain areas we then had to carve it out, cut it back a little bit and make it discretionary in the process, but the main body of the Legal Aid Plan was to confer a right. This bill will never be acceptable so long as that is not incorporated.
There are other very serious errors. We do not know why the minister clings to the view that the appointments to this board dealing with Metropolitan Toronto must be by the provincial government. The provincial government is in politics and the Metro council is in politics, but the Metro council governs the Metropolitan Toronto area. After all, he has accepted the dreadful device known as the project. Whenever any of these projects report there will be nobody in this assembly who was here at the inception, so no one will ever understand whether the project worked or didn’t work. We have had that device tried on us on a number of occasions.
I am also very much concerned that there should be some clear indication somewhere that this isn’t such a tippy-toe, timid procedure for an area such as Metropolitan Toronto that it could not be adopted as a project by some suitable enabling clause by any regional government or any other urban area in Ontario, should it choose to adopt it in an enlightened sense of the public interest and the future of its police force. We don’t have to play God to the municipalities. We should be able to say to them, “This is the best kind of project this assembly could work out,” assuming we reach the kind of agreement I am hopeful will be permitted within the committee. Then we could say to any of the other provinces: “This is the project. You may want to try this. You may want to have your own project for two or three years and see whether or not it works and is conducive to the improvement of relationships between the public and the police.”
I think I have covered most of the matters I wanted to touch upon related to this bill. The final remark I would like to make is to repeat what I said at the beginning. I would want this to come to a committee outside the House, so we can hear the delegations who are concerned and have very special interests in this area -- and everybody is entitled to let us have their special interests in this area. With competent members of the assembly on it, of which there are of course 125, less the cabinet -- I didn’t mean the cabinet was incompetent; I meant the cabinet wouldn’t be sitting on the committee -- that committee can fashion a bill where I think we can have our principles, the government can have its principles, the Liberal Party, insofar as its principles are discernible, can have its principles and we can all fashion a bill which will be a very fine model.
One of the documents the Solicitor General sent over to me a while back dealing with this matter has quite a fascinating article. Written in 1974 it dealt with that benighted place, Philadelphia, which was published in the Temple Law Quarterly. I thought it had two or three comments that are well worth ending my remarks with. They point to the possibility of finding the theme under which we can reach agreement about the bill and where the common interests are going to have to be united in order to reach that point. I am quoting from the conclusion of that quite scholarly article.
“In order to reach a possible solution to the problem of civilian complaints of police conduct, one must search for some emerging thread of shared values among the involved parties which could serve as the basis for a working relation on a civilian complaint review system. Due to the minorities’ exclusion from the process of shaping the prevailing values of our era, this search for shared values between minorities and police is particularly difficult. There is a great disparity in the values held by police and minorities and at times very little value sharing.
“However, in the area of police conduct there appears to be one value or goal which is shared by each of the interest groups: the goal of police restraint. All groups generally agree with the principle of police restraint, but they do not agree as to the exact form or degree of restraint which should be imposed or the parties who should restrain the police.
“An ineffective civilian complaint review system will not carry out that particular goal. An effective institutional remedy is imperative and all would benefit by the emergence of such a remedy. The police could eliminate counter-productive police misconduct, and the minorities’ complaints would be heard and acted upon by a fairly constituted board.”
At the very end of the article, it states: “Independent of these external indications of the need for some form of civilian review of police misconduct, there are certain intrinsic needs of the community which can only be satisfied by civilian review. First, only a civilian review board can best promote the community interest in police restraint, for such a board will not limit the scope of its inquiry merely to the internal problems of police regulation infractions as the present civilian complaint review system has” -- and that was speaking about the one in Philadelphia.
“Secondly, a civilian review board will demand substantial justification for police misconduct and will not accept the typical stereotyped characterization of minorities’ behaviour as justification for police actions.”
I think that is quite sufficient, other than to remark upon the Police Act itself in so far as the bill of the Solicitor General is concerned, where section 2 says, “This act applies only to complaints made by members of the public respecting the conduct of police officers on the Metropolitan Police Force and hearings under this act and disciplinary proceedings under the Police Act and the regulations thereunder arising out of such complaints.”
The code set out in the regulations to the Police Act has not been drafted in any way with the kind of complaint in mind that in most cases comes before this kind of civilian review board. As I spoke of the necessity of a code or regulations establishing a code with respect to interrogation procedures by the police both on and off the police station site, I also recommend that the code be changed. When one reads the code and the kinds of charges of which the police officers may be found guilty under the various headings, such as discreditable conduct -- perhaps under that one we can pick it up as acting in a manner prejudicial to discipline or likely to bring discredit upon the reputation of the police force, we have to strain quite a bit to find any particular area where the complaint of the civilian has any bearing on what they are talking about.
The second heading is “Insubordination,” and that describes that. The third one is “Neglect of duty.” The fourth one is “Deceit.” The fifth one is “Corrupt practices.” The next one is “Breach of confidence.” The next one is “Unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority, damage to clothing or equipment, consuming intoxicating liquor in a manner prejudicial to duty, lending money to a superior” -- one must never do that -- “and borrowing money or accepting a present from any inferior in rank.”
A reading of those would indicate the code is not directed towards the civilian complaint as envisaged by Bill 47. The cursory or elliptical way in which that has been included in section 2 of the bill will mean that that code of conduct, which is established by regulation in the Police Act for internal force discipline, will need substantial work done on it in order to meet the requirements of the civilian complaints review part.
The Solicitor General probably thinks I am going to continue to think up comments to make, but my very last one at this time is that we were very concerned in our statement of principles that the review process of the civilian review board should not have any authority to intrude upon the disciplinary procedures of the force. A reading of our statement of principles would indicate we relied on publicity and the notification to the chief of police, to the board of police commissioners and to the Metropolitan council of the particulars of any kind of investigation or the recommendations and conclusions that were found in any particular thing, and we left it then up to the chief of police in his force to exercise his own discipline.
With regard to the discipline of the police force, which is essential to its sound operation, I have very serious reservations about having a provision for intervention by the civilian board as to what should be done by the police as a result of an investigation. We could very well think simply of the kind of way in which we tried to structure it, that publicity itself would look after that kind of question. The police chief, being concerned and proud about his force -- and I know of no police chief who has held office in my adult years who would not want to do it in the proper circumstances -- would take the report and, in the light of that, if it was properly done, exercise his own discipline and not have some civilian board enforcing the discipline within the force.
I have gone on at some length, Mr. Speaker, but I wanted to express personal concerns and concerns of the caucus as well as to express, as I hope I have, on two or three occasions during the course of my remarks, the anticipatory hope that by the time we reassemble in this chamber, I think early in October, we will have a model which can attract the unanimous support of all the members of this assembly without having to infringe in any way upon the basic attitudes -- which we have raised to the point of principle and which I am sure the Solicitor General has raised to a point of principle, and that that accommodation, particularly if my colleague the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) is on that committee when those discussions take place, will lead to that much to be desired result.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I rise in a slight state of hesitancy to speak very briefly to this bill because I do not have the legal background or experience of the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) or the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) and because I do not have the experience in Metro Toronto that many of the members on all sides of the House have.
But I still feel a need to address a few words to the bill because I have a sense that what we are debating here tonight, although initially restricted to Metro Toronto, may not restrict itself over the long run just to Metro Toronto.
It has been my own experience in that great area of Waterloo county, or Waterloo region as it is properly called, that we have on a number of occasions been the inheritor of other experiments that have been tried out in Metro. Our form of regional government was inherited from Metro and our consolidated school board was inherited from Metro. I suspect very strongly that this project, which we hope will be amended -- and I address that remark to the Solicitor General -- will prove to have some advantages which will then spread throughout the entire province. That is the first reason I wanted to address myself to it.
The second one is that perhaps one of the most highly publicized examples of the public’s wanting to make a complaint against the police force took place in the regional municipality of Waterloo. I am referring to that famous case of our former chief Syd Brown.
I want to share with my colleagues that that particular experience was one that had two very strong public reactions. As a number of members may recall, the particular incident involved some rather heavy-handed treatment of some members of a motor cycle gang. One aspect of public reaction was that they got exactly what they deserved and they should have probably got a couple of more licks. That was the one side of the coin.
The other side of the coin, and equally strong, was that some members of the Waterloo police force had gone too far. They had gone beyond the proper exercise of their role. I say that because even those who were concerned about the police having gone too far in that situation were concerned because they felt in the long run the wellbeing of all citizens was at stake. They did not for one minute believe the motor cycle gang members should not have been dealt with by the police in the proper fashion. They did not believe, given the circumstances as they were revealed, that the motor cycle members did not deserve to be taken in by the police. What concerned them was whether anyone was safe if the police could deal with anybody, any citizen, any human being in such an arbitrary fashion, regardless of the reason -- and the evidence has clearly shown that the provocation did not warrant the kind of action that took place.
I say that recognizing the very difficult job police have to do. I think I speak for many of my constituents, who also recognize the very difficult job the police have to do. As has been pointed out by the member for Riverdale, the police are one of the few segments of our society that are given such sweeping powers. They are given the power to use force when necessary. They are given the power even to use the ultimate force, the power to kill, when it becomes necessary.
We have no one else in a situation like that in our society, except the army during war time. In the normal day-by-day affairs of our society, we don’t give that kind of power to anybody. Therefore, every policeman who puts on that badge carries the burden of that responsibility. At the same time, because of that power, every single policeman or policewoman knows that he or she must literally bend over backwards to use the greatest possible restraint. That is a heavy burden they have to carry.
One of the things we have been able to look back on in the past with nostalgia is that frequently the mere presence of the policeman on the beat was sufficient in many cases to prevent wrongdoing from taking place.
We know there are many changes in our society. There are fewer policemen on the beat and most of our police officers are in cars these days.
As an aside, in my own city of Kitchener that is not necessarily true. There are still many police officers on the beat. In many cases, because of their presence, a great deal of prevention takes place rather than a cure being necessary. Nevertheless, the point I’m trying to make is that I, as a member of this Legislature, and the constituents whom I represent recognize the serious responsibility and the heavy burden that all police officers have to carry.
Yet what are we dealing with in this case? There are two sides to it, as there always seem to be when we have a point of conflict. I want to repeat the words of my colleague the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) that we do not in any way want our request for an amendment to imply that we are ganging up against the police. That is not the point at all. The police officers are one side of this issue and the general public is the other side of this issue. We must weigh the needs of both in the balance. We can’t say one is all right and one is all wrong. That is not the issue here. There are the two sides, two dimensions.
Let us just stop for a second and try to understand the emotional state of a member of the public who, for whatever reason, decides he or she wants to make a complaint against a police officer’s action. Most of us are very rarely in a police station. Most of very rarely have a direct, face-to-face confrontation with a police officer. This is not something we do on a regular basis. When it does occur it makes a tremendous emotional drain upon us. We have severe reservations.
Yet here we have a member of the public who already has had confrontation with a police officer -- and we are not talking here about hardened criminals but about law-abiding citizens 99.9 per cent of the time. I do not think it matters in this situation that we have a citizen who may have done something wrong. That is not the issue. The fact is that we are asking complainants to go initially to the very group of people with whom they have had the confrontation.
That is our concern and that is the point we are trying to get across to the Solicitor General. If we are going to set up a civilian process, then surely that person should have the right to go to someone other than a police officer. Someone other than a police officer should make the first decision as to what is to be done with that complaint. The commissioner might very well decide, after hearing both sides of the argument, to turn it over to the police for further investigation.
We have no opposition to that. Our opposition is to who gets it first and who makes the first decision. That is the problem. All we’re asking from the Solicitor General is to understand the basic situation that’s here.
If we look at the title of this bill, it says, “to improve methods of processing complaints by members of the public.” Then we turn over the page where the explanatory note says, “The commissioner shall monitor and review the handling of complaints by the police.”
Those two statements are in contradiction to one another. In the first case, we say the public is going to process it, and in the second statement we say the police are going to process it. The commissioner is simply going to monitor and review the process. That is where our problem is. That is where this conflict comes in. All we are asking from the Solicitor General is to recognize that in this kind of situation, as in few others, one of the most important, significant and essential components is that justice must be perceived to be done.
We have members of the public here who are not on a regular basis dealing with the police, or who have already had a confrontation with the police and are going to be very reluctant. I would predict to the Solicitor General that many people who should raise a complaint will not do it. They are going to be reluctant to go to another police officer. If we believe in the principle of this legislation and want this legislation to be applied and to work, then we must provide the opportunity in it for members of the public making complaints to go to a civilian review board first and make their complaints, to give that review board the first opportunity to decide what will happen. It may be turned over to the police or it may not. That is the issue at stake here.
While we respect, admire and want to assist in every way we can the police officers involved, they are one side of the issue. The other side is the public, and we must give them a fair chance as well.
Mr. Bolan: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few comments on the bill. In fact, I have several comments to make on it, particularly with respect to the point that on my reading of the bill the opportunity is simply not there for citizens to make complaints. The main reason for this, as my colleague from Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) has said, is that the complaints are being processed by a member of the police force against which the complaint is being launched. I submit that is wrong. If people are to be invited to go out and make legitimate complaints against what they consider to be wrongs, then they would like to go to a place where there is an independent body completely separated from the administrative branch of government.
The other thing that concerns me about the bill is that it is on a trial basis with respect to Metropolitan Toronto only. What about all the other areas in the province where there are abuses about which people complain? What is to happen to the people in those areas? Are they merely to be held in limbo until this little trial exercise has had an opportunity to work its way through the system? It is like running little, funny polls, as the government has been doing over the past while. If it is something which is deemed to be reasonably accepted by the public then they are going to look at the whole thing again, run it through and then maybe apply it to all of Ontario.
I submit that is not the way to introduce legislation, It should be uniform, and it should apply to all the people of the province. It should not be set up in the manner in which this bill is.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other member wish to speak on second reading?
Mr. Lawlor: Can we speak a second time?
Mr. Speaker: No. Does the honourable member for Burlington South wish to say something?
Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I have some knowledge of the proposed legislation. As honourable members know, it has been discussed by this House and by the Solicitor General’s ministry for some years.
There have been reports, royal commissions and other studies with respect to civilian review boards, all coming to different conclusions. The main thrust of some of the remarks that have been made in the last half hour or so, particularly by the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney), was the importance of the complaint by the citizen being made to a civilian review board at the first opportunity and initially.
I do not agree with that, mainly because I would say 90 per cent of the complaints that are made about police and police actions are cleared up after an initial interview with the police chief or one of the senior officers on a police force.
Honourable members have referred to the police in a very general sort of way, but there is a form of employer-employee relationship between police officers and the rank and file of the police force. There is no group of people in society who are more disciplined than police officers. They are under strict control to adhere to a certain conduct and a certain behaviour 24 hours a day. Although there are always a few bad apples in any force, the overwhelming number of police officers in Metropolitan Toronto or anywhere in this province I am aware of are upstanding men and women who are dedicated to their job and not interested in any form of police brutality or harassment.
In dealing with the point that has been raised, particularly by the member for Kitchener-Wilmot, I would suggest that initially, as this bill provides, the first complaint should go to the police force, to a police officer who is in charge of complaints against the members of that force. That person is then called up on the carpet, told that certain allegations have been made against him and asked how he answers to those.
If this bill is the same one I had something to do with, I assume the complainant will be able to appear before somebody on the force to make that complaint. If that person who complains is not satisfied with the disposition of that complaint, then he has an opportunity to go further and eventually before a civilian review board. As I say, 90 per cent of the complaints are settled at that first level, sometimes with just an apology from the police officer, particularly in a multicultural community such as Metropolitan Toronto where there is a certain amount of feeling, language problems and a different idea as to the role of a police officer than there may have been back in the old country.
When that person sees there is some interest by the police department and senior police officers in his complaint, if it is dealt with with some despatch, if he gets a hearing and some attention and if the police officer is in many respects forced to appear before his accuser and answer those complaints, at that point in the overwhelming majority of cases the matter is closed.
I think this Legislature would be wrong in changing that procedure. We should not be too naive about investigations of accusations of police brutality. As was suggested by the honourable member, we will give it to a civilian or group of civilians who will investigate, but the fact is that they will ask the police force or some members of that police force to investigate. The same process will be followed except that the police officer will not hear the charge; a civilian review board will.
If this bill is approved this evening, I suggest we will find from experience a year or two years from now that what I have said regarding the number of settlements of complaints was correct.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, obviously I have enjoyed a great deal the debate on principle and second reading of this important bill, Bill 47.
I think I have a fairly clear understanding of the concerns of the members of the New Democratic Party. They have indicated that they are hoping the bill will go out to committee; I have no objections to that. They have the right -- the 20 members -- to request it. Given their desire, I make it quite clear that I would not attempt in any way to stand in the way, and I obviously cannot.
It may well be that other interested groups may wish to speak to this matter or to be heard before a committee of this Legislature. I might say in that context that we have consulted a large number of individuals outside the police community as well as having had consultation within the police community, because, needless to say, a bill of this nature is obviously going to be highly controversial. It is the type of legislation that, quite frankly, is capable of creating a great deal of misunderstanding as to the objectives of the legislation. That misunderstanding, with great respect, has been reflected by some of the comments I have heard during the two evenings we have been discussing this legislation. But we have no objections to the bill going out to committee, if it gets that far.
The members of the New Democratic Party have said they want to have the opportunity of discussing this bill in committee. They want the opportunity for certain citizen groups and others to appear before the committee and have urged me to accede to their request, which I have. On the one hand they want it to go out to committee, while on the other hand they want to vote against the bill on second reading. I must admit I am a little bit puzzled as to what they are hoping to accomplish through this exercise. I had assumed that if the bill did not pass second reading it obviously would not go out to committee. So I have to confess that I am a little confused as to the goals of the New Democratic Party in this matter.
In so far as the official opposition is concerned the critic for the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio), stated that he supported the principle of the bill. They were also going to discuss some possible amendments in committee; that was the view of the member for York Centre (Mr. Stong). He had suggested some possible amendments, and I am going to deal with that as that appears to be causing some concern within the ranks of the Liberal Party.
I do not know what sort of hospitality was afforded to other members of the Liberal Party this evening, but some members have stood up in the Legislature and taken a very different position than the esteemed justice critic and the esteemed member for York Centre. But it must have been a great gathering.
In any event, I am a little puzzled as to what precisely is the concern of the Liberal Party. I think part of the problem that has been caused in this whole debate is some of these almost slogans, “Police can’t investigate police,” or “Police should investigate police.” When we deal in absolute terms such as this I think we probably create an unnecessary degree of polarization. We also create misunderstanding about what the legislation is all about.
The member for St. George stands up and says, “I cannot support any legislation that involves police investigating allegations of police misconduct.” Then she suddenly decides that her position is going to stand or fall on that. A few minutes later the member for Kitchener-Wilmot says, “I would like the complaints commissioner to have an opportunity to review the bill first, but I assume that it may be a case where the police should be investigating.” It seems to me to represent two very different approaches.
I think we get into difficulty when we attempt to talk about this very important legislation in absolute terms. We are not talking about police investigating allegations against police -- at least not in my view. This legislation does not attempt to enshrine any principle for or against in absolute terms. It is quite clear that the police are to be encouraged to resolve these complaints. As the former Solicitor General said, 90 per cent of these complaints at the present time are resolved informally. But we have built into the legislation the office of commissioner for citizens’ complaints who will have the authority to inquire into and investigate, as I refer to in section 14(3).
What we are trying to accomplish in this legislation is to maintain the quality of police-citizen relationships that we do enjoy in this area. The former Solicitor General states -- and it is a figure that I think I am fairly familiar with -- that 90 per cent of these citizens’ complaints against the police are resolved informally to the satisfaction of the citizen -- by the normal human interaction between the police forces and the citizen. We certainly do not want to create, as has apparently been suggested, legislation that is going to impede and significantly obstruct that informal resolution to citizens’ complaints. I think it is essential to bear that in mind. Successful policing is going to depend essentially upon maintaining that healthy relationship at the community level between the members of the community and the local police.
Where citizen review boards have gone afoul, where they have created enormous problems in the policing community and for the citizens, is that they have been imposed on this relationship. They have become a barrier between the citizen and the police department. This informal resolution that I think really has achieved a very high degree of success in this province can be lost by this simplistic suggestion that automatically police should not be entitled or encouraged or allowed to investigate allegations of misconduct against members of their own force.
Obviously, to talk about the whole issue, the whole principle, in absolute terms is to miss the whole point of what we are trying to accomplish in this legislation, that is, a high degree of flexibility. We are concerned about citizens, even if they may be in a very small minority. Regardless of how small that minority may be, we have to be concerned about the number of citizens who feel the present system doesn’t afford a reasonable degree of fairness to them. It is that relatively small minority this legislation hopes to reach.
The Metropolitan Toronto police department, the Metropolitan Toronto Board of Commissioners of Police and the Metropolitan Toronto Council all recognize they can improve the existing situation and can enhance the process. They have requested us to introduce this legislation. Fundamental to this legislation, with respect, should be the principle that we do not, if I may speak in the vernacular, throw out the baby with the bath water and that we do not do anything to undermine the very effective police community relationship that at present exists.
What we are trying to do is to build on to that and at the same time to continue to encourage the informal resolution of citizens’ complaints against the police, which are often resolved simply by a police officer who may be the object of a complaint and the concerned citizen just sitting down together -- not having to march before some citizens’ review board -- in an office and talking the issue out. No adversarial process is structured to interfere with this informal resolution. That is fundamental to this legislation. On top of that, what we are trying to do is create another office for the first time in this province, the office of the commissioner for citizens’ complaints, and an alternative forum for the citizens to be heard.
The member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) was casting some aspersions -- I know tongue in cheek -- in the general direction of some of my advisers. I can say at the outset my instructions to my advisers were that, having looked at the matter in other jurisdictions, reviewed the matter carefully and having some degree of familiarity, we were not going to create a separate, independent investigative body that would automatically review each and every citizen’s complaint.
I come back to the issue of police investigating complaints against the police. I might say this issue was debated at great length in the British House of Commons. The decision of that body was that the police should continue to investigate police complaints against themselves. It was a very careful, very thoughtful, very considered debate over a long period of time. The British system has been in existence for only two or three years, so we can’t make any final judgement on its effectiveness.
Mr. Speaker: Is the Solicitor General going to be much longer?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes, I will be a few more minutes, Mr. Speaker.
On motion by Hon. Mr. McMurtry, the debate was adjourned.
Mr. Speaker: Under standing order 28, a motion to adjourn the House has been deemed to have been made. The honourable member for Downsview has indicated his displeasure with the answer given by the Solicitor General on an earlier occasion. I will hear the honourable member for up to five minutes.
POLICE ROLE IN LABOUR DISPUTES
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, we have been asking on this side of tile House. myself and the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie), a question related to a strike which has been dragging on for four weeks now at Nelson Crushed Stone and Dufferin Aggregates. I notice the Solicitor General has not done us the courtesy of listening and replying to a question that was directed to him. He has walked out of the House. I think that is an insult to the Legislature. By walking out, he is doing nothing else but confirming what the unions have been saying, that the police in this strike have been playing the role of protecting the scabs and allowing the company to break a legal strike and to break the union.
In that strike are involved people who have invested capital which is relevant for them. All their income is derived from the work they do in those places. In the present situation they are put in a condition of total despair and frustration. We had at that strike the police force in an outrageous number, 50 policemen on a picket line where there were not more than 20 to 25 picketers. We have the pictures. It looks like an army trying to stop peaceful picketers trying to defend their jobs and trying to negotiate with a company which has been defaulting on their past verbal commitments. The only thing the truckers are asking for is job security. They have invested $65,000 in buying trucks and have been working for up to 15 and 25 years in those quarries. All at once, by refusing to bargain with them in good faith, the company is depriving them of the only income available to them.
This company has set up firms that are in effect subcontracting jobs to independent truckers and, therefore, making the life of the dependent truckers impossible. That is one of the major reasons why the strike is dragging on for such a long time. Recently, the company has set up a centralized dispatching system which is one of the systems by which former managers from the same company give the jobs to the truckers they choose. They ask for a percentage that goes up to 15 to 20 per cent, which means that at this point the dependent truckers do not have the security of the job, do not have a fixed fee for the materials they transport and are totally at the mercy of the company.
The role of the police in this strike, instead of being neutral and providing a service to the workers as well as to the employer, is one that protects only the interest of the employer. One can see from the pictures they blocked the entry to the quarries. As a local newspaper, the Canadian Champion, said: “Fifty police officers, the majority on foot, were escorting the independent truckers slowly but surely.” That is what the police are doing. The Solicitor General, by leaving the House, has become an accomplice in their actions.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr. Speaker: It would appear this matter is now dispensed with.
The House adjourned at 10:36 p.m.