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by The Coalition Justice for Levi




The Coalition Justice for Levi and the Schaeffer family are delighted to announce and to celebrate a landmark decision by Ontario’s highest court released Tuesday, November 15th.  In the decision, the three party panel ruled unanimously that police involved in an SIU investigation are not permitted "to have lawyers vet their notes or to assist them in preparation of their notes."  The Schaeffer family, along with the family of Douglas Minty launched an application in Ontario’s courts in November of 2009.  They asked the courts to determine whether the O.P.P. conduct of lawyer vetting of police notes by officers prior to submitting their notes to the S.I.U. was or was not permitted by statute and regulation.  Today’s decision now brings legal, crystal clarity to the matters. 

The Coalition Justice for Levi is elated that the courts have applied their ability and responsibility to examine, scrutinize, and make firm determination on these matters.

The dysfunction of a severely compromised public oversight and investigation system inflicts an extraneous injury and harm on those families and communities that must already grieve the loss of a loved one.  It is hoped that this decision may spare others in the future who must already suffer the loss of a loved one at the hands of police but need not suffer the painful compounding of this pain with an egregious secondary harm.

The court’s decision to award 100,00 dollars in costs to the appellants who have incurred years of crippling legal costs is to be celebrated, but should be held in light of the reality that it should never, ever have been left to pocketbooks or sacrifice of the families of those killed by police to bring these matters to light.   The deep problems festering in the ambiguities of the relationship between the O.P.P., the S.I.U. and the law have long been elucidated in reports commissioned by the Attorney General’s office and an Ontario Ombudsman. Though awarded court costs now bring some relief, legal fundraising must nonetheless continue to meet substantial outstanding legal costs.

The Coalition Justice for Levi is encouraged by the court’s decision.  This decision upholds and strengthens the legal ability for public parties to access the powers of the courts and to ask those courts to examine and interpret questions of police accountability as they relate to law and public interest.  Today’s decision balances the need to protect the legal right of police officers to access council while equally ensuring the public that police officers may not breach the law as wrote because of internal policy or adherence to customary conduct or police culture.  This is one step towards clarifying the boundaries of enhanced rights conferred upon police and a step towards using a legal framework to limit and safeguard the public against a rising atmosphere of police impunity.

To each and every person that has helped us with this campaign over these last years: thankyou.  Your support, solidarity and resources have empowered Ontario families to challenge and effect a substantive change in the real workings between police and the public. You are all really, really shiny super stars.  We still need your help fundraising and linking this struggle and success to an ever growing grassroots movement dedicated to a vigilant dismantling of abusive police power…

We need justice for all communities, not police impunity.

In joy, thanks and celebration,

On behalf of the Coalition Justice for Levi,

Rachelle Sauvé

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