Public inquiry into the G20 Summit still needed

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

March 1, 2011

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE calls on the Government of Canada to conduct a comprehensive public inquiry into the violations of the right to free expression and unacceptable treatment of journalists which took place at the G20 Summit.

Following the G20 Summit, CJFE and numerous other organizations called for a comprehensive inquiry including a thorough examination of police treatment of journalists covering the event. Eight months later, no such inquiry has been conducted by the Government of Canada.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) issued a report on February 28, 2011, outlining the major civil liberties violations which took place during the G20 Summit and provided recommendations for the federal government. The first of their recommendations is for a comprehensive public inquiry into the policing and governance of the G20 Summit.

The same day the report was issued Dalton McGuinty rejected the call for a public inquiry, stating that the five reviews already taking place would be sufficient. These reviews, conducted by various organizations, are not comprehensive and have differing terms of reference. None have a broad enough mandate to probe the role that CSIS and the RCMP played, and not all hold the authority to compel participation from the police force. This inability to gather information on how and why authorities made decisions ensures that we will not have a complete understanding of what happened.

CJFE believes that there are many unanswered questions regarding the violations of free expression at the G20 Summit. CJFE continues to call for a thorough investigation into police conduct at the G20 Summit and adds its voice to the urging of the CCLA and NUPGE that the Government of Canada conducts a comprehensive public inquiry.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Annie Game, Executive Director

Update: Read Premier Dalton McGuinty's response to CJFE's letter