[Hpn] Fwd: Safe Streets Act Challenge

Graeme Bacque graeme.bacque@3web.net
Sat, 06 Jan 2001 09:10:31 -0500


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Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2001 23:19:30 -0500 (EST)
From: OCAP <ocap@tao.ca>
To: toronto <toronto@tao.ca>
Subject: Safe Streets Act Challenge

For immediate release
Friday, January 5th, 2001


Court to hear Constitutional Challenge to the Safe Streets Act
Monday, January 8th, 2001
Old City Hall Court House
10:00 AM, Court Room 'M'


The Safe Streets Act, in its orientation and enforcement is intended to
criminalize those everyday activities homeless and poor people engage in
as means of survival.

It is widely understood that life on the street is volatile, difficult and
often times dangerous.  Legislation that singles out and specifically
targets a growing population of homeless and poor is without reason or
compassion and is itself dangerous and oppressive.

Since its enactment the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty has been
approached by dozens of individuals seeking representation on hundreds of
Safe Streets Act charges.  Young people with no criminal record or other
outstanding charges have been taken into custody and held for bail
hearings solely on charges laid under this Provincial statute.
Soliciting near a vehicle or in front of an automated teller machine are
now punishable with up to six months in jail on a second offence.

Lawyers Peter Rosenthal and Mary Birdsell will be acting on behalf of the
defendants and expect the crown to withdraw dozens of charges at the
outset due to lack of evidence.

The following is the legal basis for the constitutional question:

1.  Sections of the Act are outside of the jurisdiction of the Province of
Ontario, as the power to enact criminal law is exclusively reserved for
the Federal Government.

2. The impugned sections of the Act contravene section 7 of the Charter,
the right to life, liberty and security of the person.

3.  The vagueness and overbreadth of the impugned sections are contrary to
the principles of fundamental justice guaranteed by section 7 of the
Charter.

4.  The impugned sections infringe the right to freedom of expression
under section 2(b) of the Charter.

5.  The impugned sections of the Act discriminate against poor persons
within the meaning of section 15 of the Charter.

Press conference will be held prior to Court on the front steps of the Old
City Hall Court House at 9:30 AM.  Defendants will be present.

For more information contact: Peter Rosenthal, counsel at (416) 978-3090,
Jackie Esmonde, OCAP at (416) 536-9265 or Sue Collis, Ontario Coalition
Against Poverty at (416) 925-6939.



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