Figueiras v. Toronto Police Services Board, 2014 ONSC
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently dismissed
an application brought against the Toronto and York Region Police
Services Boards and an individual officer arising out of police
enforcement during the G20 Summit. The Applicant sought a
declaration that his Charter rights were violated along
with other relief flowing from an interaction he had with officers
in downtown Toronto during the Summit.
On Sunday June 27, 2010, the Applicant and some friends, while
looking for a demonstration, were walking south on University
Avenue towards the security perimeter surrounding the Summit
The Applicant was dressed in black clothing and wore dark
sunglasses. Some members of the group had placards and pamphlets.
Many of them, including the Applicant, carried backpacks.
Once the group reached the intersection of University Avenue and
King Street, several officers asked the group to consent to a brief
search of their bags before being allowed to proceed further toward
the security perimeter. All members of the group consented to the
search with the exception of the Applicant. A terse exchange of
words between the applicant and one of the officers followed. The
officer also put his arm around the Applicant during this exchange.
Eventually, the Applicant left the area proceeding away from the
The Applicant claimed that by preventing him from moving toward
the security perimeter, the Respondents violated his section 7
right to liberty and section 2 rights of freedom of expression and
association under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The
Applicant also claimed that the physical contact that took place
during the interaction with the police amounted to battery.
Justice Meyers dismissed the application in its entirety. He
found that while the officers' decision to stop individuals and
request that they consent to a search of their bags might have been
difficult to understand on "an ordinary downtown street",
the officers' conduct would have to be assessed in light of the
broader context of the widespread violence and vandalism that had
taken place the previous day during the G20 Summit.
The Applicant opted to seek a declaration under section 7 of the
Charter presumably on the basis that the liberty right
under that section was broader than the section 9 right to be free
from arbitrary detention. However, bearing in mind case law from
the Supreme Court of Canada, including R v. Grant, the
Respondents argued the issues on the application were more
appropriately addressed under section 9. Justice Meyers agreed that
the liberty interest at issue was the same as articulated in
Grant, but found that in any event, the officers'
conduct would be measured against the scope of police powers at
The Court noted that the police have statutory and common law
duties to preserve the peace and to prevent crime. In light of the
previous day's violence and vandalism near the security
perimeter and elsewhere throughout the downtown area, police had
reasonable concerns that renewed efforts would be made to disrupt
the Summit on the final day. Second, by focusing only on those who
appeared be engaging in protest and were carrying bags towards the
security perimeter, the Court held that the officers' approach
was sufficiently tailored to address security concerns and resulted
in the "minimum intrusion necessary and under the
In sum, the Court held that "the police intrusion in this
case was measured, reasonable, warranted and amounted to a typical
and minimal inconvenience of the same type that we put up with on a
daily basis in other circumstances where authorities have far less
basis for concern".
By finding that the officers acted within the scope of their
statutory duties and at common law, the Court held there was no
infringement of the Applicant's rights under section 2 of the
Charter. Moreover, Justice Meyers held that the Applicant
had not made out the tort of battery as the physical contact that
took place was de minimus, and in any event would have
been within the scope of force officers are justified in using
under section 25 of the Criminal Code.
This case provides a useful touchstone for the scope of police
authority in extraordinary situations. This decision also
highlights the need to consider the context when assessing an
officer's response to a given set of circumstances and
underscores that a certain degree latitude may be afforded officers
in the legitimate performance of their duties.
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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