TORONTO, April 25, 2005 - The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) welcomes the "Report On The Police Complaints System In Ontario" by Mr. Justice Patrick LeSage and urges the Ontario Government to move ahead to quickly introduce the legislation that would make this a reality. The CRRF is particularly encouraged that the Justice LeSage is recommending the establishment of "an independent civilian body "to administer the public complaints system in Ontario."
"We are pleased that Mr. Justice LaSage has been specific in listing the roles and responsibilities of the new body, including that a civilian who has not been a police officer should head up this new body," commented Dr. Karen Mock, executive director of the Foundation. "The communities have always maintained - and which we emphasized in meeting Justice LeSage - that the complaints system must be independent, accessible and transparent. I think that his recommendations go a long way to achieving that."
The CRRF met with Justice LeSage on two separate occasions at his invitation. Some of the specific concerns the Foundation had has been addressed, including that the investigative staff of the new body should not be more than 50 percent of former police officers and they cannot conduct investigations that involve the service to which they were previously employed.
"We also welcome the recommendation to accept third-party complaints. It is not unusual that community members may be reluctant to exercise their right to complain because of a language barrier or past experiences they may have had with the police, therefore may be intimidated by the process. Having someone act on their behalf or supporting them can make a big difference.
"We look forward to seeing some movement from the provincial government now to get this new body and system in place as soon as possible."