Civil liberties groups from across Canada are gathering for the first time in more than forty years to respond to what they call unprecedented threats to rights and freedoms. The organizers of the high level discussion and strategy session that will parallel a public civil liberties conference, list government initiatives threatening to dramatically expand prison populations, truncate due process rights for refugees, spy on Canadian internet users, and whitewash draconian policing at major public events in Toronto as some of the urgent issues facing Canadians.
The meetings will include the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association (RMCLA), the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre (ACLRC) and the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership, and are part of the first pan-Canadian edition of the annual RightsWatch conference, an event that brings together law students, legal professionals, academics, activists and members of the public to discuss key contemporary civil liberties and fundamental freedoms issues.
“We are very pleased to be part of this national effort,” said Robert Holmes, Q.C., President of the BCCLA. “Canadians, like all free people, must be vigilant to protect rights and liberty. We must insist that the rule of law, due process, and fundamental justice are upheld, that governments and their agents remain accountable as servants of the people, and that the private and personal sphere of each individual is respected.”
The strategy sessions will take place in parallel with the main conference, scheduled for October 21 and 22 at the University of Calgary law school.
“”There is strength in numbers,” said Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, “And now is the time for civil liberties groups from across the country to think strategically about how they can jointly confront some of the key challenges to our fundamental freedoms in the current political, social and economic climate in Canada.”
The conference is open to the media. To register and for more information, please visit: www.ccla.org/events/rightswatch2011
Robert Holmes, Q.C., President, BCCLA, (604) 838-6856
David Eby, Executive Director, BCCLA, (778) 865-7997
Penelope Chester, CCLA (647)822-8764
Janet Keeping, Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership, 403-244-6666
Kelly Ernst, Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association, 403-389-8941
Linda McKay-Panos, Alberta Civil Liberties Resource Centre, (403) 220-2505