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Get Help: General Public

Please note that our lawyers and our staff do not provide the following:

  • Legal advice
  • Referrals to other lawyers

Unfortunately, we are not able to provide assistance to members of the general public, except on the following issues:

  • Complaints against police officers
  • Infringements on the right to freedom of expression

However, we offer a number of Factsheets on a number of civil liberties issues. We also provide information on other legal services.

For more information, please click on one of the links to the right.

Complaints against police and other peace officers


Complaints against Police

There are multiple police forces in British Columbia, including municipal police and the RCMP. The provincial Police Act and the federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act set out processes for members of the public to file complaints against police officers with one of the civilian oversight bodies.

If you have an interaction with a police officer where the officer’s actions may constitute misconduct, you can file a complaint with one of the civilian oversight bodies.

In BC, “misconduct” may include:

  • Using abusive or insulting language against a person
  • Using unnecessary force against a person
  • Searching, detaining, or arresting a person without good and sufficient cause

Please read our Police Complaints Factsheet if:

  • You want to learn more about police complaint processes
  • You want to file a complaint for misconduct against a municipal police officer in British Columbia
  • You want to file a complaint for misconduct against an RCMP officer in British Columbia

We are limited to providing the following assistance on police complaints:

  • Information about the complaint processes
  • Information on what to include in your complaint

Once you have read our Factsheet, and you have questions, you can call us at 604-630-4986.


Complaints against Conservation Officers

In British Columbia, the Conservation Officer Service is a public body that focuses on natural resource law enforcement and human-wildlife conflicts prevention. Conservation officers are peace officers whose powers are governed under the Environmental Management Act.

If you have an interaction with a Conservation Officer where the officer’s actions may constitute misconduct, you can file a complaint with the Conservation Officer Service.

Please read our Powers of Conservation Officers Factsheet if:

  • You want to learn more about the powers of conservation officers
  • You want to file a complaint against a Conservation Officer for misconduct

We are limited to providing the following assistance on police complaints:

  • Information about the complaint processes
  • Information on what to include in your complaint

Once you have read our Factsheet, and you have questions, you can call us at 604-630-4986.


Privacy and Access to Information


Privacy

Everyone has the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy. Privacy law regulates the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information (i.e. identifiable information about an individual), including video or audio recordings and biometrics.

In British Columbia, privacy laws for private sector organizations (businesses, non-profits, landlords, etc.,) and public sector organizations (government ministries, municipal police forces, etc.) are governed under the following legislation:

Privacy laws for federally-regulated private sector organizations (airlines, banks, telecommunications companies, etc.) and public sector organizations (government ministries, RCMP, etc.) are governed under the following legislation:

Complaints for breaches to privacy laws can be filed with one of the following independent oversight bodies:

Please read our Privacy Factsheets if:

  • You want to learn more about privacy law in British Columbia
  • You want to file a complaint against a private or public sector organization for breaching your privacy rights

Once you have read our Factsheets, and you have questions, you can call one of the following:


Access to Information

Everyone has the right to access records held by government, subject to some limitations. Access to information law regulates access to records held by government ministries and their service providers, including police forces.

In British Columbia, access to information laws are governed under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FOIPPA”). FOIPPA guarantees members of the general public the right to access records held by BC government ministries and their service providers, with limitations, including:

  • Personal records: information of a personal nature about an identifiable individual, such as records held by a municipal police force
  • General records: information of a general nature that can be released in whole or in part, such as briefing notes, contracts, etc.

Access to information laws for federal institutions, such as government ministries and the RCMP, are governed under the following legislation:

Complaints for breaches to access to information laws can be filed with one of the following independent oversight bodies:

Please read our Access to Information Factsheet if:

  • You want to learn more about access to information law
  • You want to access a personal or general record from a government ministry or their service providers
  • You want to correct an error or omission in a record held by a government ministry or their service providers
  • You want to file a complaint against a private or public sector organization for a failure to release records

Once you have read our Factsheet, and you have questions, please call one of the following:



Freedom of Expression


Freedom of Expression

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, subject to some limitations, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Examples of circumstances in which your right to freedom of expression may be infringed include:

  • You are prohibited from protesting or demonstrating in a public space
  • You are prohibited from leaf-letting on government-owned and operated property, such as airports, courthouses, or public transit.
  • You are prohibited from accessing the social media accounts of government officials or government bodies, or you have access and the account has deleted any posts that you have made

Please read our Freedom of Expression Factsheet if:

  • You want to learn more about your right to freedom of expression
  • You want to respond to a potential infringement of your right to freedom of expression

We are limited to providing the following assistance if your right to freedom of expression has been infringed:

  • Information about your right to freedom of expression
  • Write a letter to the government agency or government official. For an example of one of our letters, please click here

Once you have read our Factsheet, and you have questions, you can call us at 604-630-4986.