Ottawa – On Friday, April 19, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear arguments in Wood v. Schaeffer. The BCCLA is an intervener in the case.
The case involves Ontario’s Special Investigative Unit (SIU), the civilian agency responsible for conducting independent investigations into incidents involving the use of police force causing death or serious injury. The SIU was formed due to citizens’ concerns about having “police investigate the police.”
This case involves two separate fatal incidents involving the police. At issue is whether police officers who are witnesses to incidents attracting the attention of the SIU are entitled to obtain legal assistance in the preparation of their notes regarding the incident, and the nature of that legal assistance.
In both incidents, the SIU concluded that there were no reasonable grounds to believe that the shootings constituted criminal offences. However, the SIU reported that there were serious concerns about the reliability of the police officers’ notes.
The BCCLA will argue that police officers who witness investigations into the use of force by other police officers have a duty to write independent notes and that those notes must be made immediately after the occurrence of an incident. This duty is central to the integrity of the criminal justice system and the public’s confidence in the police. An officer who witnesses a bank robbery does not seek legal advice before completing the notes his or her duty requires. The fact that an officer is under investigation should not alter this normal practice.
The BCCLA is represented in this case Andrew I. Nathanson and Gavin R. Cameron of Fasken Martineau.
What: Supreme Court of Canada will hear oral arguments in Wood v. Schaeffer.
When: Oral arguments begin on Friday, April 19 at 6:30 am PST / 9:30 am EST
Where: Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario)