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The Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties (MARL) fully supports Louise Simbandumwe and her appointment as a member of the Winnipeg Police Board. We urge the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba to come to an agreement that will lead to background checks and vetting beingdone by an outside agency, such as the RCMP in order to avoid any suggestion of conflict.The Winnipeg Police Service is conducting security clearance background checks into all members of the Police Board, a body intended to oversee the Police Service itself. This profound conflict of interest calls into question the independence of the Board and its ability to truly speak for Winnipeggers. According to Choloe Chapple, Executive Director of MARL; "The establishment of an independent civilian oversight body was an important step in improving the accountability of the Police Service and the protection of the public.
Through MARL's participation in the Inner City Safety Coalition and its efforts to find a greater voice for the public on matters of policing in Winnipeg, we became interested in seeing what we could learn from other jurisdictions in Canada. In the summer of 2007, we set out to look at the role of civilians in the governance and oversight of municipal police services across Canada. On June 6, 2008, we released the Executive Summary of the report Civilian Oversight of Police in Canada: Governance, Accountability and Transparency.
… the Charter is meant to protect those expectations on which we rest our belief that our society is one in which we are not exposed to unauthorized clandestine electronic surveillance on the part of the state. I take it to be beyond dispute that just as we hold to the belief that a free and open society is one in which the state is not free to make unauthorized recordings of our conversations, so too it is no less an article of faith in a society that sets a premium on being left alone that its members presume that they are at liberty to go about their daily business without courting the risk that agents of the state will be surreptitiously filming their every movement.
Justice Gérard La Forest, R. v. Wong,  3 S.C.R. 36
Video surveillance in public places has been a hot topic in Winnipeg these days. Touted as a tool for crime prevention and security, Winnipeg City Council recently approved a Surveillance Camera Pilot Project for 20 to 30 cameras in so-called high crime areas of the City.1 Toronto established a similar pilot project at a cost of $2 million for 22 cameras, not including the costs related to monitoring or associated police time.2 Winnipeg City Council has also approved the installation of cameras on each of Winnipeg Transit’s 535 buses at a cost of about $3 million.3 The proliferation of cameras in public places should concern us all.
October 28, 2004
A guaranteed way to increase arrests and convictions for drug possession, gang membership, illegal weapon ownership and other crimes is to give our police free rein over all aspects of our lives. If we as a society decide that eliminating these kinds of crime is more important than our right to privacy, then we cannot complain if the authorities frisk us as we walk down the street, search our homes without notice or cause, or question us about why we're keeping the friends we do. We have rightly not traded away our rights to privacy in this manner--it is simply a price that most of us are not willing to pay in free society.