JAILING PEOPLE FOR SAFE STREETS ACT TICKETS IN TORONTO*
Make sure you file your tickets!
OCAP office 416-9925-6939
*WARNING!! POLICE ARE JAILING PEOPLE FOR SAFE STREETS ACT TICKETS*
Back in 1998 some downtown city councilors tried to get Vancouver's anti-panhandling/squeegeeing bylaw passed a City Hall.
A group of street youth began organizing around this and formed an alliance with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. OCAP
began collecting tickets from street people and contesting them in court, winning almost 100% of the cases. Meanwhile mass
squeegees and marches were organized in defense of street youth under attack. Eventually the by-law was deferred, only to
come back provincially as the Safe Streets Act.
Due to the high volume of tickets being handed out by police to poor and homeless people OCAP became overwhelmed in paperwork
and some downtown community legal clinics began taking the tickets to court. All of this work has been gong on with no funding
or help from Legal Aid Ontario.
OCAP then began a constitutional battle against the Safe Streets Act and while the Act was being contested all tickets were
put on hold pending the verdict. Well the verdict is in, although the judge did find the law to be in disagreement with the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms he felt that it was more of a safety issue and allowed the law to stay on the books. In other
words the safety and rights of poor people are not worth as much as those of the rich.
So what's happening now?
Well all those tickets that were on hold are passing through the courts and people are being found guilty and sentenced to
months in jail or years on probation! All without proper representation because Legal Aid Ontario won't represent people charged
with provincial offenses even though they are facing possible jail time. People are being ticketed because they are poor and
asking for help and when they are unable to pay these poverty fines they are expected to be able to afford a lawyer to keep
them out of jail? This is blatant class discrimination, again proving that this bylaw was passed directed at a certain class
of people, poor people, and that is in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. On top of that this Act is
actually quasi criminal law and the province doesn't have the jurisdiction in these matters, criminal law is a federal matter.
And that were only 2 of our arguments!
So people it is more important than ever to file your tickets unless you want to spend the rest of the winter in a jail cell.
You can drop off your tickets at Youth Link Inner City, Queen West Community Health Centre, SHOUT Clinic, Street Health, the
Corner Drop-In, PARC, the Meeting Place, Parkdale Community Legal Services, and at the OCAP office.
For more information or if you can provide support please call the
OCAP office 416-9925-6939
Borrowed info from: