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NEWS: Council speaks against bail conditions placed on Alex Hundert

The Toronto Star reports that Alex Hundert was arrested yesterday (Saturday October 23) and is due to appear in court on Monday morning.

“(Hundert) was first arrested June 25 in the aftermath of widespread (G20) protests. Police accused him of being a ‘ringleader’ responsible for planning violent and destructive demonstrations. …Hundert faces three counts of conspiracy pertaining to G20 activities surrounding the June summit (in Toronto), and was released in July on $100,000 bail with about 20 terms, including not participating in any public demonstration.”

“He was arrested again Sept. 17 for participating in a panel discussion at Ryerson University which police deemed to be a public demonstration and held in jail for more than a month before being released Oct. 13 with even more stringent bail conditions. (Those conditions)include restrictions on planning, participating in, or attending any public event that expresses views on a political issue. In addition, Hundert has been banned from speaking to the media.”

Of the conditions placed on Hundert for his October 13 release, his lawyer John Norris has stated, “Its staggering in its breadth. Ive never heard of anything as broad as that.

COURT HAS GONE TOO FAR, SAYS LAW PROFESSOR
“Alan Young, a law professor at Osgoode Hall, says bail conditions are meant to prevent crimes from being committed and a persons rights can be infringed upon to a ‘reasonable’ extent to ensure public safety. But in this case, Young says, the court has gone too far. ‘Its basically putting a gag order on a citizen of Canada, when its not clear that the gag order is at all necessary to protect public order,’ he said, of Hunderts restriction from speaking to the media. ‘People have to be able to air grievances, and the media is a primary tool in which people can air grievances effectively.’ Young called the strict bail conditions ‘astonishing’ something unheard of in modern-day Canada.’It really seems to be a very severe deprivation of rights,’ he said. ‘Id be very curious to see how a higher court will respond.’

CANADIAN CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION CONCERNED
“Nathalie Des Rosiers, of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, says they plan to write the Attorney General in Hundert’s defence. ‘Speaking to the media does not threaten public safety.’ she said. ‘These bail conditions are only aimed at silencing speech.’

TORONTO STAR
On October 17, the Toronto Star editorial board wrote, “(Hundert’s) latest bail conditions…go too far. …Sadly, this fits a pattern of official excess that marred the summit. Excessive costs, security, arrests and charges. Now this. Bail terms that require Hundert to keep the peace are one thing. Using the threat of jail to muzzle political dissidents is quite another. It isn’t the Canadian way. He should be free to speak his mind.”

CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF JOURNALISTS
On October 18, a media release was issued stating, “The Canadian Association of Journalists is adding its voice to the chorus of those saying an Ontario Justice of the Peace’s bail conditions go too far. ‘Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including the freedom of the press, are fundamental constitutional rights,’ CAJ president Mary Agnes Welch said. ‘While having some rights restricted while on bail is a reasonable expectation, for the court to strip Mr. Hundert of these particular rights while on bail sets a dangerous precedent that should concern all Canadians.’ The CAJ is concerned these bail conditions could be requested by the Crown in other cases and end up being copied by other Justices of the Peace, leading to a pattern where one of our most important freedoms as set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is eroded, one judgment at a time.”

THE COUNCIL OF CANADIANS
We agree that the bail conditions placed on Alex Hundert are excessive and unwarranted. We share the same concerns expressed by John Norris, the Toronto Star editorial board, the Canadian Association of Journalists, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. We will be taking several steps to speak out against this crackdown on basic civil liberties, but a first step will be to donate $1,000 to Mr. Hundert’s legal defence fund. If you would also like to donate to that fund, please go to http://peaceculture.org/drupal/node/660.