Saturday, December 31, 2016


December 31st, 2016, Hamilton, ON – I am saddened to learn of the passing of former Hamilton Police Chief Colin Millar at the age of 83.

Colin's commitment and dedication to serving the City of Hamilton ‎is evident with his decorated career and commitment to community service. But more importantly, he was gracious, kind and funny.

On behalf of the City of Hamilton, our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues. We are sorry for your loss.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Saturday, December 17, 2016

With Selwyn Pieters: On Clr. Green's Allegation of Carding

1     As our readers are aware, Clr. Matthew Green is pursuing an allegation of carding relative to being stopped and questioned by the Hamilton Police Service. Clr. Green has retained a well known and respected lawyer in the Toronto Human Rights community, Selwyn Pieters. We have confirmed with the city of Hamilton that to date,  Clr. Green has made no requests for assistance with legal fees related to retaining Mr. Pieters. Arguably, the Clr. could have made a case that his moving forward is in the public interest and possibly joined the expenses related to this  matter accordingly to his role as city councillor. To date, to our knowledge and as verified by the City Manager, no request for financial assistance has been made. It appears as though the Clr. is handling the fees autonomously or otherwise. 

The Hamiltonian hopes that the outcome of this case is one that serves society well and makes no assumptions regarding the allegations.

The following is our chat with Selwyn Pieters:

Can you describe where this matter is in the process.

Constable Andrew Pfeifer faces one count of discreditable conduct under section 2 (i)(a)(xi) of the Code of Conduct, as set out in O. Reg. 268/10 of the Police Services Act. This matter has been brought to hearing following an investigation conducted by Independent Police Review Director (the "OIPRD").

A hearing officer Deputy Chief Terence Kelly, York Regional Police (Retired), will preside.

Brian Duxbury and T. David Marshall are the Prosecutors appointed by the Chief of Police.

Bernard Cummins and Ben Jeffries will be representing the Police Constable

I am representing Councillor Matthew Green.

The first appearance was on December 15, 2016. A hearing by telephone conference is scheduled for January 31, 2016 to permit counsel for the complainant and police officer to review disclosure and be in a position to set a date for trial.

Have the facts been established or is part of your role to draw out the facts?

There were facts established during the investigation that brought the matter to a hearing. However, any facts that are acceptable by the hearing officer can be established by the parties agreeing as to the facts or alternatively a full blown hearing in which examination in chief, cross-examinations and re-examinations take place. At this point no facts have been established for the purpose of the hearing as we only made a first appearance.

What would an appropriate outcome look like. In other words, what result is being sought by going through the hearing process?

The prosecutor would be seeking to establish misconduct on the part of the officer.

Mr. Green is a complainant and a witness in the proceeding with standing he is there to ensure that his version of the evidence is found to be credible. As well, on a broader level since this is an officer misconduct complaint that raises racial profiling as an issue, Mr. Green has an interest in ensuring the Hearing Officer adjudicate this case in a manner that recognizes its subtle, pervasive and unconscious nature of racism and that his decision is consistent with human rights principles set out in numerous Court of Appeal decisions.

In your estimation, how clear is this case? Is this unquestionably a case of police carding based on race? What challenges, if any, do you anticipate?

This is a case based on the circumstantial evidence.

We will make the case that this was an unjustified and arbitrary street check and that it based in part on the race of Matthew Green.

Is there anything else you would like Hamiltonians to know about this matter or the issue of carding in general?

Racial profiling is a serious issue of great concern to the public particularly racialized residents of Ontario, including residents of Hamilton. Regulations come into force in January 2017 that prohibits such action. Hamilton Police Service enacted a policy in December 15, 2016. Statistics shows Blacks are four times as likely to be arbitrarily stop by police in Hamilton.

In a case where racial profiling is alleged:

a. There is no need to prove intention or motivation to racially profile;

b. Racial profiling can rarely be proved by direct evidence;

c. Racial profiling will usually be the product of subtle, unconscious beliefs, biases and prejudices;

d. Race need only be a factor in the adverse treatment to constitute racial discrimination;

e. Racial profiling is a systemic practice;

f. Racial profiling is not limited to initial stops;

g. African Canadians may, because of their background and experience, feel especially unable to disregard police directions, and feel that assertion of their right to walk away will itself be taken as being evasive;

h. A person may experience racial profiling based on several overlapping and intersecting aspects of their identity; and

i. The use of abusive language by an individual who has experienced racial profiling at the hands of police cannot justify further differential treatment

See, Peart v. Peel Regional Police Services, 2006 CanLII 37566 (ON CA), <http://canlii.ca/t/1pz1n>; Phipps v. Toronto Police Services Board, 2009 HRTO 1604 (CanLII), <http://canlii.ca/t/2608k>; Nassiah v. Peel (Regional Municipality) Services Board, 2007 HRTO 14 (CanLII), <http://canlii.ca/t/1rgcm> and Peel Law Association v. Pieters, 2013 ONCA 396 (CanLII), <http://canlii.ca/t/fz590>

6. Other issues

It appears that a larger room and venue would be necessary for this hearing. It is a public hearing and I am concerned with the comments reported in the Hamilton Spectator and CBC that HPS Union Boss Client Twolan called the case a "circus" and claimed that Councillor Green is making a spectacle “to further his own political agenda.”

I have already written to all concerned stating “I would suggest a venue that is not a police building. Comments like this can poison the atmosphere.”

Obviously, I will have to obtain instructions from the client on motions to be brought including for additional disclosure, change of venue etc.

Thanks Mr. Pieters for sharing your perspective in The Hamiltonian. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Is HSR LRT's Achilles Heel?

Recently, our friends at The Hamilton Spectator published a piece on the challenges facing HSR on the ridership front. See it by clicking here. 

With uptake in public transit and ridership as key components of a successful LRT deployment, the trends described in the Spec article are worrisome, to say the least- possibly prompting some to wonder whether HSR  and its ridership will end up being LRT's Achilles Heel. 

The following is our Q/A with Debbie Dalle Vedove, Director of Transit:

1. In a Hamilton Spectator front page story,  the decline in HSR ridership and the challenges associated with growing ridership where described. What is your understanding of the relationship between ridership and the business case for Light Rail Transit? To the extent that there is a linkage between LRT’s success and HSR’s performance, what efforts are being made between these two transit strategies/offerings?

2. Is there a “tipping point” understanding in place that would signal at what point HSR ridership stats will either bolster the potential success of LRT, have no effect, hinder its success or undermine it. Can you speak to us about that analysis and what those numbers or thinking looks like?

3. Is there anything else you would like Hamiltonians to know about the status of HSR and plans going forward?

We received the following response from Ms. Dalle Vedove:

HSR has been working very closely with the LRT team to ensure seamless integration. The City is implementing both the 10-year Local Transit Strategy and LRT project simultaneously over the next 8 years to build and improve Hamilton’s overall transit network. We are working on growing ridership on the system as a whole. As we provide more transit options the ridership will grow.

With respect to LRT we are confident in our ridership projections. Metrolinx has a planning capacity of 130 passengers per vehicle during the peak hour in the peak direction at any given point along the route. With a six-minute headway (10 vehicles per hour) this means that the capacity for on-board passengers will be about 1,300 passenger in the peak hour. In the 2031 forecasts, for the weekday AM westbound peak direction, this level will be exceeded from Scott Park through to Mary Street, with the maximum being about 1,500. This means that by 2031 it will be necessary to either relax this standard (standard planning capacity is about 1,600) or add service.

In the 2041 forecasts, the maximum passengers on board exceeds the Metrolinx planning capacity from Queenston Circle to James Street, with the maximum at 2,350 passengers. Under these conditions, the B-Line will be well over the Metrolinx Planning Capacity and Standard Planning Capacity for a single Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) and coupled LRVs will need to be operated.

In addition, Council has approved an application to the province for approximately $36.5 M in Federal ‎Public Transit Infrastructure Funding. This provides a needed funding source to support the Ten Year Local Transit Strategy. ‎In addition to the design stages for a new maintenance and storage facility and new buses, the funding application includes a set of projects such as improved customer service technology and infrastructure that is intended to improve the customer experience. To this end, we have recruited and hired a social media coordinator and will be launching @hsr on Twitter before year end.

Your thoughts. Do you have confidence that the city has this under control, or are you concerned?