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No Right Without a Remedy? The Potential Role of Class Actions in Police Accountability and Defending Charter Rights


Recent high-profile events have led the public to increasingly question the role and conduct of Canada’s police forces and have drawn attention to the limited impact existing oversight bodies are able to have on reforming police policies and practices. This paper discusses the role that class actions could potentially play in strengthening police accountability and in compensating, denouncing, and deterring violations of Charter rights. The author begins with an exploration of how civil litigation has driven police reform in the United States, and the barriers preventing civilians from seeking similar redress in Canada. He then examines how the innovative use of class actions could potentially overcome these barriers and incentivize governments and police service boards to implement needed changes in policies and governance. The paper concludes by considering the two major police accountability certification motions that have been heard thus far in common law Canada — Thorburn v British Columbia and Good v Toronto Police Services Board — and discusses the implications these decisions may have for the future use of class actions
to strengthen police accountability and defend Charter rights.


Regan S. Christensen


Digital (PDF)

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