January 13, 2011

I decided to start my own page because of the way I have been treated by the Amherstburg Police Service, Amherstburg, Ontario.

In the mid 1990s, two members of the Amherstburg Police Service conducted a surreptitious investigation into an alleged comment I made at a Girl Guide event: then Chief W. Fryer and Bart DiPasquale. Why? According to an Information and Privacy Commissioner Ontario Investigation Report, “the police point out that if it is determined that the source or basis of the comments was the complainant’s spouse, who is a member of the Police Service, he may be subject to discipline under the Police Services Act.” It continues, “As far as the Police’s reference to the complainant’s spouse is concerned, nothing has been provided by the Police to suggest that the complainant’s spouse was in any way connected to the comments. In addition, based on information provided by the Police in this matter, I am not persuaded that the general nature of the comments themselves could reasonably be expected to lead to disciplinary proceedings under the PSA in any event.”

The IPC did not accept the position put forward by the Police and concluded that the collection of my personal information was not “used for the purposes of law enforcement” and the use and disclosure was not in compliance with the Act. Recommendations were made that the Police take steps to ensure that all staff are aware that personal information may be collected only if the collection is in compliance with section 28 and 29 of the Act. In addition, within six months of receiving this report, the Police should provide the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner with proof of compliance with the above recommendation.

Tim Berthiaume, currently the Chief of Police, testified during my husband's human rights tribunal hearing that in January 2005, he had a telephone conversation with Great West Life (GWL), the Amherstburg Police Services’ insurer, to discuss my husband’s disability claim. False information was provided about me to Great West Life.

Again, in June 2009, the Amherstburg Police Service had a telephone conversation with GWL to discuss my husband’s disability claim and again provided false information. During this telephone conversation, the police relayed that “both him and his wife are activists and are always on about something, they have a website, etc.”

I found out about the two telephone conversations in September 2009 and filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal Ontario alleging discrimination because of marital status, disability and association with a person identified by a prohibited ground in the provision of goods, services and facilities. At the time of the 2005 call, I was representing my husband for a human rights complaint that the Amherstburg Police failed to accommodate him as a person with a disability.

The Human Rights Tribunal Ontario issued an Interim Decision on May 28, 2010. As you will note, the Respondents requested early dismissal on the basis that the subject-matter of the Application is the same or substantially the same as the subject-matter of a complaint that was previously filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (“Commission”). I submitted that my Application is not substantially the same as my husband's complaint and that the respondents’ request to dismiss is an example of the marital status discrimination that I have experienced. The Tribunal was satisfied that "the subject-matter of this Application is not substantially the same as the subject-matter of her spouse’s human rights complaint. As such, s.53(8) is not applicable and the Request to dismiss the Application is denied."

A summary hearing via telephone was held on Monday, January 10, 2011 and a decision was issued on January 11: read it here. With reference to Tim Berthiaume's telephone call with GWL, the Respondents stated they were not involved in the exchange. However, it is noted in the May 28, 2010 Interim Decision, "The respondents allege that the applicant’s current allegations pertain to inquiries made by the respondents in relation to her spouse’s disability claim." In addition, Berthiaume testified during my husband's human rights complaint hearing that he spoke with Great West Life. The Respondents argue that, in providing information to GWL, they were acting in the capacity of employer, which they argue is distinct from the police's law enforcement functions. The Respondents further argued that I was seeking to raise privacy issues and defamation allegations before the Tribunal - should that alone be cause for concern? My application is dismissed.

I requested a reconsideration of the matter, which was denied also. The decision can be read here.

I appeared before the Amherstburg Police Service Board, which is taking no further action. John Sutton, Chair Amherstburg Police Services Board provided this written decision on July 19, 2011.

The above are just some of the reasons why I would rather have the OPP provide policing services to the Town of Amherstburg.

I would prefer the OPP provide police services to the Town of Amherstburg for other reasons. In February 2009, I was the victim of criminal harassment. No one from the Amherstburg Police Service ever interviewed me or collected any evidence from me. The Amherstburg Police delayed in responding to my requests for updates. In a March 18, 2008 email from former Chief Hollingworth, he advised he would bring me up to date the following week; he did not. Almost two months later, on May 22, 2008, I emailed Hollingworth to obtain an update; he replied that a charge was laid on May 6, 2008; however, the Amherstburg Police laid the incorrect charge. In April 2009, an Amherstburg Police Constable left a voice message on my telephone for my husband that he spoke with the Crown and the case would probably be withdrawn. I called and met with the Crown Attorney on May 1, 2009; he advised there was little evidence to proceed and the Amherstburg Police position was that my concerns were not to be taken seriously. I presented evidence the police neglected to collect from me, and advised him that since December 2008, the Amherstburg Police were investigating my husband and therefore, it was a conflict of interest for them to have any involvement with the case. The Crown assigned the investigation to the OPP; the proper charge was laid by the OPP and an undertaking was agreed to by the offender.

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© 2011 Linda Saxon