Police Act public inquiry into transit police assault of black UBC student, judicial salaries and cabinet documents, and UBC appeals a $1.15 million Fisheries Act fine


In 2011 a black, 22-year-old, UBC student went to the upper deck of a SkyTrain station to meet a friend. As he was not planning to ride the SkyTrain, he did not purchase a ticket, despite being in a “fare paid” zone. When he received a message from his friend, advising of a change of plans, he started to walk down the stairs at the SkyTrain station.

Two transit police officers approached the student, and after a five-minute discussion, wrongly concluded he had provided a false name. They told him that he was under arrest and grabbed his wrists. One of the officers attempted to scoop the student’s legs out from under him.

The student began to run away and, at that point, one of the officers tackled and punched him. One officer then drew his baton and struck the student ten times in the head, neck, and back causing a six-inch laceration to the back of his head and lacerations to his hands, arms and back.

The officers falsely claimed that the student was drunk in public and had assaulted them.

One of the officers eventually plead guilty to a criminal charge of assault causing bodily harm.

Following a convoluted and delayed disciplinary process, precipitated by an overly complicated Police Act disciplinary process, the Police Complaints Commissioner ordered a public hearing.

The police officer who had been convicted of assault causing bodily harm successfully challenged the order for a public hearing on the basis that it would be an abuse of process and unreasonable.

The Court of Appeal has now allowed an appeal by the Police Complaints Commissioner to permit the public hearing to proceed, despite the complex and delayed process, because of the significant public interest in having the complaint addressed in full, in a public hearing.

Also, on the show, a Supreme Court of Canada case concerning judicial salaries, and cabinet confidentiality is discussed.

Judges are supposed to be independent of the government. This is important because they frequently decide cases where the government is a party to the dispute. In order to maintain independence from the government, it would be inappropriate for judges to be negotiating with the government over their salary.

You wouldn’t want a judge to be deciding a case concerning the government to be in the middle of salary negotiation with the government.

To avoid this problem, there are independent commissions in each province that recommend changes to Provincial Court Judges’ salaries. In British Columbia, however, there is a long and unfortunate history of the government refusing to implement the recommendations of the independent commission. This has produced much litigation, before different judges, who are federally appointed.

One of these disputes, concerning access to cabinet documents related to the salary dispute, was recently decided by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Finally, on the show, an unsuccessful appeal by the University of British Columbia over a $1.15 million fine pursuant to the Fisheries Act is discussed. The university was convicted after a contractor working for the university allowed some ammonia in the cooling system at the UBC ice rink to escape and get into a storm drain, that got into a ditch, which got into a creek, that fish “frequent”.

Legally Speaking with Michael Mulligan is live on CFAX 1070 eery Thursday at 10:30 am.