The Whistleblowers: Challenging Police Culture

Today’s podcast focuses on the remarkable campaigns of two women police officers (one of whom has now left the force) who have told the police departments in Waterloo and Windsor, Ontario, “you need to be accountable to your employees and to the public for your mistakes.”

Kelly Donovan

Kelly Donovan spoke up about what she saw as abuse of power in internal investigations at the Waterloo Police. She became the subject of an investigation herself,  and left the force to found her organization Fit4Duty, which offers independent police investigators and campaigns for police accountability. The Police Board has taken action against her to try to prevent her from speaking up about her experience. Kelly has represented herself at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, the Ontario Superior Court, and the Ontario Court of Appeal (where she won). Waterloo Police Services have to-date spent over $400,000 on legal fees to fight Kelly. Kelly was the recipient of the 2019 Ontario Civil Liberties Association Award.

Kelly has written two books about her experience: Systemic Misfeasance in Ontario Policing and the Coordinated Suppression of Whistleblowers and Police Line: Do Not Cross.

Christine Bissonnette

Christine Bissonnette is bringing a claim for systemic gender discrimination against the Windsor Police Services Board and representing herself at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

Christine says she has been subject to numerous instances of discrimination against her as a female police officer, including access to positions that she is qualified to hold and promotions. Christine first tried mediation to resolve her complaints and finally filed a claim at the Tribunal in 2010. Her case is ongoing.

Kelly’s books:

Systemic Misfeasance in Ontario Policing and the Coordinated Suppression of Whistleblowers

Police Line: Do Not Cross

News stories on Christine’s case:

“Human rights case between Staff Sgt. and Windsor police continues” (CBC)

“Human rights tribunal hears from witness in officer’s complaint against Windsor Police Service” (Windsor Star)

In Other News

Katie Pfaff

Guest Other News Correspondent Katie Pfaff shares the following stories: CBC has recently featured Shannon Salter, chair of BC’s online Civil Resolution Tribunal, who shares that technology is only one part of the solution for ensuring access to justice during COVID-19; UNICEF has published their report on the role of COVID-19’s impact on children’s access to justice; and NSRLP is looking for current or past SRLs across Canada for a public input project with the Social Security Tribunal of Canada – if you are interested in participating email representingyourself@gmail.com.

“‘Human-centred’ approach needed to ensure all Canadians have access to justice: lawyer” (CBC)

“Still Open for Business” (Jumping Off the Ivory Tower)

“The impact of COVID-19 on children’s access to justice” (ReliefWeb)

NSRLP looking for SRLs for public input project

Jumping Off the Ivory Tower is produced and hosted by Julie Macfarlane and Dayna Cornwall; production and editing by Brauntë Petric; Other News produced and hosted by Katie Pfaff; promotion by Moya McAlister and the NSRLP team.

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