Citizens' Panel Created on Heels of G-20 Protests

Article excerpt

Ottawa

Bishop Peter Coffin of the diocese of Ottawa is on a five-member panel hoping to find ways to restore trust between police and citizens and avoid the kind of clashes that marred the G-20 meeting in Ottawa last November.

The Ottawa panel had its costs paid for by a loose group of citizens who had been. involved in the demonstrations and by the panelists themselves. It has no official sponsorship. It includes Jaqueline Pelletier, a consultant and broadcaster; Kenneth Binks, a former judge, journalist and author; and Anne Squire, the first lay woman to be elected a moderator of the United Church of Canada. It is chaired by former Ottawa Mayor Marion Dewar.

The panel was formed after a group of citizens asked the police services board to review police practices, but were turned down. "After that," said a panel organizer, Deb Byrne, "Marion Dewar stepped forward and said `we will conduct our own neutral, objective review.'" Ms. Byrne said the police also declined to participate in the panel's review process.

At a news conference in February, Bishop Coffin said that none of the panelists had been in the demonstration, so no one had a particular bias going into the review. However, he added, "in a healthy democracy, voices of dissent must be able to express themselves in a safe environment. …

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