The Hamilton Police Service respects the right for peaceful protest and demonstration. However, it must be done in a safe, peaceful and lawful manner.

Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

  • freedom of conscience and religion;
  • freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
  • freedom of peaceful assembly; and
  • freedom of peaceful association.

Limitations of These Rights

  • Section 1 of the Charter states:  
    • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
    • However, sections within the Criminal Code of Canada, Provincial Statutes and Municipal By-Laws place limitations on protest activities.
    • Some examples of these are:
      • blocking or obstructing a highway (Section 423(1)(g))
      • causing a disturbance (Section 175)
      • common nuisance (Section 180)
      • breach of the peace or imminent breach (Section 31)
      • riots (Sections 32, 33, 64, 65, 67, 68, 69)
      • unlawful assembly (Section 63)
      • mischief (Section 430)

Further, the Supreme Court of Canada states that “freedom of expression does not extend to protect threats of violence or acts of violence. It would not protect the destruction of property, assaults, or other clearly unlawful conduct.”

The Role of the Hamilton Police Service

The role and responsibility of the police is to preserve the peace, protect property and of course, protect the public; including the persons participating in the protest or demonstration.