October 15, 2010
Alex Hundert’s words will not appear in this story.
Unlike other Canadians, he’s not allowed to speak to the press.
At least that’s how a court interpreted the new bail conditions placed on Hundert, an accused ringleader of violence during the G20 summit in June.
“It’s staggering in its breadth,” said John Norris, Hundert’s lawyer. “I’ve never heard of anything as broad as that.”
Hundert, 30, faces three counts of conspiracy pertaining to G20 activities, and was released in July on $100,000 bail with about 20 terms, including not participating in any public demonstration.
Shortly after his release, the Crown filed an appeal to revoke his bail. Superior Court Justice Todd Ducharme ruled against that appeal.
On Sept. 17, shortly after Ducharme’s decision, Hundert was arrested for participating in a panel discussion at Ryerson University — which police deemed to be a public demonstration.
On Wednesday Hundert agreed to the new, more stringent, bail conditions.
They include a clarification of the no-demonstration rule, to include a restriction on planning, participating in, or attending any public event that expresses views on a political issue.
Justice of the Peace Inderpaul Chandhoke told the court the new conditions also restrict Hundert from speaking to the media.
“I’ve never seen that before,” said Norris, who plans to appeal Hundert’s initial arrest for breach of bail conditions, as well as the newest rules put on his client.
Alan Young, a law professor at Osgoode Hall, says bail conditions are meant to prevent crimes from being committed — and a person’s rights can be infringed upon to a “reasonable” extent to ensure public safety.
But in this case, Young says, the court has gone too far.
“It’s basically putting a gag order on a citizen of Canada, when it’s not clear that the gag order is at all necessary to protect public order,” he said, of Hundert’s restriction from speaking to the media.
“People have to be able to air grievances, and the media is a primary tool in which people can air grievances effectively.”
Young called the strict bail conditions “astonishing” — something unheard of in modern-day Canada.
“It really seems to be a very severe deprivation of rights,” he said. “I’d be very curious to see how a higher court will respond.”
Nathalie Des Rosiers, of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, says they plan to write the Attorney General in Hundert’s defence.
“Speaking to the media does not threaten public safety,” she said. “These bail conditions are only aimed at silencing speech.”