Supreme Court of Canada awards Vancouver lawyer Cameron Ward $5,000

The Supreme Court of Canada has awarded $5,000 in damages to Cameron Ward, a lawyer who was strip-searched after being arrested by police in Vancouver.

In 2002, Ward was taken into custody at a public event in Chinatown attended by then-prime minister Jean Chretien.

Police had been investigating a threat that someone was going to throw a pie at Chretien.

After being held for several hours in a provincially managed lockup, Ward was released without charges.

He later launched legal action against the province and the City of Vancouver over the incident.

The Supreme Court said in a decision released today (July 23) that the strip search while in custody violated Ward’s charter rights.

“Strip searches are inherently humiliating and degrading and the Charter breach significantly impacted on [Ward’s] person and rights. The correction officers’ conduct which caused the breach was also serious,” the decision reads.

The Supreme Court also says the seizure of Ward’s car violated his charter rights. But the court did not uphold an earlier award of $100 in damages, noting the seizure did not cause any injury to Ward.

The Vancouver Police Department says it respects the decision of the court.

“We are pleased that today’s decision upheld the findings of the trial court that VPD officers were acting in good faith when they lawfully arrested Cameron Ward for disturbing the peace,” said a news release from the department.

“We are also pleased that even though the court found the temporary impounding of Mr. Ward’s car was a violation of the charter, that he did not suffer any damages and that he should not be awarded any compensation.”

The department also noted that the province no longer manages the lockup where Ward was held.

“We can say that since control of the jail has reverted to the VPD, that we have a clearly defined policy around strip searches,” the department says. “They are now only conducted in the jail when there are reasonable grounds to justify it.”




Jul 23, 2010 at 7:38pm

If everyone who was strip searched for no reason got $5,000 the police and city would be bankrupt. I was arrested in a sweep after one of the street demos a few years before PIVOT was on the scene and those days it was standard ops. It wasn't even something you bothered to mention even as a crowd of officers would gather around to watch as you spread your buttocks and lifted your scrotum. The real annoying thing was when people would go to obtain police complaints forms after an obvious Charter violation and they'd tell everyone they were out of English-language forms and only had them in Vietnamese.

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Burnaby Joe

Jul 26, 2010 at 11:49am

Ward was arrested and sent to jail where he was searched by corrections staff (not VPD) as all arrested parties are. Nice anti-police spin that Ward is attempting to put on this.

glen p robbins

Aug 9, 2010 at 8:19am

Actually - by proving his point - Mr. Ward assured that financial penalties for poor police conduct are very inexpensive to 'solve'.

Alison Beil

Nov 26, 2010 at 11:24am

Financial penalties for poor police conduct are extremely expensive for everyone. Mr. Ward deserves his award, and his human rights award. The Braidwood Commission of inquiry cost all Canadians millions of dollars. It and other investigations by the Police Commissioner, have not restored any confidence in British Columbia's judicial system, nor it's municipal policing. Ian Bush and Robert Dziekanski are dead. Their mothers were completely unnecessarily bereaved. Evidence has been destroyed, and secreted away from the right of those survivors of victims, and the general public's right to information, to know and learn from causes of illness and death. The medical profession is certainly involved in some aspects of this corruption. Tasers and non-medically trained staff, should never be involved in doing arrests in private, nor should strip searches be done at all, in public. To do so to an adult who might be educably mentally handicapped, learning disabled, or simply unable to understand the language spoken by police, or anyone else, is a form of psychological torture and sexual abuse, that has the unnatural effect of harming the virtue of modesty. This practice should be stopped, and there are other ways than even full body imaging scanners to stop it. With less cost to our correctional system, security officers could make suspects wait, up to 24 hours if necessary, until anyone required to appear before a Judge, has to use a toilette! They could be required to use toilettes that can not be flushed. If children, and adults want the privilege of privacy, they must learn responsibility to others. Those people who are so corrupt as to seek to extort anything from someone else, by means of illegal weapons, and dangerous substances are not contributing to the general good. They could all be sentenced to prison terms in which they are required to sanitize the toilets for the rest who do attempt to contribute to the general good. Law and medical professionals, however, should not be exempted from such lawful requirements. They should be required to work in a manner in which if they must be detained 24 hours themselves, they have to provide their clients referral to other trustworthy lawyers and doctors! That way, no one would not be dependent on waiting for computer technology to be developed, function, or repaired, to keep our personal and medical records, in a manner that can be made known to doctors and lawyers and police and even police commissioners who can't be trusted, and were never elected.