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Ahmad v. Peel Regional Police Services Board, 2024 ONSC 2474

The CBC (represented by Iain MacKinnon) and CCLA (represented by Iris Fischer and Laura Dougan) intervened in this case where five police officers sought anonymization orders to conceal their identities.  The officers were the Defendants in a civil lawsuit started by the family of Ejaz Choudry. Mr. Choudry, a Muslim man with a history of mental health issues, was shot dead after officers responded to a mental health call at his home.
The decision contains some particularly helpful statements about the use of publication bans and sealing orders to protect the identities of those working in civil service. See paragraphs 135-137 as an example.
[135] In the immediate case, a publication ban would have significant negative effects on freedom of expression and the public’s ability to understand the circumstances surrounding Mr. Choudry’s death and to evaluate the conduct of the John Doe Officers in connection with Mr. Choudry’s death.
[136] The whole of civil society has an interest in scrutinizing the administration of justice in a civil action that involves how that society is being policed in what was a civil matter of a wellness check, which is a civil service that police officers, along with paramedics, and other first responders are called upon to do from time to time.
 [137] Without knowing the names of the John Doe Officers, journalists and the public have no way of knowing whether any of them may have been involved in previous incidents, and whether there may be a systemic problem or an isolated incident. The public will be unable to probe the connection among police training, the police department’s policies and procedures, including disciplinary action, and the relationship with the community and various groups in it to avoid similar unfortunate outcomes for the citizens that the police are sworn to serve and protect.