'Disorderly People" ARTICLE

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22 Apr 2012
Disorderly People Mosher and Hermer
2001 news showed 13 people, most of them “squeegee workers”, had been convicted in
Toronto under the Ontario Safe Streets Act
Lawyers defend it is unconstitutional providing police w/ powers of how 19th c vagrancy laws
were used to punish/imprison people
The Safe Streets Act is an aggressive example of anti-home-less and panhandling legislation
Many provinces in Canada have passed anti-begging and anti-loitering legislation in the form of
municipal by laws
o Poverty and civil rights activists criticized them for being unconstitutional, in particular
that is discriminates the poor and infringe National Anti-Poverty Organization
o After a 5 year court battle w/ the National Anti-Poverty Organization, the City of
Winnipeg agreed to repeal (cancel) its by law that banned begging in particular city
o The City confirmed that begging itself posed no harm to people and recognized the full
entitlement of the poor to use public space.
o The city of Vancouver passed an anti-begging by law two years ago as part of a
widespread civil improvement campaign to which the BC Public Interest Advocacy
Center maintained that the by-law is an unjustified infringement of freedom of expression
Safe Streets Act came into effect year 2000, this was the first time a modern provincial
government has enacted a provincial statue (as opposed to a local municipal by law) against
begging conduct in public space.
Unlike most municipal by laws which tend to prohibit alms giving in the most general wy, the
Safe Streets Act is both extraordinarily detailed and at the same time vague and sweeping
The two main anti-begging sections of the act prohibit soliciting in an “aggressive manner” and
soliciting a “captive audience”
Under the “solicitation of captive audience prohibited” provides that:
o No person shall..
o Solicit a person using, waiting, or departing from an automated teller machine
o Solicit a person using, waiting, to use a pay telephone or public toilet faculty
o Solicit a person using, waiting, at a taxi stand or a public transit stop
o Solicit a person using, waiting, on a public transit vehicle
o Solicit a person using, waiting, a vehicle or who is in a parking lot
o Solicit while on roadway, or Solicit a person who is in or on a stopped, standing or
parking vehicle
Solicit defined in act = “ to request, in person, the immediate provision of money or another thing
of value, regardless of whether consideration is offered or provided in return, using the spoken,
written or printed word, a gesture or other means”
o This definition leaves open the question of whether a visibly indigent person would be
considered to be soliciting simply by being present
o i.e. homeless ppl have no choice but to hang around in public spaces where they can
potentially survive and carry out subsistence activities
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