Victoria Police Department Ordered to Pay Highest-Ever Award for Injury to Dignity in a Political Belief Case in Canada
Victoria, B.C., Canada - Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) speaker and board member Constable David Bratzer won a free speech case against his employer, the Victoria Police Department (VicPD), for discrimination against his political beliefs. The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has ruled the Victoria Police Department discriminated against Officer Bratzer by unlawfully restricting his off-duty activities as a drug policy reform advocate. The decision clarifies the strong protections for political belief offered by the British Columbia Human Rights Code.
Throughout the case, Bratzer has been unable to speak publicly as a representative of LEAP but has remained active through leadership roles. His valuable expertise on drug policy has been noticeably absent from the public discourse in Canada.
“It’s been a difficult road, but I’m happy to finally have my voice back,” said Constable David Bratzer.
- The Tribunal determined that employers have a duty to accommodate the political beliefs of employees (paragraph 323).
- The Tribunal recognized that the protection offered by the Code for political belief includes not only the belief itself but also the manner of expression (paragraphs 274 and 276).
- The Tribunal ruled that employers cannot force their employees to ask for permission in advance of expressing their political beliefs (paragraph 401).
- The Tribunal recognized the right of police officers to participate in political advocacy and in the affairs of a political party (paragraphs 321 and 386).
- VicPD has been ordered to pay $20,000 to Constable Bratzer for injury to dignity, the highest ever award for a political belief case in Canada (paragraphs 437 and 438).
LEAP is a nonprofit group of police, judges, prosecutors, and other criminal justice professionals working to end the War on Drugs. The drug war has created dangerous underground markets and gang violence, fostered corruption and racism, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction.
To access the official case decision documents, please visit http://tinyurl.com/zwdneyo