Sunday, April 20, 2014

GTUC will participate in the Rodney Commission of Inquiry

Guyana Trades Union Congress
Press Statement
April 20, 2014
GTUC will participate in the Rodney Commission of Inquiry
The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) has retained Civil Rights Lawyer Mr. Selwyn A. Pieters, to represent its interest on the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry. The GTUC met the commissioners when they were on their exploratory visit and expressed concerns with the Terms of Reference (ToR). Dr. Walter Rodney remains a national and international figure and in the present circumstance cannot be looked at as the property of a specific family or group, for he belongs to all of us, and consultation as to the way forward in arriving at the truth should have involved everyone. GTUC strongly holds the view that the ToR should have has the input of all the Members of the National Assembly since this was the forum that authorised and approved the decision for an inquiry.
That notwithstanding the GTUC considers the Inquiry an important factor in the nation’s activities, for Dr. Walter Rodney’s death has been used as a wedge in dividing families, friends, associates, political aspirants and communities. The GTUC is conscious of its role as a national organisation and guided by historical developments has taken a decision that it will not stand idly by and allow a national commission of this nature to commence and conclude without Labour making its position known. The GTUC prior to Rodney’s death had addressed issues surrounding him as a worker, historian and citizen, and on his demise called for an inquiry into his death. At this juncture, while there are understandable concerns about the absence of consultation and the ToR upon which the Commission will deliberate, GTUC owes this society a duty to assist in arriving at the truth.
Guyana is advised by history. In 1965 the Burnham administration commissioned the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) to address the accusation of racial imbalance in the disciplined services made by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). The PPP boycotted the commission.  The ICJ said it was also guided in its deliberations by examining the press releases and public statements made by the Party. This assisted in informing its recommendations, which led to changes in recruitment policies such as height, size and other established requirements inherited from the colony authority. The Rodney Commission is on record saying it will be examining documents in the public domain.
Consistent with the foregoing the GTUC cannot afford to have any person or group apply interpretation to any statement made by Labour in the past without having the opportunity to ensure the use of our statements is consistent within the context they were made. Our non-participation would be an abrogation of our responsibility and contribution to this society on the matter and more so denying the country an opportunity in arriving at the truth.
GTUC is mindful of the various claims about how Rodney met his death, but no one has been brought before a judicial authority to answer to and/or justify any of these. In the circumstance there is no statute of limitation barring indictment or inquiry and this can be described as a Cold Case. This is not unusual and happens throughout the world, resulting in constant examination and re-examination and even judicial review. Rodney, as a national and international figure, name continues to be used in various pursuits and deserve closure, however long it takes. Guyana and Guyanese deserve closure to this chapter of our history and an end brought to use of Rodney’s name as a wedge. The GTUC is prepared once again to play its part to the achievement of this end.
Selwyn A. Pieters, B.A. (Toronto), LL.B. (Osgoode), L.E.C. (U.W.I). Lawyer & Notary Public (Ontario). Attorney-at-Law (Republic of Guyana and Republic of Trinidad and Tobago).

Selwyn has appeared at all levels of courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada in Attorney General of Ontario v. Michael J. Fraser, et al., 2011 SCC 20, Ontario Court of Appeal in Freeman-Maloy v. Marsden 267 D.L.R. (4th) 37, 208 O.A.C. 307 (C.A.); Bangoura v. Washington Post (2005) 202 O.A.C. 76, (2005) 17 C.P.C. (6th) 30 (Ont.C.A.), the Federal Court of Appeal in The Honourable Sinclair Stevens v. The Conservative Party of Canada, [2005] F.C.J. No. 1890, 2005 FCA 383. He represented Correctional Manager Mariann Taylor-Baptiste in the ground-breaking competing rights case of Taylor-Baptiste v. Ontario Public Service Employees Union, 2012 CarswellOnt 8965, 2012 HRTO 1393, 2012 C.L.L.C. 230-022 reconsideration denied in 2013 CarswellOnt 1033, 2013 HRTO 180, 2013 C.L.L.C. 230-019 at the HRTO; Civil Rights lawyer Charles Roach in the Oath cases of McAteer, Topey, Dror-Natan v. Canada (Attorney General) 2013 CarswellOnt 13165, 2013 ONSC 5895 (ON S.C.) and Roach et al. v. Canada 2012 CarswellOnt 7799, 2012 ONSC 352 (ON S.C.) which is a constitutional challenge to the oath in the Citizenship Act.

Selwyn has provided representation to persons charged with various criminal offenses including Drugs: Selling and Possessing, Shoplifting, Serious Offences of Violence: Aggravated Assault, Assault with a Weapon and Robbery, Gun Offences, sexual assault, robbery, theft, extortion, HIV/AIDS litigation; fraud, break & enter, attempted murder, murder, regulatory offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, professional disciplinary offences, and conspiracy offences.

Selwyn has also been involved in drugs, guns and gang trials including "Project Green Apple", "Project XXX" and "Project Kryptic", "Project Corral" which are some of Canada's largest Criminal Organization prosecutions. Selwyn is currently counsel for an accused in "Project Feline" and Project Revival" drug sting operations. In Project Corral, Selwyn's advocacy resulted in the "gang expert" evidence being discredited and the Criminal Organization charges against his client and others being tossed out by the Court: R. v. Agil, Chambers, Fullerton, Jimale and Brown 2011 CarswellOnt 18099 (Ont. CJ. July 14, 2011, Khawley J.)

Selwyn recently obtained an extraordinary remedy of costs agains the Crown for failure to provide disclosure of police officer memo book notes in R. v. W.(J.), [2013] O.J. No. 2284, 2013 CarswellOnt 6322, 2013 ONCJ 270 (Ont. CJ.).

Selwyn is the successful litigant in the recent racial profiling case involving carding of three Black men: Peel Law Association v. Pieters, 2013 CarswellOnt 7881, 2013 ONCA 396, 228 A.C.W.S. (3d) 204, 116 O.R. (3d) 81, 306 O.A.C. 314, 9 C.C.E.L. (4th) 233, [2013] O.J. No. 2695.

Selwyn has provided crucial legal advise to clients duringhigh risk situations such as gun calls, hostage taking, barricaded persons, mentally disturbed persons, high risk arrests and public order control in situations where there is significant public disorder, lawlessness, personal injury and property damage. Charges of cause disturbance and assault police can be pretextual racial profiling charges: R. v. Roach, 2005 O.J. No. 5278 (Ont. C.J.) (Criminal Law - Causing a Disturbance); R. v. Ramsaroop, 2009 CarswellOnt 5281, 2009 ONCJ 406 (Ont. CJ.); R. v. Taylor, 2010 CarswellOnt 6584, 2010 ONCJ 396, [2010] O.J. No. 3794 (Ont. CJ.)

Selwyn was co-counsel in the world's first-ever sexual HIV transmission murder trial of Johnson Aziga in Hamilton, Ontario. See, for example, R. v. Aziga, 2008 CanLII 39222 (ON S.C.); R. v. Aziga; 2008 CarswellOnt 4300 (ON S.C.) and R. v. Aziga, 2008 CanLII 29780 (ON S.C.)

Selwyn argued on racial profiling includes: R. v. Steele, 2010 ONSC 233 (ON S.C.) and R. v. Egonu, 2007 CanLII 30475 (ON SC) - Driving while black and R. v. Bramwell-Cole [2010] O.J. No. 5838 (ON S.C.) - walking while black.

Selwyn has acted in exclusion cases at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada: See, Song Dae Ri (Re) 2003 CarswellNat 4527; (2004) 36 Imm. L.R. (3d) 203; Liang (Re) 2002 CarswellNat 4719; 33 Imm. L.R. (3d) 251.

Selwyn has appeared in  Coroners' Inquest including: Coroner's Inquest into the Death of Negus Topey (May 02, 2005, Coroners' Court, Dr. K.A. Acheson) Ruling on Application for Standing; Coroner's Inquest into the Death of Dwight Haughton (Coroners' Court, Dr. Evans) Ruling on Application for Standing; Coroner's Inquest into the Death of Jeffrey Reodica(May 04, 2006, Coroners' Court, Dr. B. Porter) Ruling on Application for Standing

Selwyn also acted as co-counsel with C. Nigel Hughes for the families of three deceased persons killed during a civil demonstration in Linden, Guyana, at the Linden Commission of Inquiry. Selwyn is currently co-counsel with Brian M. Clarke representing the Guyana Trades Union Congress in the Walter Anthony Rodney Commission of Inquiry in Georgetown, Guyana.

For more on Mr. Pieters please refer to

Sunday, April 06, 2014


McAteer et al. v. AGC - This Tuesday (April 08, 2014) the long-standing Charter challenge to the requirement of taking an oath of allegiance to the Queen in order to obtain Canadian citizenship will be argued at the Court of Appeal for Ontario at 10:30 a.m.  in a courtroom at 130 Queen St. W. in Toronto.

The Applicants, Michael McAteer, Simone Topey and Dror Bar-Natan,  questioned the constitutional validity of the Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship prescribed by section 24 of the Citizenship Act R. S.C. 1985, c.C-29 and the regulations made pursuant thereto and are appealing the September 20, 2013  decision of Justice Edward Morgan in the Constitutional challenge of Citizenship Act (Superior Court) McAteer v. Canada (Attorney General) 2013 ONSC 5895 (ON S.C.) . See also, Colin Perkel, Required Oath to Queen for new Canadians constitutional, court rules, CP, September 20, 2013; Colin Perkel, Citizenship oath to the Queen violates free speech, but isn't unconstitutional, Ontario court rules, National Post, September 20, 2013.

The Citizenship Act requires applicants for citizenship to swear or affirm that they will bear true allegiance to Queen Elizabeth the Second and her Heirs and Successors. Many people who feel that the monarchy is an anti-democratic relic of the past conscientiously object to taking such an oath and feel that it should suffice to take an oath to Canada.

Twenty years ago, the late civil rights lawyer Charles Roach launched a Charter challenge to this oath in the Federal Court; he lost. In 2005, Mr. Roach started a similar case in Ontario's Superior Court. The Attorney General of Canada argued that this case should not be heard because of the earlier dismissal by the Federal Court. However, it was ruled that, as a result of changes in Charter jurisprudence in the past twenty years, the case could go ahead.

Mr. Roach died on October 2, 2012.  The case is now proceeding on behalf of three new applicants: Michael McAteer (retired former journalist for the Toronto Star), Simone Topey (of the Black Action Defence Committee) and Dror Bar-Natan (Professor of Mathematics at the University of Toronto).  They are appealing the dismissal of their application by the Superior Court of Justice.

For reasons of conscience and/or religion, the applicants feel that they cannot take the oath. They are arguing that the oath requirement violates their rights to freedom of religion and conscience pursuant to section 2(a) of the Charter, their right to freedom of expression provided by section 2(b) of the Charter, and their equality rights guaranteed by section 15(1) of the Charter. The Attorney General of Canada maintains that "The inability to enjoy the benefits of citizenship - to hold a Canadian passport and to vote - are amongst the costs reasonably borne by individuals whose personal beliefs run counter to Canada's foundational heritage."

Peter Rosenthal, one of the lawyers representing the applicants, said:
 Like the present applicants, Charles Roach really wanted to become a citizen of Canada but his conscience would not allow him to take an oath to a person that symbolized inequality. I hope that that this case will vindicate Mr. Roach's extraordinary efforts to promote equal dignity of all human beings." .”

For more information, contact any of the applicants or Peter Rosenthal :
Michael McAteer, ; Simone Topey,; Dror Bar-Natan, ; Peter Rosenthal,

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The Lawyers for the Applicants are

Peter Rosenthal
Michael Smith
Selwyn Pieters
Reni Chang

Lawyers for  The Attorney General of Canada are

Kristina Dragaitis
Sharon Stewart Guthrie

A copy of the court documents in this case are to be found here


Jeff Gray, The Globe and Mail ‏Would-be Canadian citizens set to fight oath to Queen, Published on Thu Jul 11 2013

Bob Hepburn Politics, Toronto Star, Stephen Harper’s love for Canada’s colonial past Published on Thu Jul 11 2013

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press Would-be citizens set to fight oath to Queen  via @metrotoronto Published on Thu Jul 11 2013

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press Appeal Court set to hear battle over citizenship oath to the Queen Published Sunday, Apr. 06 2014, 5:42 PM EDT

  • Roach v. Canada (Attorney General), 2009 CanLII 7178 (ON SC)
    Superior Court of Justice — Ontario
    class — oath — citizenship — allegiance — proceeding
  • Roach v. Canada2008 ONCA 124 (CanLII)
    Court of Appeal for Ontario — Ontario
    motion — straightforward — handling — officials — constitutional

    Roach v. Canada (Secretary of State)2007 CanLII 17373 (ON SC)
    Superior Court of Justice — Ontario
    swear allegiance — class — abuse of process — forum — constitutional