Ottawa Police Association, president file lawsuit against police chief, services board

The Ottawa Police Association and its President Matt Skof have filed a lawsuit against police chief Charles Bordeleau and the Ottawa police services board alleging they violated his charter rights. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The Ottawa Police Association and its president have filed a lawsuit against Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau and the city’s Police Services Board.

In a statement of claim filed on Monday, the lawsuit alleges Bordeleau and the board violated OPA president Matt Skof’s charter rights of association when they suspended him from the police service and barred him from accessing Ottawa police buildings.

Skof was suspended when the OPP charged him with obstruction of justice and breach of trust in January, a case that is still before the courts.

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According to the statement, Skof and the OPA are suing for a total of $500,000 in damages: $250,000 from the board for “violation of the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms in order to compensate for their suffering and loss of dignity, vindicate these fundamental freedoms and to deter violations of a similar nature in the future” and $250,000 from Bordeleau for “misfeasance in public office.”

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“This claim alleges that Chief Bordeleau infringed the charter rights of Mr. Skof as well as the association and its membership by attempting to neutralize and undermine Skof as the freely elected representative of a labour organization,” said Skof’s lawyer, Paul Champ.

“In recent years, the Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed that labour rights are protected by freedom of association, as guaranteed by Section 2(d) of the charter. Interfering with a labour organization’s choice of representative violates that freedom.”

Bordeleau and the board were served the statement of claim at the Police Services Board on Monday afternoon.

In a statement an Ottawa police spokesperson said Chief Bordeleau was unable to comment on ongoing court matters.

The board was also named as a defendant in accordance with Section 50(1) of the Police Services Act, which states the board is liable in respect of torts committed by members of the police force in the course of their employment.

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