A court decision to stay criminal charges against campus activists Chris Ramsaroop and Oriel Varga is a “significant positive step” towards reaffirming the rights of all citizens to engage in legitimate dissent, says CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan.
“We applaud Mr. Justice Reinhardt’s decision to stay criminal charges against the Fight Fees 2’ and affirm their Charter rights to engage in political dissent. The trumped-up charges were a blatant effort by University officials to create a ‘chill’ on them and others who have the temerity to advocate causes which are at odds with the administration,” said Ryan.
Messrs. Ramsaroop and Varga were criminally charged along with 12 other members of the Fight Fees Coalition following a peaceful demonstration and sit-in on March 20, 2008, at the University of Toronto. The group, originally dubbed the Fight Fees 14, were demonstrating to highlight unreasonably high increases in student fees.
In staying the charges, Mr. Justice Reinhardt noted that Messrs. Ramsaroop and Varga’s Charter rights had been breached due to the unreasonable amount of time between the charges being filed and the case coming to court.
“We were proud to support the Fight Fees Coalition 17 months ago when they exercised their right to protest against high fees that put the dream of higher education out of the reach of most people, and we will continue to proudly support them as they continue their struggle,” said Ryan.
For more information, contact:
Sid Ryan CUPE Ontario President 416-209-0066
Kevin Wilson CUPE Communications 416-821-6641