Prepared by Anna Willats
Writing a deputation or speech arguing for changes at a political or institutional level around a social justice issue is easy! Just use the following format and the examples provided as a guide for your 5 -minute deputation.
- Understand who you are presenting to and what their role or function is – for example, when you present to the police services board, you can only comment on policy re policing, not operations (how policing is done). They will not discuss specific incidents or deal with complaints. If you are presenting to the Executive Committee or other committee at City Council, you need to know what the agenda item states – are they making a decision, receiving a report, or putting together a recommendation to Council? You want your deputation to be on topic to be considered.
- Your deputation should begin with an introduction of yourself and an explanation about the context you’re speaking from … as a front-line worker, as a survivor, as an academic researcher, etc. – make sure to include this information and explain why you’re qualified to speak to the issue being considered by the committee.
- In the body of the speech/deputation, make sure to outline the issue by using a true story or incident. Include statistics about the reality of the issue. Include the impact this issue has on the entire community the body you’re speaking to is representing (ward 12 residents, the entire city, homeless people, etc). Refer to other work that has been done by others on the issue if possible, so that the body you are presenting to has some history and context for your recommendations.
- In your speech/deputation, make recommendations about what you want the people you are addressing to do about this issue or problem. Make sure that your recommendations are about things that those you are presenting to have authority over. Refer to the support that exists in the community for the recommendations you’re making and how they will improve the current situation. State what you expect the body you’re speaking to, to do about the issue.
- Practice saying/reading your deputation! You will be cut off after 5 minutes so you want to make sure to be finished everything you want to say. In some cases you only get 4 minutes so be prepared to cut a little bit out. Make sure to time yourself ahead of time.
- Be prepared to answer questions. Know your facts about the issue. Take resources with you to refer to. Offer to send them additional info about the issue.
Following is a sample of a deputation that gives you an idea of how to construct an argument in support of recommendations or demands you make on behalf of yourself or others.
DEPUTATION FOR POLICE SERVICES BOARD MEETING February 10, 2005
Dear Chair McConnell and members of the Police Services Board: thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today in response to the Auditor General’s follow-up report to the Investigation of Sexual Assaults by the Toronto Police.
Our names are Roxanne Bolton and Kim McCullough, and we are students in our final year of study in the Assaulted Women’s and Children’s Counsellor/Advocate Program at George Brown College. The AWCCA Program offers woman-and-child centred training for counsellor/advocates working with survivors of violence. The program provides students with a feminist analysis of the political and counselling issues related to violence against women and children. It trains students to be agents for change in their work of community education, political action, and law reform. It prepares students to provide counselling and advocacy for women and children who have experienced or are experiencing violence. George Brown College established the AWCCA program in 1986 and it is unique in Canada.
We and our classmates are women who are currently working, or who will be working, in women’s anti-violence agencies. We are a diverse group of women from many social locations, and many of us are survivors who have dealt with the police and the legal system. We are committed to working for the social, political and economic changes that are needed to guarantee every women’s right to protect herself from all forms of violence.
Women in Toronto deserve and are entitled to the most professional, thorough, and effective sexual assault investigation possible, no matter who our assailants are – be they a stranger, husband, father, brother, partner, doctor, or police officer. In reality however, women experience multiple barriers to attaining justice after a sexual assault, including lack of access to ASL English and other spoken language interpreters, denial of information and control in regard to the police investigation, and sexist, racist, classist and homophobic attitudes and bias on the part of some investigating officers. The audit recommendations begin to address these barriers.
Women working on issues of sexual violence have important information about survivor’s needs and experiences, as well as the expertise required to inform police and other legal system representatives about appropriate, unbiased responses to survivors of sexual assault and abuse. Unfortunately, we have seen reluctance on the part of Toronto Police to make the necessary changes that would guarantee police accountability to the audit, to Jane Doe and all sexual assault survivors, and to the entire community.
For these reasons it is imperative that the women’s anti-violence community have meaningful involvement and leadership in the implementation of the audit recommendations. The Steering Committee structure and process that has been proposed by the Auditor General, Jane Doe, and many others since 2001 is essential to ensure that the lack of action revealed in the follow-up report that is before you is not repeated.
The Police Board must understand that our confidence in the ability of the Toronto Police Service to respond adequately to violence against women has been shaken by high profile events such as the failure to arrest Wyann Ruso’s husband and the subsequent assault against her, the raid and violation of women’s rights that occurred at the women’s event known as “Pussy Palace”, and the failure to act on recommendations from this audit, the Hadley and May/Iles inquests, and others. There is a real need to take immediate, effective action to work with the community to ensure that these and other issues will be addressed and not allowed to reoccur.
We will be watching this process closely. We expect that the creation of the Steering Committee and the implementation of the audit recommendations will be the starting point for much needed change.
Thanks again for your time and attention.
On behalf of the faculty and students of the AWCCA Program, George Brown College
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Deputation
November 20, 2008
To Members of the Toronto Police Services Board:
Deputation by Anna Willats, on behalf of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
Dear Chair Mukherjee, Mayor Miller, Chief Blair and members of the board:
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today on behalf of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition. I am also a professor in the Assaulted Women’s and Children’s Counsellor/Advocate program at George Brown College, and presented to the Board two years ago at about this time when the implementation of a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was first raised.
The Toronto Police Accountability Coalition supports the position that the current TPS Victims and Witnesses Without Legal Status policy should be strengthened, implemented and expanded in the ways recommended in the Immigration Legal Committee, University of Toronto Law School report referred to in the Chair’s report.
It is distressing to hear that the Chief is not persuaded of the importance and justice of this policy. The vast majority of people who live without status in this country are hard-working people who contribute financially and culturally to their communities. They form the backbone of several essential industries and services. People can lose their status or have temporary status for a wide variety of reasons, most having nothing to do with illegal behaviour or intent. Women whose sponsorship or employment as live-in caregivers has broken down because of violence against them are particularly vulnerable to this. This puts women and their children in harm’s way. We strongly echo the concerns expressed by the petitioners about the victimized women and children who are adversely affected by the lack of a full Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.
People without status in this city are vulnerable to being victimized because they are not able to report crimes against them and be confident of remaining in this country. In every meeting that I attend where we talk about the issues that women who are fleeing abuse face, someone reports that they are working with women without status who are unable or afraid to use essential services, including the police. My students who are in placement are learning about the danger non-status women are in first hand. There is no way that anti-violence workers can guarantee that women will be protected from being detained and deported if they report their assault to the police. A “Don’t Ask” policy, no matter how well implemented, does not mean confidentiality for these women will be guaranteed. Partners and employers who abuse threaten to reveal status as a way of keeping women trapped in the home and the relationship. They will tell police this, or others will tell police this during an investigation. If their status becomes known to the police, as it stands they will be reported to immigration authorities. This despite the findings that this reporting may violate their human rights and their life and security of the person will be compromised. Despite the fact that it is not even clear that officers are required by law to report people’s immigration status. They are no less deserving of protection by the police than any other victims.
The Chair’s report does not say what the liability and legal responsibility concerns of the Chief are. There is no legal basis put forward for opposing the adoption of a Don’t Tell component in the policy. The legal opinions that are cited in the Chair’s report seem sound and reassuring regarding the Chief’s legal responsibilities concerns. The Chief seems to be pitting the liability worries of his officers against the safety, security and human rights of people without status. I find this extremely unjustified.
The TPS has said time and again that they must build trust and links with all communities if they hope to gain the public’s trust and support for solving crime. People without status who are victims and witnesses to crimes (particularly women and children who are abused), and who could help the TPS solve them, cannot do that unless they are reassured that their resident status will not be questioned and reported to the authorities. This means that their right to equal protection under the law is not being upheld. When one group’s rights to protection by the police are violated, then all of us are vulnerable. When one group’s trust in the police is undermined, then all are affected.
The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy we are advocating does not prevent the TPS from arresting people whom Immigration and border agency officials alert them to because they have evidence to believe they are dangerous or suspicious. ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policies have been adopted by institutions, police forces, and even states across North America, and there has not been evidence that this has in any way compromised public safety and security. The decision seems on the face of it to be arbitrary and unjustified and contrary to the TPS motto “To Serve and Protect”, as well as undermining commitments the TPS has made to prioritize domestic violence and it’s reputation as a leader in community policing.
For the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition