My friend David Bratzer has closed the page in a long journey against the Victoria Police Department for exercising his right to discuss his political beliefs in his personal life, in public. I met him over 5 years ago, where he spoke at IdeaWave 2010 on The Key to Criminal Justice Reform: Ending Drug Prohibition. This was a controversial talk, as at the time I was told the Victoria Police previously had a conference deny him from speaking out on this issue. I welcomed the challenge, and would not be silenced by an organization, even a police department, by allowing someone the right to free speech on their own time. I feel we have a shortage of people in society willing to risk their careers and livelihood for their principals, especially the altruistic. I feel as a society, we all have an obligation to support these risk takers if we don’t have the courage to do so ourself.
Five years later, and David just posed this on his Facebook wall:
Today the BC Human Rights Tribunal issued its decision in my case: Bratzer v. Victoria Police Department (No. 3).
It’s been a long road, but worth it. The decision is a significant victory for employee rights in British Columbia. Here is a brief summary of key points:
• 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).
• The Tribunal found the actions of Chief Jamie Graham (retired) were motivated by his antipathy toward “left wingers” (paragraphs 122, 123, 218, 220, 223, 224, 349, 320, 350, 351, 394 and 424).
• VicPD has been ordered to pay $20,000 for injury to dignity, the highest ever award for a political belief case in Canada (paragraphs 437 and 438).
Thank you to my family, colleagues and friends for all their support!
I would like to take the time to thank David for being a personal hero of mine — risking his livelihood for the greater good of society with a young family is courageous. You’ve always demonstrated a level of integrity I’ve admired (not to mention the countless hours you’ve spent door knocking, flyer handing, building a student award program, and running as a school board trustee — your support for students and youth may be unrecognized by most, but it is not by me).
David: You’re the definition of community super hero, to me.