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A Windsor police officer has requested a judicial review from the Ontario Divisional Court regarding a finding that he had engaged in discreditable conduct for donating $50 to the Freedom Convoy. 

Constable Michael Brisco was placed on unpaid leave as a result of the Windsor Police Service’s vaccine mandate at the time of his donation on Feb. 8, 2022. 

Brisco donated $50 via the online financial service GiveSendGo as an expression of his protest against vaccine mandates and his support for those who were demonstrating in Ottawa at the time. 

His donation was made privately and did not mention his status as a police officer.  

However, a court order allowed for the government to freeze the GiveSendGo account before the money could be received by members of the Freedom Convoy. 

The GiveSendGo website was subsequently hacked and donor information was leaked to the public. 

The Ontario Provincial Police obtained the hacked information and circulated it throughout various policing agencies across the province, despite having prior knowledge that the donor information had been obtained illegally. 

The information leaked did not initially identify Brisco as a police officer but after the information was cross-referenced with a police members’ database, his identity became known to the OPP.

“It was unfortunate that private donor information was unlawfully accessed. It is outrageous that the Ontario Provincial Police obtained this information to assist in persecuting police officers who were exercising their right to free expression,” said lawyer Darren Leung, who is representing Brisco.

According to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, Brisco was called before a Windsor Police Service investigator and forced to answer “questions about the donation pursuant to the Police Services Act.” 

Following his questioning, the Windsor police charged Brisco with discreditable conduct and he was later summoned to a Discipline Hearing. 

Brisco’s charges were predicated on the notion that he knowingly contributed to an illegal protest.

However, the only evidence presented by the Windsor Police Service were newspaper reports which cited “the opinions of the Prime Minister, the Premier of Ontario, and the (then) Ottawa Police Chief.”

The prosecution presented submissions which attempted to link the Ambassador Bridge protest to the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa to imply Brisco was in support of the Windsor bridge blockade. 

However, while sharing a similar goal, the two protests were not connected from any organizational perspective or a financial standpoint.  

Brisco himself stated that his donation was intended for those protesting in Ottawa, not Windsor. 

Despite the prosecution’s claim lacking hard evidence that Brisco was supporting any illegal activity, he was found guilty of discreditable conduct on March 24, 2023, following a six-day hearing before a Hearing Officer. 

“The evidence used to convict Constable Brisco amounted to nothing more than opinions from people who did not like the message,” said Lueng.

He was fined the equivalent of fourteen days’ pay on May 18, 2023. 

The decision was appealed a month later but it was upheld by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission in February 2024. 

Lawyers with the JCCF, who have been assisting Brisco throughout his case, applied for a judicial review. 

This process allows for courts to ensure that the previous decisions made by an administrative body, (in this case the Windsor police) were fair, reasonable and lawful. 

The JCCF believes that Brisco’s private political donation is and was Charter-protected.

“Like other Canadians, police officers enjoy Charter freedoms and can express themselves within reason. Canadians should not be punished for expressing their political views, especially when evidence against them is obtained by unlawful means.” reads a JCCF release

Brisco has been a police officer for 15 years and is currently on active duty.

“We are hopeful that the Divisional Court will see that the entire conviction was unreasonable,” said Lueng.

Windsor Police Service did not respond to a request for comment from True North.