The actions of an Ottawa police officer are under review after cops allegedly pulled over a school bus because a boy gave them the middle finger.
Anne Levesque was with her daughters standing at a downtown Ottawa bus stop May 9 when two police officers in a cruiser suddenly pulled over an elementary school bus filled with children.
Levesque, a human rights lawyer, says one officer entered the bus and scolded a boy for gesturing rudely at the police.
She says another officer standing guard outside the bus falsely explained to a concerned parent that the vehicle was stopped for safety reasons because the children were jumping in the bus.
Both Levesque and the boy’s father have filed complaints against the officer who entered the bus.
The province’s Office of the Independent Police Review Director says an investigation into the matter by the Ottawa Police Service’s professional standards department is to be completed within 120 days.
Levesque says the officer who spoke to the boy threatened to detain him and put him in the police cruiser. The police proceeded to follow the bus to the school and reported the boy to the principal, she added.
Levesque, who is also a law professor at the University of Ottawa, said the officers demonstrated an “abuse of power” and a “violation of trust” in interfering and disciplining the boy in front of his peers.
She is calling for a public apology from the officer in front of the entire school.
Gesturing the middle finger at someone is not illegal in Canada. A Quebec judge ruled in a case earlier this year that giving someone the finger was a “God-given” right.
“Flipping the proverbial bird is a God-given, Charter-enshrined right that belongs to every red-blooded Canadian. It may not be civil, it may not be polite, it may not be gentlemanly. Nevertheless, it does not trigger criminal liability,” Justice Dennis Galiatsatos found in March.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2023.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.