Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Dataset of Protest Events


I am wondering if anyone in our community may have come across data pertaining to protest events in Canada.

I am helping a student who is interested in the following 
I am wondering is there a database for perhaps the last 5 years (2014-2019) or event further back (2009-2019) that records most if not all protest events that occurred in Canada with over 1000 people.

I have searched Odesi, FRDR, statcan, Google datasets... any other ideas out there?


There are three sources I could find.  If these don’t pan out, then I think that in-depth research of news sources in English and French would be the way to go.

First, the 2019 federal report from Public Safety Canada, Evaluation of the Nation’s Capital Extraordinary Policing Costs Program, gives yearly totals of demonstrations and federal labour disputes – see Table 2 - Events in the Nation’s Capital 2015-16 to 2018-19. Note also, Table 1 - Events covered by NCEPCP.

Here is a glossier version of the same report:

I recommend contacting the Ottawa Police Service for further details on the statistics in this report on these demonstrations / incidents, including table 2 

Various statements indicate that OPS does have more information.

1.        “this program did not use a data management system”

2.        “OPS has internal challenges with respect to data collection as it must be compiled manually, and the proposed IT solution has been delayed due to budget reductions. … “These inconsistencies have led to challenges in analyzing trends in the number and type of events.”

3.        “Currently, OPS submits a total of 4 reports each year (to PS, Public Safety Canada). Bi-annually OPS submits a non-financial activity report and a cashflow statement. … As well, OPS provides a breakdown of events attached as an annex to the non-financial activity report.”

4.         “At this time, the OPS does not provide information to Public Safety regarding incidents that occur during (national capital) events.”

Interesting report in terms of policing involved.

“In 2018, the total number of OPS employees was 1,380 sworn officers to perform policing duties, and 581 civilian members to support their efforts. From this, the OPS staffs a full time demonstration unit, which is deployed as required to address smaller federally-focused demonstrations.

For larger events, such as Canada Day or Remembrance Day, OPS utilizes additional officers beyond the demonstration unit to deploy adequate personnel.

Assignment of personnel for all National Capital events is based on the size and nature of the event, potential escalation to violent action by protestors and counter protestors and risk to the general public.

129 officers performed extraordinary policing duties for Remembrance Day 2016

673 officers performed extraordinary policing duties for Canada Day 2018”

2.  The Incident-based crime statistics, by detailed violations tables cover: Offences against public order (Part II Criminal Code).  This is an aggregate figure, maybe the researcher might want to frame their research question more broadly (this offence includes unlawful assemblies and riots (three or more persons disturbing / provoking disturbing of the peace), treason, fraudulent and forged identity documents, aircraft safety …). 

3. The Canadian Police College Library or the Public Safety Canada Library and Information Centre (PS Library)

- They should have information on protests / policing around high stakes events (particularly “major international events” “Prime Minister-Led Summits of an International Nature”) as well as protests of multiple people or small (one person as in Fleming v. Ontario that went to the Supreme Court*)

- the 2004 book (Ipperwash inquiry) (p. 15) Willem De Lint and Jim Potts, Public order policing in Canada: an analysis of operations in recent high stakes events … examines six public order conflicts in chapter III. RECENT PROTEST EXPERIENCE IN CANADA. 

- Following the large-scale mobilized protests of the 1999 World Trade Organization Summit in Seattle and the 2000 annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington D.C., not to mention the rise in global terrorism in the wake of 9/11, security demands associated with hosting major international events (MIE) have increased substantially.

Strange there seems to be so little official data on protests – lots of policing money involved. I hope these libraries has some sources that might pull the information together. With the 2019 Supreme Court Fleming v. Ontario decision clearly coming down on the side of the protester and his Charter rights versus the possibility of breaching the peace (and therefore the police’s powers of arrest), hopefully more data will be coming.  Various studies indicate a need for better prediction, planning training and decision-making around protests (actual or potential), e.g., Policing the right to protest: G20 systematic review report