The Canadian Press reports that, “Ontario’s ombudsman (Andre Marin) says he has finished investigating what he describes as a secret law that sparked confusion about police powers during the G20 summit in Toronto. …(He) will give a draft report to the provincial government within 10 days.” Then “the G20 report will be made public in its entirety… before the end of the year.”
“Marin’s 90-day probe looked at why the province passed a regulation that many thought gave police powers to arrest people who came within five metres of a security fence at the summit site if they didn’t show identification. Passed by the Ontario cabinet on June 2, the regulation designated the G20 security fence and the area within it a public work, bringing it under the purview of the Public Works Protection Act. As a result, police were empowered to ask those near the security perimeter to identify themselves and state their purpose for being there. It was originally reported that the expanded police powers extended to a five-metre buffer zone outside the security fence, but police Chief Bill Blair later said that wasn’t true. In reality, the new regulation applied only to people trying to enter the perimeter. But neither police nor politicians set the record straight until after the June 26-27 summit was over.”
“His report will look at whether it was necessary for the province to pass such a regulation and how the government communicated with the public. It also will examine how police interpreted the law and reacted to those who were demonstrating.”
THE COUNCIL OF CANADIANS
On the day the law was announced, the Council of Canadians drew a line on the pavement to draw attention to the loss of civil liberties in Toronto due to the G20 summit. Chairperson Maude Barlow put yellow tape on the ground to mark a 5-metre line from the fence and condemned the continued loss of democratic space in this city due to the summit.
We were responding to the CBC report that, “Police forces in charge of security at the G20 summit in Toronto have been granted special powers for the duration of the summit. …The new regulations effectively expand the jurisdiction of the existing Public Works Act to apply to high-security areas of the summit site. Under the new regulations, anyone who comes within five metres of the security area is obliged to give police their name and state the purpose of their visit on request. Anyone who fails to provide identification or explain why they are near the security zone can be searched and arrested. …Anyone who refuses to identify themselves or refuses to provide a reason for their visit can be fined up to $500 and face up to two months in jail. The regulation also says that if someone has a dispute with an officer and it goes to court ‘the police officer’s statement under oath is considered conclusive evidence under the act.’”
The Canadian Press article is at http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2010/10/09/toronto-marin-report.html. The campaign blog on our Friday June 25 media conference/ action against the 5 metre law can be read at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=4082.