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NEWS: Parliamentary hearings on G8 and G20 arrests and spending

The Toronto Star has reported that, On (October 6), the (House of) Commons public safety committee agreed to hold (five days of) hearings (later this month) into what some critics say was Ottawas heavy-handed measures to ensure security for the G8 and G20 summits in June. (As such) several people caught up in the mass arrests during last summers G20 summit in Toronto will soon be coming to Parliament to tell stories of their illegal detention by police tales that one MP predicted will outrage Canadians.

In addition to the security review, the Commons government operations committee is getting set to launch its own examination of Ottawas spending on the two high-profile events, everything from a fake lake at the media centre to new gazebos and sidewalks at sites far from the venues.

The Globe and Mail adds that, Parliamentary reviews are less powerful than a full judicial inquiry, which some including lawyers and civil libertarians are pressing the Ontario Liberal government to call.

There are already several G20-related reviews under way, including one by the Toronto Police Services Board that will be led by former associate chief justice John Morden and a review by the federal Auditor-General. Other reviews under way include a look at complaints by Ontarios independent police review director, two reviews of the Ontario governments decision to amend a law prior to the summit to give police added powers (one headed by former Ontario chief justice Roy McMurtry) and a review by the provinces Special Investigations Unit into five incidents of serious injury in police custody. Several class-action suits are also under way.

THE COUNCIL OF CANADIANS

On June 9, weeks before the summits took place, the Council of Canadians called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to provide all the details of the G8 and G20 summit costs on a line item basis before the summits take place.

On June 25, the Council of Canadians challenged the law, which as reported by the CBC, stated that, 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. We did so by holding an impromptu media conference and marking the 5 metres on the street with bright yellow duct tape.

And on June 28, the day after the G8 summit concluded, the Council of Canadians issued a media release stating, The Council of Canadians participated in the People First march of more than 25,000 people on Saturday, June 26. The organization shares the concerns expressed by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association about the sheer number of arrests – more than 900 – and the jail conditions experienced by those detained. We also join with Amnesty International in calling for a public inquiry into the appropriateness of police actions both prior to and during the summits.

More at http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/871808parliamentary-probes-to-tackle-controversial-summit-spending-and-security, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/parliamentary-committee-to-probe-g8-g20-summits/article1746400/, http://canadians.org/media/other/2010/28-Jun-10-a.html, http://canadians.org/media/other/2010/09-Jun-10.html, and http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=4082.