Investigation into direct violation of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms should follow
Wednesday, Jun 30th, 2010
The Ontario government has declared that it never passed any secret emergency law allowing police to demand ID from protesters on threat of arrest in the vicinity of the G20 meeting in Toronto last weekend.
Last week multiple reports suggested that police had been given unprecedented powers to to arrest anyone near the security zone who refused to identify themselves or agree to a police search.
The Toronto Star reported:
“The regulation was made under Ontario’s Public Works Protection Act and was not debated in the Legislature. According to a provincial spokesperson, the cabinet action came in response to an ‘extraordinary request’ by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who wanted additional policing powers shortly after learning the G20 was coming to Toronto.”
The Globe and Mail reported that there were no limits to police powers during the summit, and no clear legal precedent specifying what they could and could not do.
Throughout the weekend reports flooded in of protesters and even citizens of Toronto who were merely passers by being stopped outside the security perimeter and questioned by police under the amended law.
However, the truth has now emerged that no such amendment to the law was ever made.
“The Ontario government did not pass a secret law that gave police additional power to arrest people during the G20 summit in Toronto,” said Laura Blondeau, a spokeswoman for Community Safety Minister Rick Bartolucci.
Blondeau said that the rules only applied to a limited area within the security perimeter, not up to five meters outside it or beyond, as earlier reports quoting Police Chief Bill Blair had suggested.
Canadian Press reports: “Asked Tuesday if there actually was a five-metre rule given the ministry’s clarification, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair smiled and said, ‘No, but I was trying to keep the criminals out.’”
As the Canadian Press article points out, police did cite the Public Works Protection Act when detaining and searching people outside the security fences. Furthermore, “Neither the province nor police set the record straight. In fact, both made comments about the necessity of such powers” in media interviews all weekend.
Yesterday, the Chief said he was originally under the impression that the five-metre rule applied to an area outside the perimeter but once he was told otherwise, a directive was issued to officers “on the appropriate application of that regulation.”
Asked if failing to clarify the five-metre rule misled the public, he said: “No, I never spoke publicly again about that regulation.”
As The National Post points out:
So he informed the entire city of something that wasn’t true, and, despite the ensuing uproar he kept his mouth shut. And that’s not misleading?
Though Blondeau, the government spokesperson has said that no arrests were made under the phantom law, there is clear evidence showing that this is not true.
As we highlight in our feature article today, British activist Charlie Veitch was arrested last Thursday, outside the security perimeter, for failing to provide identification which, he was told, was a crime under The Public Works Act.
Veitch even received a form documenting his arrest that said he had been detained under the phantom amendment to the law.
Surely realizing that the truth would emerge, authorities re-arrested Veitch yesterday on the charge of “impersonating a police officer” – a weak accusation that stems from deadpan comments Veitch made in his exchange with his original arresting officer when he joked that he was a British police provocateur, in Toronto to instigate trouble so that a harsh crackdown by Canadian security would be justified.
As we also highlighted in a previous article, plain clothes security were witnessed literally screeching up in black vans and abducting protesters outside the security perimeter, while “kettling” those who remained and eventually firing rubber bullets and tear gas at them.
Below is another video of this incident which shows the makeshift movie studio prison in the background. The building is five kilometres away from the security perimeter:
The long and short of this is that the Chief of police in Toronto knowingly misled his officers about a secret law granting them unfettered powers of arrest, which those officers then put into force aggressively, setting a new record for the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.
Despite multiple opportunities to set the record straight, Chief Blair opted to publicly state that such powers were necessary and allowed officers all over the city to detain and arrest people under laws that never existed
Given that this activity is in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and tramples over the right to peacefully protest, there needs to be an immediate investigation into the matter, and Chief Blair should face the consequences that go with such a violation.
This article was posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 10:29 am