The police are backtracking again -- two separate yet connected incidents.
On July 28, 2010, I reported for www.rabble.ca that police finally admitted to firing rubber bullets into a crowd of demonstrators on Sunday June 27, 2010, during the G20 protests. They were denying the accusation from activists present at the jail solidarity rally that Sunday at the Eastern Avenue Detention Centre. At first, the police would only go on record to state they had fired rubber bullets at demonstrators trapped in Queen's Park.
The correction in statement came after Natalie Gray of British Columbia went public alleging she was struck by rubber bullets on that Sunday in question; armed with photographic evidence of the wounds she claims were the result of being struck by rubber bullets twice to her body -- once just above the elbow and once to the centre of her chest.
So, with that lie corrected, let's move on to more secret police business regarding secretly passed laws containing fake rules.
Here's a question for you:
Can a non-existent rule trigger real criminal charges?
Before your mind sets off an existential avalanche, let me explain.
Stemming from the police's non-existent G20 five metre fence rule -- you know, part of those super secret powers the Ontario government supposedly gave to the Toronto Police that never really existed but caused a lot of post-G20 finger pointing and the evoking of the War Measures Act -- the only activist charged under the make believe five metre rule has had his charge magically disappear.
Still confused? OK, let me try to simplify things by providing some context.
In the aftermath of the G20 Summit, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair needed a police escort to enter and leave his own Pride event on June 30, 2010, as Queer activists shouted "shame" and called for his resignation.
You see, earlier that day, Blair admitted that there was never a five metre rule allowing police to search and demand identification from anyone who strayed within five metres of the G20 security perimeter.
The five metre rule that never existed was a part of a larger expansion of police powers passed in secret by the McGuinty government. Secret because a City Hall source for the Toronto Star noted that even Toronto Mayor, David Miller, was "blindsided" by the newspaper's front page article about the new police powers requested by Toronto Police Chief, Bill Blair.
The Toronto Star ran an article about the arrest of activist, Dave Vasey, who was charged under the June 2, 2010, amendment to Ontario's Public Works Protection Act. He was held for hours inside the Eastern Avenue Detention Centre.
Vasey, when stopped by police at the security parameter on June 24, 2010, did not know of any amendment to any law or about any supposed new police powers and therefore still believed he was in the right when he refused to identify himself to police. I should note here that I myself was present many times to hear officers threaten activists with arrest if they did not give their names even though we were miles away from the security parameter.
When word of the new police powers did get out, the police led the public to believe that if a person refused to identify themself to the police, they could be arrested and could face a penalty of up to two months in jail or a $500 fine upon conviction.
Police Chief, Bill Blair, also requested from the McGuinty government that security guards appointed under Ontario's Public Works Protection Act be temporarily given the power of arrest within five metres of the security zone during the G20 Summit.
Ontario NDP justice critic, Peter Kormos, said: "This law was not only passed in secret, it was kept secret...This is the stuff Kafka wrote novels about. Secret laws that the citizenry is not aware of are the hallmarks of tin pot dictatorships."
So to add insult to injury, not only was the amendment to the Ontario law passed in secret, but the police then took advantage of the lack of public knowledge to make up their own rules -- giving themselves extra police powers.
Blair countered any accusations of secrecy by stating that notification was published on e-laws on June 16, 2010 without announcement. The law was approved by the Ontario government on June 2, 2010, through an order-in-council with no debate in the Legislature. The public is still waiting -- thus the need for a publicly controlled and transparent inquiry into G20 policing -- for real answers from Blair regarding how the police made up their own rules and lied to the public about them.
So regarding a rule that never existed, any charges stemming from breaking said rule cannot exist.
So when Dave Vasey -- the only individual charged under the rule that never existed -- appeared in court on Wednesday July 28, 2010, as his summons dictated, he found the charge had mysteriously disappeared. His name was nowhere to be found on the docket. The court also had no information about his case. There was no written or computer file. Nothing.
But according to Vasey's lawyer, Howard Morton, the government still has five months to recharge Vasey if it so chooses.
Morton said he has no idea why Vasey's charge seems to have suddenly evaporated.
"There are only two possibilities. The first is there never was a charge," he said. "The only other possibility I can think of is that the government simply didn't want any further embarrassment over this regulation that was passed in secret and simply decided not to pursue it. If that's the case, then they were just hoping the issue would go away," Morton said.
In an email to the Toronto Star, a spokesperson for the Attorney General said Vasey's charge appears to have never been filed with the courts and directed further questions to the police. Toronto police spokesperson, Meaghan Gray, believes an administrative error may be to blame for the vanished charge.
"It is obvious that under Harper's watch, the police can get away with almost anything -- they create fake laws, file fake charges, and then the charges disappear," said Vasey.
"When people are arrested for walking on the street, for blowing bubbles, for going into their own offices, it is as if the Police had completely lost any good sense," Vasey added, "it is time for the police to drop all charges related to G20, and for Harper, McGuinty, Blair and Fantino to come clean with what actually happened in that one week in June in Toronto."
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