The Ontario government vs. The Toronto Police

Ding Ding!

This is a real he said / he said battle between McGuinty’s Ontario government and Chief Bill Blair’s Toronto police, regarding the G20 secret law/act that never was.

Both are pointing pistol-fingers at each other over how each group handled the regulatory change under the Public Works Protection Act — the Five Metre Magic Trick — passed and implemented  for the G20 in a confusion more suited to the fog of war.

Some clarity was provided last week by Andre Marin of the Ontario Ombudsman’s Office in a report titled: Caught in the Act.

The report examined the use of police powers granted by the province’s enactment of Regulation 233/10 under the Public Works Protection Act.

Marin statement: “It is important when considering this information to understand that while there may have been only two arrests using Regulation 233/10, many people were detained, searched, questioned, and redirected under its authority.  That regulation played a huge role in the violations of civil liberties that occurred.  Arrests were only a small part of it.”

What happened on the streets during the G20 Summit: G20 activists were led to believe that the secret G20 law — Regulation 233/10 of the Public Works Protection Act — meant that police had the right to detain/arrest anyone who refused to identify themselves or refused a search of their person/property within five metres of the G20 security parameter. There are many (too numerous to count) statements from activists present that weekend that police extended the five metre rule to encapsulate areas well outside the G20 security parameter and its five metre extension zone.

Now the public finds out that not only was the G20 secret law passed by the McGuinty government without public notification but the police took advantage of the secrecy of the secret law and used the misinformation (lie) to police the streets of Toronto at their own will and command.

Andre Marin found two major conclusions:

1: G20 regulation of “dubious legality”

The controversial measure – Regulation 233/10 under the 71 year old Public Works Protection Act (PWPA) – “was of dubious legality and no utility” and resulted in a mass violation of civil rights. The Toronto Police Service, which had requested the regulation because it was responsible for policing the areas around the security fence in downtown Toronto, compounded matters through its miscommunication about the reach of the regulation’s extraordinary powers, Marin said.  

In Ontario Legislature debate Thursday on this issue: “Your government conspired to keep the facts of the war measures in secret,” said Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak. “And then, when the ministry itself wanted to do a press release to explain this to the public, somebody — either you or your minister – gave the order to kill the press release.”

In the Ontario Ombudsman report, Marin uncovered emails between then-Community Safety Minister Rick Bartolucci’s office and senior bureaucrats that suggest plans were in place to conceal a regulatory change under the Public Works Protection Act (PWPA).

2: Citizens unfairly trapped by secret expansion of police powers

The Ombudsman found the Ministry, which had decided not to publicize the new legal measure, was “caught short” when Toronto Police misapprehended the regulation’s reach and used the authority of the PWPA to arrest or detain people who were simply in the vicinity of the security fence. 

Throughout the weekend of the G20 summit, police exercised their powers under the Act well beyond the limits of the security perimeter, even after the misinterpretation had been corrected. Toronto Police Chief Blair has been under fire for his force’s conduct during the G20 and the arrest and subsequent beating of activist Adam Nobody (the officers directly involved in Nobody’s beating have yet to identified and will not be unless they are criminally charged). Andre Marin stated that the Toronto Police Chief — and thus the Toronto Police Services — did not cooperate with the Ombudsman’s investigation.

Chief Bill Blair later commented that he misunderstood the G20 secret law — Regulation 233/10.

While in Victoria BC on Wednesday, Chief Blair stated that he honestly believed, based on the legal advice he received at the time, that the law included the area five metres outside the fence. He said that as soon as he found out the truth, he immediately notified his officera but regretted not informing the public of the change.

The tally for far: The Ontario government passed the G20 law without notifying the public. The police implemented this secret law on the streets of Toronto during the G20 Summit protests and did not inform the public when it was revealed to them that the premise of G20 law turned out to be false. Both sides are blaming each other for this mess. Andre Marin has found both parties are the blame.

In a statement released by the Community Mobilization Network (formerly the Toronto Community Mobilization Network and the main facilitator of the demonstration that late June weekend), the group is calling for all the G20 charges to the drop and for the firing of both Chief Blair and MPP Bartolucci.

“The report ‘Caught in the Act’ released by Ontario Provincial Ombudsman Andre Marin yesterday further confirms the illegitimacy of arrests and charges stemming from the G20. The report documents the callous disregard for residents of Toronto shown by multiple levels of government and the Police.

‘They evoked wartime legislation and knowingly misled the public to extend their powers to conduct the largest mass arrest in Canadian history and commit countless assaults’ said Sonja Killoran-McKibbin, member of the Community Solidarity Network (CSN). Hundreds were detained and illegally searched, homes of community organizers were raided while others were picked off the streets and put into unmarked vans. Many continue to face political targeting through continued arrests and egregious bail restrictions.

As is evidenced clearly in the report, the Police and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services colluded and acted with presumed immunity. ‘Those responsible must be held directly accountable for these abuses. The Ministry granted the police extravagant powers and actively worked to keep the public uninformed while the police carried out a campaign of misinformation’ added Jessica Denyer, also a member of the CSN.”

Now let me turn your attention to the federal government (un)reaction to this mess, for after all, it was the Federal government that brought the G20 Summit to downtown Toronto.

Commenting on the Marin report, Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said he wasn’t even aware at the time of the G20 law passed by Ontario until after the summit had ended — does this guy not watch the news? – and added that federal government had no involvement in bringing forward the Public Works Protection Act.

To sum up the Federal government’s position, it claims ignorance to the whole affairs despite the fact it was the host.

I’m still waiting for Stephen Harper to speak up; this was his party after all.

Krystalline Kraus

krystalline kraus is an intrepid explorer and reporter from Toronto, Canada. A veteran activist and journalist for, she needs no aviator goggles, gas mask or red cape but proceeds fearlessly...