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While world leaders descended upon Toronto to discuss financial reform and the global economy at the G-20 summit, protesters clashed with riot police.
TORONTO — A government changes a law to allow police to arrest people without probable cause. It does so without any legislative debate. Then it keeps the change a virtual secret, until someone is arrested under those new powers.
The Soviet Union circa 1950? Nope. Try Canada, June 2010.
Civil liberties advocates and political activists are up in arms after it emerged Friday that police in Toronto have been given special powers to arrest anyone near the site of the G20 summit if they fail to identify themselves.
What’s more, the government of the province of Ontario, which green-lit the new powers, didn’t tell anyone about it until after someone was arrested under the new powers.
Thirty-one-year-old Dave Vasey was arrested near the G20 perimeter security fence in downtown Toronto Thursday afternoon after refusing to identify himself to a police officer.
“The officer told me, ‘I am going to have to place you under arrest if you don’t show your identification,’ and I replied ‘I’m not comfortable with that,'” Vasey said, as quoted at the Toronto Star.
With Vasey’s arrest, it emerged that Ontario secretly changed its Public Works Protection Act to allow police officers unprecedented powers of arrest. That law allowed police to arrest people if they fail to identify themselves to a police officer when inside a government building or near a “public works” project. It has now been expanded to include the area around the G20 summit, meaning a significant portion of downtown Toronto.
The Toronto Star reports:
The regulation kicked in Monday and will expire June 28, the day after the summit ends. While the new regulation appeared without notice on the province’s e-Laws online database last week, it won’t be officially published in The Ontario Gazette until July 3 – one week after the regulation expires.
According to the new regulation, “guards” appointed under the act can arrest anyone who, in specific areas, comes within five metres of the security zone.
Within those areas, police can demand identification from anyone coming within five metres of the fence perimeter and search them. If they refuse, they face arrest. Anyone convicted under the regulation could also face up to two months in jail or a $500 maximum fine.
And June 26: G20 confrontation between extreme police & protesters
Peaceful demonstrators reach a blockade of foot, bike, riot, and horseback police officers at University Avenue at Elm Street on June 25. The marchers were participation in a “Community Day of Action” during the G20 summit in Toronto. In addition to what you see and hear, riot police were banging their batons against their shields as they moved into position, and other officers put on gas masks.