police state canada: g20 insanity, part two

This morning we learned that weeks ago, with no public consultation or legislative debate, the Ontario Government authorized special police powers for use before and during the G20 summit.

The Public Works Protection Act, as Orwellian a name as I've heard since coming to Canada, gives enormous power to police, to be used at their own discretion, or lack thereof.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association tells us that the Act allows the
power to search without warrants, obligation of visitors to state name and purpose of the visit, power to deny entry. Most of these powers contradict current constitutional safeguards. The Regulation, which was not announced and has appeared on e-laws, will be published in its regular form on July 3rd 2010.

These unconstitutional, fascist powers, which supposedly apply only along the border of the Great Security Fence now standing in Toronto's downtown core, took effect Monday. In other words, by the time we, the people, were informed of them, the rules were already in effect. It was too late to seek a court injunction or to protest them or to speak to our elected representatives about them.

Tim Burrows, spokesperson for the "G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit" that is charged with keeping Our Lords and Masters safe from angry peasants, reassures us that the peasantry should not be afraid. "The public has nothing to fear with this legislation and the way the police will use this legislation," said Burrows.

Whew! Thanks, Tim! We all feel so much better now. Please continue to trample on our rights!

In fact, "two or three" arrests - Tim's not sure how many - have already been made under the new law. And you see, everything is fine. Ask this man. He was arrested and left in a wire cage for the crime of walking around.

The regulations state that anyone who comes within five metres of the Great Security Fence must give police their name and state the purpose of their visit.

Police can deny anyone access to the area.

Police can search anyone who approaches the fence.

Police can use "whatever force is necessary," at their own judgement and discretion, to keep people out.

The Canadian Labour Congress and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association were in court yesterday, seeking an injunction against the use of ear-destroying "sound canons" against protesters. This morning the suit was dismissed.

This CBC story says, "Protesters worry the devices can cause long-term hearing damage". Wrong. Protesters know the devices can cause long-term hearing damage, damage to internal organs and brain damage. But hey, if they're good enough for the US military to use against Iraqis, they're good enough for the Integrated Security Unit to use against Canadian citizens.

LRADS don't cause hearing damage. And tasers are non-lethal weapons. Just ask Zofia Cisowski.

Up in Huntsville at the G8, nothing spells police state like the detention of reporters. A Canadian Press reporter was detained because he was carrying a gas mask and body armour, which he needs because of the people who are detaining him.
Before I opened the trunk of my car, there were two officers scanning my vehicle from the outside.

Once the lid was opened, and the contents of the trunk revealed, uniformed police seemed to come out of every corner.

Two more police officers. Then four more. Three taking notes. Then another.

Two more still began to rifle their way through the entire car, looking curiously at my half-eaten bagel and the bottle of wine I bought as a thank you gesture to my friend and Huntsville resident for letting me stay at his place for a couple of nights.

While one stood guard over me, presumably for my own safety, officers from the Ontario Provincial Police crime unit descended on the vehicle.

Then, the G8 security task force sent in their people. More uniforms took notes.

"Of course, we are very curious about why you are carrying body armour and a gas mask in your car," said a female officer who asked not to be identified in the media. In fact, no one could be identified. For security reasons, of course.

"You understand."

All standard equipment issued by my employer for covering demonstrations that could get out of hand, I assured them.

Seems my assurances weren't good enough.

"What is your supervisor's name?" one officer asked.

"We'll need to speak with him," said another.

They called Scott White, editor-in-chief of The Canadian Press, to confirm that our reporters are issued safety equipment like gas masks and vests. But that apparently wasn't enough to get me through.

Soon, a helicopter was hovering overhead.

Then came the bomb-sniffing dogs.

I was still being detained, nearly two hours after being pulled over. And I was growing only slightly aggravated by the lengths to which they were going to interrogate a reporter.

I saw a story. So I asked that I be allowed to videotape my interrogators.

"You can't do that," said one moustached officer.

"We have protocols, and you wouldn't want to put us in danger, now would you?"

Soon I was moved behind a large metal mesh fence, again "for your own security."

And another thing: where has our billion dollars gone? "G20: Canada’s billion-dollar summit mystery".

Part I of G20 insanity here.

Save Our Civil Liberties: Oppose The PWPA on Facebook.

Sign the petition to oppose the Public Works Protection Act.


Steve said...

This is not Canada. Christ, Steven Harper is such an asshole.

L-girl said...

Dalton McGuinty's not such a prize, either.

John F said...

I'm torn between hating the outrageous lockdown of downtown Toronto and fearing that they'll decide to hold future meetings on an aircraft carrier or something. At least in the city, there's a chance that they'll hear the distant rumble of protest.

Of course, the alternative is to hold the summit in a major urban area without turning it into a DMZ, but I suppose that will never happen again.

John F said...

Oh, and I hope that someone arrested under the Public Works Protection Act has the means to challenge it in court. It will be way too late to affect the summit, of course, but at least the primacy of the Charter might someday be reaffirmed.

redsock said...

The idiotic "If you are not doing anything wrong ..." rationale -- which anyone who regards herself as an intelligent adult should be embarrassed to say -- really doesn't apply when no one has any idea of the laws the King has passed in secret.

Have more laws been passed? Who knows? They are secret. Better hope you don't violate one of them. ... Perhaps it's best if you just stay in your house, watch TV, and shut the fuck up. Now that's freedom.

Andrea said...

imagine how bad it would be if Harper had a majority?

impudent strumpet said...

Currently, not having a driver's licence or a passport counts as "doing something wrong".

Scott M. said...

I am *not* happy that it hasn't been published in Ontario Gazette yet.

Mike said...

Unbelievable! I'm just stunned. Passing laws in secret is just so... I can't think of anything that will express my disgust. It's antidemocratic for sure and I really hope it gets thrown out in court. Dalton has got to go. What other little surprise laws are they going to spring on us next.

Anonymous said...

Just got this news alert from CBC news:
G20 protest moving through Toronto's downtown

At least 2,000 people are noisily marching through downtown Toronto streets as part of a G20 protest. They are being watched closely by hundreds of police officers.

L-girl said...

We just got home from the "Shout Out for Global Justice" event. It was GREAT. We had dinner w/ a friend who has been at marches and protests all week. He said everything has been well attended and peaceful, with a few small exceptions of police violence. (Today a cop punched and manhandled a journalist.)

Tomorrow is the main march and protest. It's supposed to rain, unfortunately. But I'm excited about it.

Hopefully I will write about the Shout Out event and the march on Sunday.

L-girl said...

imagine how bad it would be if Harper had a majority?

I agree with your shudder, but two things: he hardly has any opposition in Parliament to speak of, and this law came from the Liberal McGuinty provincial government.

L-girl said...

Currently, not having a driver's licence or a passport counts as "doing something wrong".

Wow. I asked several downtown friends of mine who don't drive what they use for photo ID, and they all said health cards. bzzzt

L-girl said...

Oh, and I hope that someone arrested under the Public Works Protection Act has the means to challenge it in court. It will be way too late to affect the summit, of course, but at least the primacy of the Charter might someday be reaffirmed.

The CCLA will represent them. It's definitely an important fight.

geek guy said...

I dont like it
How ever The power was always ben there in this case it has be modified because of the G20
look it up
any it will be struck down in court

L-girl said...

look it up

Why don't you explain instead?

any it will be struck down in court

I hope so. But 1 - passing laws without public knowledge and consultation and without legislative review is wrong and dangerous, no matter what the law, 2 - court challenges will be too late for anyone arrested or worse under the law, and 3 - this is designed to stifle dissent, and no court challenge after the fact can change that.

We should not shrug our shoulders at this and think, oh well, it's wrong, but it's no big deal.

Mike said...

It really sounds like something you'd expect from some sort of tin pot dictator or from a farce about a totalitarian government.

"You're under arrest"
"What for ?"
"Breaking the law that was secretly passed yesterday, ignorance of the law is no excuse"

I doubt/hope it won't stand up to a court challenge, but since it can already stifle dissent and after the effect striking down of it won't really stop it being used now.
Of course Harper's Cons have already killed the court challenges budget, funny how that works eh?
p.s. I'm still really disgusted at the sheer gall of the Legislature on this one. I mean passing this in effective secrecy at the last minute is positively Orwellian. These guys have to go.
Sorry for rambling.

L-girl said...

You are more than welcome to ramble about such things in this space. We all need a lot of venting right now!

impudent strumpet said...

I asked several downtown friends of mine who don't drive what they use for photo ID, and they all said health cards. bzzzt

Are you saying that I'm mistaken and your downtown friends have successfully used their health cards for G20 ID? Or are you saying your downtown friends are mistaken in thinking they can use their health cards?

Because if I'm wrong (and I'd love to be wrong on this!) I'd like to correct my blog post so as not to spread misinformation.

L-girl said...

Oh, sorry for being confusing. I was assuming you are correct. I believe they use health care cards without having checked whether or not that is considered acceptable.

geek guy said...

See the power has bean there for LONG time
Look at part B & C!!

Public Works Protection Act

R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER P.55

1.In this Act,
“guard” means a guard appointed under this Act; (“gardien”)
“highway” means a common or public highway or a part thereof, and includes any street, bridge and any other structure incidental thereto and any part thereof; (“voie publique”)
“public work” includes,
(a) any railway, canal, highway, bridge, power works including all property used for the generation, transformation, transmission, distribution or supply of hydraulic or electrical power, gas works, water works, public utility or other work, owned, operated or carried on by the Government of Ontario or by any board or commission thereof, or by any municipal corporation, public utility commission or by private enterprises,
(b) any provincial and any municipal public building, and
(c) any other building, place or work designated a public work by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

Susan Eichhorn-Young said...

This makes me SICK. As a Canadian living in the States, with family currently in that delightful Toronto downtown core, I am APPALLED at this behavior and really want to know who will be accountable and you SHOULD be accountable. This is not the Canada I know. Mayor Miller said he heard of this facism via the newspaper...Steven Harper - you should be ashamed of yourself, but of course you won't be. You all stay protected and hidden in your ivory towers - oblivious to the real issues and the real people.

L-girl said...

Thanks for that, Susan. Tell Dalton McGuinty how you feel.

GG, you've posted the definition of a public work. What you posted does not include warrantless searches, using "whatever force deemed necessary" at the sole discretion of police and "pre-emptive" arrests, which means arresting people who have committed no crime.

If you have informaion that these already exist under provincial or federal law, please let us know.

impudent strumpet said...

@geek guy: The other problem is the fence wouldn't normally be considered a public work because it's a temporary structure. They did specifically designate it under paragraph c) of the legislation you cited, but the problem is that they never announced that it was being designated as such until after that first guy got arrested.

Scott M. said...

Actually, in order for the Order-in-Council to be official, it must be published in the Ontario Gazette. The government intentionally waited until after the Thursday deadline to submit the OiC for publishing.

That means it'll come out on July 2.

That really, really angers me.

geek guy said...

you cant post it all on comments goole has a limit
That's way i seed look it up
Public Works Protection Act
freest & second link on google
yes very bad day for spelling
after people are Arrest standard in custody protocols
This will be chalingd in court as well as mass Arrest!

geek guy said...

@ Scott M
See gov Link

Not The Ontario Gazette:
but it has the reg you wont

L-girl said...

Geek Guy, the article I posted says very clearly that the law was posted online. But that is not the way laws are officially published in Ontario.

Unless you can offer some proof that these laws were already on the books - the laws, not the definition of a public work - and some response to Imp Strump's comment above (10:19), you're not winning anyone over.

Since every single legal scholar, constitutional expert, lawyer and civil liberties defender I've read agrees that this is a new law, passed in secret, that extends police power without proper protection, I have to conclude you are wrong.