The G20 Summit is underway in Toronto, Ontario this weekend. The event began on the 25th and will end on the 27th. For the past couple of weeks a G20 security zone has been set up. About a month ago under the Public Works Protection Act of 1939 the Ontario government quietly designated the entire G20 security zone as a temporary public work. Anyone entering or even approaching a designated area can be searched without warrant. Furthermore guards of public work sites (eg. provincial/municipal buildings) have the ability to demand a visitor’s name and, purpose for the visit, refuse permission to enter, and arrest without warrant. Essentially what this means for the G20 is the police have been granted powers they normally do not have. The temporary designation went into effect June 21 and will be rescinded the day after the summit ends, on June 28. Those found guilty under the act are subject to imprisonment for up to two month or a $500 fine.
There are a few problems with the designation of the G20 security zone as being public work from this Canadian's perspective:
- The Ontario government quietly put this designation into effect without public input. The Ontario government has essentially turned Toronto into a police state stripping Canadian citizens of their civil rights. Canadians have the constitutional right to travel where they please. Unless a citizen is doing something illegal or being stopped for a traffic infraction then they do not have to produce identification. The very idea that someone could be arrested for not producing identification simply for walking near the G20 security zone is a clear infringement of the Canadian Bill of Rights R.S.C. 1985, Appendix II.
- Reports have already come out with one reporter being turned away from the G8 security zone another clear infringement on the Bill of Rights R.S.C. 1985, Appendix II that guarantees freedom of the press. The journalist, Terry Pedwell is a veteran reporter based in Ottawa, who has worked for The Canadian Press for more than 20 years. He ihas reported from Afghanistan and covered many high-profile events around the world. In his report of his G8 security zone detainment of 2 hours the police intimidation.
- Police intimidation - The strong police presence has created episodes of police intimidation. Police have been video taped physically pushing citizens that were simply walking past them. A youth was surrounded by nine officers who spoke quite clearly of how intimidated and scared he was as the police searched his bag. There were racial overtones in this particular incident. Earlier this morning a young woman spoke to the press regarding police breaking into her home, pulling her sleeping guests from the beds and demanding identification. A huge presence of police in riot gear further intensifies the intimidation many protesters are facing despite the have a constitutional right to peaceful demonstration. Video evidence is confirming other types of police intimidation such as shouting at protesters and shoving them for no apparent reason. I suspect some of the videos may lead to charges against police officers who abused their authority.