Tuesday, December 21, 2010

McGuinty sheds light on G20 law controversy

It was a secret law, drawn up in secret, that led to the not-so-secret imposition of police-state conditions in free and democratic Toronto.
But what is now out in public, for the first time since the G20 mess in June, is that Premier Dalton McGuinty says he has punished people under his command — including former community safety minister Rick Bartolucci.
“I’ll tell you what we have done,” McGuinty said on Saturday’s showing of Global’s Focus Ontario with Sean Mallen. “I have made some changes ... I think they are pretty significant. I changed ministers. I changed a deputy minister. I made sure we understand the significance of what took place.”
In case the premier doesn’t understand, what took place was the highest law of our land, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, appears to have fallen to a regulation passed in secret that unleashed a War Measures Act-like response while he sat by and permitted it.
Only Ontario voters can change the premier. Meanwhile, up until now, it has been mainly Chief Bill Blair taking all the heat.
While the police have yet to be sanctioned, it turns out others in government have already had the can tied to them — namely Bartolucci who was shifted to municipal affairs and housing. Jim Bradley took on his role of community safety minister in a quiet August cabinet shuffle — something the premier calls holding people to account.
Veteran Queen’s Park reporter Mallen pressed: “Does this mean Bartolucci was fired?”
“I am saying we have people in place now who fully understand how to get these things straight going forward,” responded McGuinty.
I put a call into Bartolucci for his side on this because there were so many bureaucratic failures during the G20, including the failure to work openly with the public and other police forces, the failure to act when a small number of people ransacked the city and the failure to stop innocent citizens arrested or detained for no reason.
Other failures included the police taking a passive, stand-down-approach while the black bloc rioters raged and later evoking martial law-like conditions that saw people beaten and hundreds detained.
Interestingly, McGuinty told Mallen it was “the police for the city of Toronto” who “contacted us and said, ‘We are concerned about security measures’” and that they wanted the same authority inside their high security fencing as they have in courthouses. If somebody steps inside, the police wanted the right to ask for identification and to search bags, according to McGuinty.
It was also noteworthy the premier said the request was for “inside our security fencing” when the debate has been about the legality of this being a massive suspension of civil liberties outside the fence.
The chief told me personally “our people working for the ISU came forward with requests for that (and it) was passed through the city lawyers, and to the ISU and up to me. The request has to come from the chief of police and I signed it and the document was sent over to the ministry. It was articulated why the ISU felt it was important to have that authority and it was sent.”
Blair also said he “had a very honest belief” the law “pertained to five metres outside the fence.”
So was it Toronto Police or ISU requesting this special law? Was it inside the fence or outside they were looking to enforce?
Since we don’t know who the mystery deputy minister is perhaps Bartolucci — the only known casualty of the G20 — can clarify it all for us.

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