Crazy new rules give G20 cops superpowers, but only until Sunday

Crazy new rules give G20 cops superpowers, but only until Sunday

More power to you: Toronto cops survey toddlers at Grange Park (Image: Alfred Ng, from the torontolife.com Flickr pool) 

The Ontario government quietly but dramatically expanded the powers available to police during the G20 summit in Toronto. New regulations allow police to stop and demand ID from anyone within five metres of the Red Zone (we’ve all become accustomed to downtown Toronto resembling downtown Baghdad, right?). Those who refuse or question the reasonableness could be arrested, like this guy, who the Star was all over this morning.

The paper explains:

The regulation was made under Ontario’s Public Works Protection Act and was not debated in the Legislature. According to a provincial spokesperson, the cabinet action came in response to an “extraordinary request” by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who wanted additional policing powers shortly after learning the G20 was coming to Toronto.

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.

OpenFile quotes ISU spokesperson Tim Garland as saying, “We don’t make the law; we’re the ones enforcing it.” Which is true enough, except when the law is being made at the “extraordinary request” of the police chief. Having the province and the ISU pointing fingers at each other, saying “he made me do it!” does not inspire confidence.

The time-limited nature of these powers makes us think less of a scary police state, though, and more of some kind of weird video game power-up. It’s like Bill Blair just grabbed the invincibility star in Mario Bros. and has to get the most out of it before he stops flashing. We assume most people were planning on giving the cops a wide berth anyway, but who knows what other special powers they have? Invisibility cloaks? Superpowered Tasers?

• G20 law gives police sweeping powers to arrest people [Toronto Star]

• G20: Police given extra powers [OpenFile.ca]

• Police get new powers for G20 [CBC]

• When it comes to summit security, police answer to no one [Globe and Mail]