G20 aftermath: despite “shocking” abuses, there likely won’t be a full inquiry without at least two elections

G20 aftermath: despite “shocking” abuses, there likely won’t be a full inquiry without at least two elections

Yesterday saw yet another release of a report [PDF] on police actions during last year’s G20 weekend. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the National Union of Public and General Employees, flanked by Liberal and NDP MPs, called the abuses of protesters and other citizens “shocking” and “systematic.” Despite this, Dalton McGuinty and Stephen Harper have stood firm against calls for a comprehensive public inquiry into the G20.

McGuinty prefers the half-hearted piecemeal approach, according to the Toronto Sun:

“With five separate reviews under way, I think we are coming at it from a number of perspectives,” McGuinty said. “I’m going to let the reviews speak to that.”…

McGuinty said he’s particularly interested in hearing the results of former Ontario chief justice Roy McMurtry’s inquiry into how the province handled changes to an archaic law protecting public infrastructur—changes that police said gave them the right to arrest anyone within five metres of the downtown security zone who didn’t identify themselves.

Some of the abuses detailed by the CCLA include:

  • A heavy police presence tailor-made to cause antagonism between all sides;
  • Police “infiltration” of protester groups;
  • Flagrant abuse of the Public Works Protection Act;
  • many, many examples of excessive use of force.

While the CCLA and NDP called for a public inquiry, both the Conservatives in Ottawa and the Liberals at Queen’s Park are united in saying the existing institutions are sufficient for anyone who’s agitated by pesky little things like “kettling” and an unaccountable police force. If this matters to voters, it looks like the only remedy for this situation is going to be two elections—replacing obstructionist parties in government provincially and federally.

Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives are exactly in the running for the next Profile in Courage, but we’d like to single out MPP Glen Murray, who has taken to Twitter to say, in effect, that none of this is Queen’s Park’s responsibility. The police are municipal, and the planning was Ottawa’s, says Murray, so back off.

As he’s clearly aware of where the boundaries are, we don’t have to tell Murray that both the city and its police are created by provincial law—and that his boss was instrumental in the secret approval of sweeping new powers for the cops for the G20 weekend. The province isn’t squeamish about intervening in other parts of city affairs, so this sudden concern for boundaries is kind of cute.

• Breach of the Peace: Final Report [PDF] [Canadian Civil Liberties Association]
• McGuinty rejects G20 public inquiry [Toronto Sun]
Report details ‘shocking’ abuses at G20 summit [Toronto Star]
Civil rights trampled in police response to G20 protests: Report [Toronto Star]
• Civil-liberties report ratchets up pressure for public inquiry into G20 summit [Globe and Mail]