Ontario announces inquiry into G20 fence law that is totally not related to the G20

Ontario announces inquiry into G20 fence law that is totally not related to the G20

When is an inquiry into the G20 not really an inquiry into the G20? When the province announces it’s going to appoint a respected jurist to look at one of the most controversial aspects of the summit, but not the summit itself. The Toronto Star is reporting today that Dalton McGuinty has tapped Roy McMurtry to head up an independent review of the 1939 Public Works Protection Act, or as it became lovingly known downtown that weekend, “the five-metre fence rule.”

McMurtry, an attorney general and solicitor general in the 1970s and 1980s under premier Bill Davis, will look at the scope of authority given to police and requirements for public notice of regulations made under the act, how it applies to major events, and what constitutes a “public work” under the law.

It was a regulation under the act, quietly rubber-stamped by Premier Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet early last June, that designated areas within the downtown G20 security zone as a “public work.” Misunderstandings over the significance of the regulation catapulted the Ontario government and Toronto police chief Bill Blair into controversy.

The funny thing is, the Post is reporting that the review will not look at the effect the law had during the G20. Sure enough, the terms of reference spell out, “Mr. McMurtry will not consider or comment on any litigation or legal matters before the courts.” Except, of course, they also say that the review will look at the law’s historical applications, like recent history when the province and police lied about the powers they had during World War II. They also add that the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Jim Bradley, will occasionally check in with McMurtry so he doesn’t make the government look like a bunch of clowns again gets regular updates.

So, we’ve got an independent review of one of the more embarrassing aspects of the G20—though there are so many to choose from—except that it won’t look at the G20 itself, because the election is just one year away there are still cases before the courts. That’s what we call progress!

G20 ‘secret law’ to undergo independent review [Toronto Star]
• Update: Roy McMurtry to lead review of ‘secret’ G20 law [National Post]
• Terms of Reference (PWPA Review) [Ontario Government]
Review Of G20 Secret Law Due Out Next Spring: Report [City News]