Ontario Ombudsman calls G20 fence “illegal,” “likely unconstitutional”

Ontario Ombudsman calls G20 fence “illegal,” “likely unconstitutional”

Not all the blame for G20 abuses needs to be heaped on Bill Blair—it looks like the Ontario government may come in for some licks too, after Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin released a report today calling the Liberals’ use of the Public Works Protection Act, now immortalized as the “G20 fence law,” an abuse of a law that gave the police “wartime powers.” The report’s main findings:

• The PWPA is probably unconstitutional, and the arrests under its authority are massive abuses of civil rights.

• Even if the law was fine, it still ought to have been handled better. (No kidding?) The province didn’t publicize the regulation well, and hasn’t handled the aftermath well either.

• Many of the people caught up in the police sweeps of the fence were innocent bystanders.

None of that is terribly surprising for the people who lived through it, but the press conference with Marin’s announcement has also been pretty spicy. Marin says that his office got zero co-operation from the Toronto Police, something he called “astounding,” and that the use of the PWPA was “the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history.” One point we particularly liked to see was the recognition that this wasn’t just about people who got too close to the security fence: the supposed five-metre rule was actually a five-kilometre rule, according to Marin—the police used their expanded powers all over the city.

Just a guess, but it’s days like this where a lot of Liberals in Queen’s Park are probably wishing they’d managed to fire Marin back when they had the chance.

• Caught in the Act—Ombudsman Report [Ontario Ombudsman]
• G20 police rule slammed by ombudsman [CBC News]
• G20 law gave cops ‘wartime’ power, resulted in mass rights violation: ombudsman [CP24]