Archive for the ‘Dalton McGuinty’ Category

Province of Ontario to scrap secret G20 law

April 28, 2011

I wrote a series of posts about the G8/G2o Summit and the Public Works Protection Act last year:

UPDATE: Tall Fences Make For Good Sheep [And Some Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing]: The G8/G20 Police State Edition

James Morton on “Public Works Protection Act valid-#G20”: A Reply

“Don’t Fence Me In”: The G20 PWPA Regulation Applied Only Inside the Security Fence

The Toronto Star reports today:

Ontario plans to scrap a “troubling” World War II-era law blamed for arrests, confusion and alleged civil rights abuses in policing the G20 summit last June, the Star has learned.

Community Safety and Corrections Minister Jim Bradley will announce the move Thursday after former attorney general and chief justice Roy McMurtry delivers his long-awaited report on the flawed 1939 Public Works Protection Act, a top government source said.

The broad arrest powers creates “potential for abuse (that is) beyond troubling,” McMurtry wrote in his 54-page effort, a copy of which was obtained by the Star.

He compared such legislation to a “loaded weapon” for authorities to use at their whim, and noted the public works law was initially passed to protect public works like hydroelectric plants at Niagara Falls from Nazi sabotage.

“The PWPA raises issues regarding the liberty and security of the person in providing for warrantless searches and stopping for identification,” he added, noting police or private guards do not have to justify their actions on citizens, who face fines of up to $500 and two months in jail for disobeying.

“A vague law can lead to inconsistent and arbitrary enforcement … In my view, the PWPA has been used for purposes beyond its intent.”

A copy of the REPORT OF THE REVIEW OF THE PUBLIC WORKS PROTECTION ACT by The Honourable R. Roy McMurtry, O.C., O.Ont., Q.C. dated April 2011 is available here.

It was a privilege to be a contributing member of the Ontario Bar Association’s Working Group which prepared the Submission to the Honourable R. Roy McMurtry’s Review of the Public Works Protection Act , submitted December 23, 2010 .

Chief Justice McMurtry agreed with the OBA’s position concerning lack of notice regarding O. Reg. 233/10 and its effects prior to and during the G20, noting at p. 47 of the Report:

“In its consultations with me, the OBA similarly stated that the existing nature of court security is necessary and is generally “well tolerated.” At the same time, however, it submits that the security regime should not be “shoehorned” into the PWPA regime and that it would be preferable to provide a legislative framework tailored for the specific security requirements. While the PWPA has been relied upon as support for the exercise of powers by the police in providing court security, the OBA submits that the PWPA’s “single security scheme” which declares something a “public work” is an “awkward, blunt instrument in a world where more specialized tools are necessary.” When warrantless searches are being done on a routine basis, it is advisable to have specific legislation providing peace officers with such power.”

"Don’t Fence Me In": The G20 PWPA Regulation Applied Only Inside the Security Fence

June 29, 2010
This is a legal post-mortem following the “anarchy” (if you define anarchy as the absence of the rule of law) and “violence” (if you define violence as property damage) over the weekend during the G20 Summit in Toronto.
 Recall the confidence exuding from every pore of Chief Blair’s resolute and determined face when he advised the public that, yes, indeed, the Order-In-Council regulation passed by Premier Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet to temporarily amend the Ontario Public Works Protection Act granted the G20 Integrated Security Unit “special” police powers if anyone broached the G20 security fence perimeter protecting the G20 leaders while they convened to save the world from global economic crisis.  As cataclysmic events unfolded, The Chief minced no words when he spoke of the legal ramifications if anyone “broke the law” by approaching within 5 metres of the security fence erected around the “Red Zone” in the downtown Toronto core. 
Well, not so fast. It turns out that the PWPA regulation applied only “inside” not “outside” the security fence deemed to be a public work. As CTV Toronto reports:

TORONTO — Toronto’s police chief is admitting there never was a five-metre rule that had people fearing arrest if they strayed too close to the G20 security perimeter.
Civil libertarians were fuming after hearing Friday that the Ontario cabinet gave police the power to stop and search anyone coming within five metres of the G20 fences in Toronto for a one week period.
However, the Ministry of Community Safety says all the cabinet did was update the law that governs entry to such things as court houses to include specific areas inside the G20 fences — not outside.
A ministry spokeswoman says the change was about property, not police powers, and did not include any mention of a zone five metres outside the G20 security perimeter.
When asked today if there actually was a five-metre rule given the ministry’s clarification, Blair smiled and said, “No, but I was trying to keep the criminals out.”

 And now, let’s along sing along to Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters’ rendition of “Don’t Fence Me In”:

Perhaps next time, the Ontario provincial Liberal government will consult the Ministry of the Attorney General Office on the legality of legislation it passes and the propriety of informing the public beforehand.

UPDATE: Tall Fences Make For Good Sheep [And Some Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing]: The G8/G20 Police State Edition

June 25, 2010

 “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storm may enter, the rain may enter — but the King of England cannot enter; all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!” -William Pitt the Elder, 1st Earl of Chatham, Viscount Pitt of Burton-Pynsent ,byname The Great Commoner, 1708-1778)

UPDATE: Is anyone surprised that there were some wolves in sheep’s clothing in downtown Toronto today? 

According to CBC News:

“Police in riot gear and protesters clashed during a massive anti-G20 protest march through downtown Toronto that saw at least two police vehicles set ablaze, store and bank windows damaged, and much of the area put under security lockdowns.

 The police cruisers were set on fire at the corner of King and Bay streets in the heart of the city’s financial district. At one point, as one vehicle burned, protesters surrounded police officers who were trying to protect the car, CBC reporter Amber Hildebrandt reported on Twitter.

Police denied reports that tear gas was fired in at least two locations.
The size of the protest crowd has been estimated to be as high as 10,000.
The summit officially gets underway later Saturday with a working dinner hosted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
With the violence escalating, the entire area around the actual summit site at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is now under a security lockdown.”

A protester kicks a burning police car in Toronto. Photograph: Ryan Remiorz/AP  (via

When you criminalize political expression with a secret law, you antagonize and incite radicalism.

Welcome to the Police State, also known as Toronto. Admittedly, it is a pristine, tranquil and unadulterated  police state; but a police state, nonetheless. Adorned with a fake lake, abandoned downtown streets and a lovely chain link fence cordoning off Toronto from any anarchists, miscreants, malcontents, troublemakers and ‘ne’er do wells’ who happen to traipse across the opaque blue line drawn by the G8/G20 summit security forces. George Orwell, we hardly knew ye. Toronto the Good. The Big Smoke. The T-Dot. These monikers are all so 20th century. We are the sheep whose wool has been pulled over our own eyes.

According to today’s CBC News report,

“Ontario’s cabinet quietly passed the new rules on June 2 without legislature debate.
Sgt. Tim Burrows of the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit said the new regulations make parts of the existing Public Works Protection Act apply to the G20 security zone in downtown Toronto.
‘The public has nothing to fear with this legislation and the way the police will use this legislation,” said Burrows. “It really comes down to a case of common sense and officer discretion. If you’re approaching that fence line, we want to know why.’”
Ah, yes. Sgt. Burrows. Thank you for the officious, I mean official, explanation. These new powers under the Public Works Protection Act O.Reg. 233/10 (“PWPA”)—-in effect on the streets and sidewalks in and around the security fence—were introduced on June 2nd, 2010 and published on June 16, 2010. I suppose it was too much to expect a public announcement of the passing of this new police state power before it went into effect.  This new and improved version of the War Measures Act (for those who are interested, there’s now an Emergencies Act) is an impressive piece of legislative drafting, The powers under s.3 of the PWPA are sweeping in breadth and scope:
Powers of guard or peace officer

3.A guard or peace officer,

(a) may require any person entering or attempting to enter any public work or any approach thereto to furnish his or her name and address, to identify himself or herself and to state the purpose for which he or she desires to enter the public work, in writing or otherwise;

(b) may search, without warrant, any person entering or attempting to enter a public work or a vehicle in the charge or under the control of any such person or which has recently been or is suspected of having been in the charge or under the control of any such person or in which any such person is a passenger; and

(c) may refuse permission to any person to enter a public work and use such force as is necessary to prevent any such person from so entering. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.55, s. 3.

Photo credit: via Twitter
Just in case you didn’t get the memo, the PWPA creates a reverse onus offence; the burden of proof shifts to the accused to prove that an offence has not been committed:
Statement under oath to be conclusive evidence

4.For the purposes of this Act, the statement under oath of an officer or employee of the government, board, commission, municipal or other corporation or other person owning, operating or having control of a public work, as to the boundaries of the public work is conclusive evidence thereof. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.55, s. 4.

Refusal to obey guard, etc.

5.(1)Every person who neglects or refuses to comply with a request or direction made under this Act by a guard or peace officer, and every person found upon a public work or any approach thereto without lawful authority, the proof whereof lies on him or her, is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $500 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two months, or to both.


(2)A guard or peace officer may arrest, without warrant, any person who neglects or refuses to comply with a request or direction of a guard or peace officer, or who is found upon or attempting to enter a public work without lawful authority. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.55, s. 5. [emphasis added]

How did this tidbit of Solonic legislating get passed in the first place? Who knows? Who cares? It’s next to impossible to rally the sheep to jump the fence. Fear not my fellow sheep. We are safe and secure. Just say this prayer with me aloud:


The Premier is my shepherd,
I shall not want;
He makes me lie down in asphalt pastures.
He leads me beside still fake lake waters;
He restores my faith in the economy.
He leads me in paths without fences.
for His name’s sake.

Yea, Even though I walk through the Don Valley
of the shadow of downtown,
I fear no evil;
for You, Dalton and your security forces are with me;

Your truncheons and your PR staff, they comfort me.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me 
all the days of my life; 
and I shall dwell in the outhouse of parliament, 
As far as the jaundiced eye can see, the G8/G20 Summit is not a prelude to declaration of war, unless you consider fighting a global economic crisis “A War on Poverty”.

I hope that the G8/G20 leaders from the strongest of industrialized nations are invited by Premier Dalton McGuinty to take a walking tour down at Queen’s Park this weekend. There they will chance upon a beautiful, yet austere building, built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style with a load bearing iron frame called the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. This is where democratically elected politicians, known as Members of Provincial Parliament, convene to debate, draft and hopefully pass laws in the public interest. Do you recall any notice to the public before this Order-in-Council was passed in the backroom?

Sadly, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. sagely observed, “the common law is not a brooding omnipresence in the sky”. According to a breaking CBC News story:

“[Justice Brown of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice]  has dismissed a motion that sought to ban police use of so-called sound cannons to control crowds during the G20 summit in Toronto.
While Friday’s decision allows police to use the devices, it also places limits on how they can use them. Police must conform to Ontario Provincial Police operating rules for the cannons, the judge said.”

Will the boom of sound cannons be replaced by the sound of voices mingled with the clear tintinnabulation of democracy? Move along, nothing to see here.

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