Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Security for Freedom is not the Answer - Statement to Mr. Blair

Mr. Blair, police chief of Toronto, you wilfully deceived the public and you were caught by the media red-handed. This is not a statement of opinion. It is fact. My opinion is that you should resign and surrender yourself to an independent inquiry. That will not happen unless you are forced to by political and public pressure.

Dalton McGuinty and The Ministry of Community Safety by not speaking out and informing us about the misconstruction of the regulation that was actually passed were abetting this behaviour. They allowed a police officer to create laws in an ad hoc manner in the name of public safety.

It doesn’t matter if no one was charged under these fake laws. The illegal searches and demands for ID the police undertook during the G20, sometimes kilometres away from the zone that only existed in Mr. Blair’s twisted narcissistic mind acted as an intimidation tactic that stifled free expression.

You admitted that you intentionally suppressed civil liberties unlawfully and systemically while countering with a smile and response saying, "No, but I was trying to keep the criminals out". In the same press conference he then claimed that the police should be allowed to investigate themselves. That is an outrage and no citizen of this country should find this behaviour acceptable.

During a press conference Mr. Blair displayed the cache of ‘weapons’(Globe’s report here). I fully admit I was laughing when I saw them but that laughter was tempered rather quickly when I realized the level of deceit the police chief was willing to go to in order to save face from the disaster you presided over. The most menacing weapons, the chainsaw and crossbow were utterly unrelated to the G20.

You specifically mentioned arrows tipped with socks that could be used in a medieval style flaming arrow tactic and chain mail. Actually no, you were again lying or at absolute best not subjecting this display to the most basic scrutiny because the outcome was more relevant than the truth. The arrows and chainmail were taken from a fantasy role player on his way to live action role playing. He cut the tips off and covered them with a pool-noodle and a sock. This wasn’t some grunt that put something in the wrong place. You explained what the arrows were supposedly used for.

You and your officers are either grossly incompetent, illiterate in that they couldn’t read the label on the evidence bag or overtly deceitful. Take your pick but I think you know my opinion. The fact the press caught this is nice but also raises the question; did you really not think that the press wouldn’t notice? I knew the crossbow was seized earlier and was unrelated. It made the news. Did you think that the very reporters who covered it would have forgotten in three days? The press should appear more formidable to politicians and police than that.

What happens if your internal investigation finds some real dirt? Perhaps the allegations of police sexually assaulting women are true. Maybe you or a lieutenant gave the order in writing to search everyone in the city regardless of reasonable cause, contrary to our laws. If that information is released there is a chance it could be a “public safety issue”. Maybe riots will start over it; the chance certainly is above zero. By the logic you have presented so far, basically “The ends justify the means” it would be very reasonable to assume you would try your damndest to have the information suppressed.

It goes without saying I denounce those who came to the city and committed violence. That is why we have police to stop criminals and protect the public. We also have something else called the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that exists to protect the public from internal threats. Threats from people like you. People who believe civil liberties are a great thing as long as it doesn’t interfere with security. We don’t have these beacons of freedom in our Constitution to allow someone to complain politely on the state’s terms. We have them so political expression cannot be stifled and a government can be deposed by education and peacefully at the ballot box when they no longer represent us, the people.

The fact that I am focusing on this issue, not the vandals in Toronto is purely a matter of incentives. You have every incentive to charge more people with crimes and the incentive to cover up the crimes committed by your officers. I have no doubt you will try your absolute hardest to bring justice down on the criminals. It is in your interest as well as mine.

Any time civil liberties are suppressed temporarily, and there may be times in the future where they need to be, it needs to be done at the federal government with full accountability. We have the War Measures Act. They will be forced to explain themselves to the people and we can decide whether they get to keep their jobs. It cannot, it must not, take place by an unelected official such as a police chief who has shown himself to be a chronic liar.

UPDATE: As a commenter mentioned Mr. Blair claimed that protesters disrupted repatriation ceremonies. Put up or shut up. This video showed silent protesters and police officers showing the respect our soldiers deserved. If there is evidence of the protesters disrespecting our war dead coming home I will be beyond angry. I believe it should be legal but legal doesn't mean morally right. It would be despicable.

On the other hand if Mr. Blair lied AGAIN, which appears to be the case, and used our fallen soldiers as an objects to his political games this man's convictions and beliefs should be categorized with the lowest rung of our society.

UPDATE II: There is allegations that protesters in black did move towards the repatriation ceremony. I am unsure at this point. My point still stands. I am basing this on available evidence and if any person reading this has more evidence I will gladly post it.

Friday, June 25, 2010


As most people around the world know the G8 and G20 summits are taking place this weekend in Ontario. There has been well over a billion dollars spent on security for this event. I'm not going to comment on that other than that I am quite confused how it can cost many tens of times more than security for other summits. I know it will be expensive and when you start talking in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars numbers don't mean very much.

Anyways that is a separate issue, what I am venting about the implementation of the Public Works Protection Act as well as parts of the act itself. The entire text can be found here but the relevant parts are as follows:

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

And the definition of public works is:

“public work” includes,

(a) any railway, canal, highway, bridge, power works including all property used for the generation, transformation, transmission, distribution or supply of hydraulic or electrical power, gas works, water works, public utility or other work, owned, operated or carried on by the Government of Ontario or by any board or commission thereof, or by any municipal corporation, public utility commission or by private enterprises,

(b) any provincial and any municipal public building, and

(c) any other building, place or work designated a public work by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. (“ouvrage public”) R.S.O. 1990, c. P.55, s. 1.

Some of this is rather non-controversial. I think most people would agree that a man with his face covered and a backpack on shouldn't be given free access to a municipal building or power station. The last sentence I quoted however I find rather shocking. It basically means that the Ontario government can declare any place in the province as being under this act and thereby waiving your rights to unreasonable search and seizure, your right to not have to identify yourself while walking on public property and curtailing your freedom of movement.

So now within 5 metres of the G20 fencing that is now dominating Toronto this act now applies where it did not before. In early June the Ontario government designated the 5m zone without making a public announcement. It is due to appear in writing July 3rd, after the summit, but available online now. This is ridiculous on a few counts. Secretly changing a law in how the public deals with police is counter-productive from every angle. A man was arrested after he refused to identify himself, the police apparently did tell him a new law was in force but frankly until police can get in serious trouble for lying there is very good reason to be skeptical of such claims. It should have been announced at least a month before so that lawyers will relay these changes to protesters and the public at large who ask and there should be signs on every fence declaring that your rights will be reduced if you are within the zone. Not doing this will create anger and fuel contempt against the police making their jobs harder.

Curtailing rights guaranteed to us by our Charter shouldn't be an issue taken lightly. The police chief said, correctly I may add, that this wasn't new legislation it was using the old Public Works Act. I'm not a lawyer and I won't comment on the legality of the entire act but frankly that is besides the point. What the province did was arbitrarily post a limit where our constitutional rights weaken. Of course we need to have limits on certain freedoms. But doing this in secret I consider to be abhorrent. How far could they have gone? Could they have said 10 or 20 metres? Entire streets? Neighbourhoods? This should have been a public matter and elected officials should have had to have their names behind it.

More arguments could be made for and against the morality and legality of what the legislature did but I think we should all say, with one voice, that we don't want our Charter Right's violated in secret in the name of a security threat. It is an old argument but very valid, if we blindly give up freedoms at the first sign of trouble we really don't have them.

I'm not here saying "police state Gestapo Nazi's are coming to arrest you if you disagree with Harper". If that were the case it would be a more clear-cut fight. Instead we have a more subtle creep of civil liberties being traded for 'security'. As a society we need authorities to be able to execute search warrants, arrest people with evidence, not smoking gun proof, but these infringements of personal freedom are done in the open with oversight. If we give police these sort of powers you have to expect they will use them to their fullest extent. As citizens we cannot count on discretion, especially when parts of the act allow the word of the police to be treated as fact under oath. Look at the newspaper, the RCMP officers (or at least some of them) are right now being accused of lying during the investigation of Robert Dziekanski's death. Police are people, they are generally good but they make mistakes and are now under psychological pressures and constant stress.

Bottom line, I find parts of this act very questionable but what really offends me is that this act is able to reduce our civil liberties and arrest people for expressing them, totally unaware of that change. I would like to blame it partly on incompetence in government but I don't think the evidence points that way. It points to a mob-mentality in police leadership who have been given a blank cheque in resources, both financial and in their conduct.

This doesn't come close North Korea or the former USSR but it is still so very wrong.

UPDATE: Here is a letter sent by the CCLA to Hon. Rick Bartolucci