Sunday, December 12, 2010

To protect and shield their wrongdoings?

by CY                                                                                                                                  
Over the past six months, I talked with some people who either oppose or support the actions of our police forces during the G20 summits. While I didn’t participate in any of the G20 demonstrations, I am saddened and disappointed that our police force is given the power to harass and, in a few cases, cowardly beat people, such as Adam Nobody, for simply congregating in a public setting like Queen’s Park.  While politicians and our police force are quick to condemn and arrest the people responsible for the vandalism that took place during the G20 summits, none of the complaints filed against officers who allegedly used excessive force during the weekend on June 26, 2010 have resulted in any charges, let alone criminal convictions. i

No one wants to live in a country controlled by gang leaders or criminals. Our police forces play an important role in ensuring our security. However, abuse of power is abuse of power, whether the perpetrator is a police officer, a government official, or a protestor. I don’t want to live in a society where young people can be harassed, beaten or criminalized simply because some of them, wisely or not, decided to exercise their constitutional right to protest.  In Canada, young people are constantly being told about the value of living in a democracy while recent events have exposed the true coercive nature of state power; that police officers are often treated as above the law right here at home.

According to the report entitled A Breach of the Peace, released from the Canadian Civil Liberty Association, riot police targeted and in some cases, physically abused, some of the demonstrators and innocent bystanders at Queen’s Park, a designated protest area. [ii]While it is understandable to establish high-end security to protect our world leaders, it is a fear-mongering tactic and a trait of a police state to put the entire downtown area into a security lockdown. Even though police officers have every right to stop people from committing property damage, they do not have the right to remove their identification badges in order to anonymously intimidate, harass, or physically force people from exercising their right to peaceful assembly, especially in an area designated as a demonstration site.  [iii]

Under our laws, the Canadian government as well as the Ontario government is ultimately responsible for the actions of our police force during the G20 summits. Six months after the G20 summits, the Liberal Ontario government still refused to apologize for its role in enabling the abuse of power despite the “mass violation of civil rights”, or the secret regulation (Regulation 233/10) issued by the Ontario government to drastically expand police power to arrest, search and detain without any legislative vote or publication. [iv]

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed his dismay at the “few thugs” responsible for smashing window during the G20 protests, his government is silent on the loss of civil liberties and abuse of police power during the G20 summit.  [v]Federal public safety minister Vic Toews denied having anything to do with the secretive new police power during the G20 summits even though they are responsible for spending a billion dollar on security for the G20 summits.[vi] Just recently, Tom Flanagan, a former campaign manager for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, openly suggested that Wikileak founder Julian Assange should be assassinated. How can we trust our government when one of its advisors is advocating the murder of a man because he distributed information public to the general public?[vii] Last but not least, Mayor Rob Ford is completely supportive of the actions of the police officers and their "aggressive measure to get the situation under control” while Toronto’s deputy mayor, Doug Holyday stated, “We should be paying more attention to the vandals and thugs who tried to wreck our city.”[viii][ix]

After six months of investigation by the Special Investigation Unit, an Ontario’s civilian police watchdog, and intense media attention from the Toronto Star, five officers have finally been identified in the beating of Adam Nobody during his June 25 arrest at Queen’s Park.
[x] Although our police force is quick and decisive in arresting several people responsible for violence and vandalism during the summits of world leaders, the SIU has been unable to lay a single charge against any police officers for injuries to civilians during the G20 protests. [xi]

 Unfortunately, SIU is often seen as a “toothless tiger and muzzled watchdog” as it does not have the power to require police officers to submit to questioning. A review from the Ontario’s Ombudsman has deemed the SIU for being timid when it comes to investigating the misconduct of police officers. [xii] 

Until recently, I have always thought all citizens are equal and are given the same rights and protection, and that the rights of a protestor and a citizen are just as important as the right of a taxpayer. However, I am increasingly becoming cynical about today’s politics because of the lack of mechanisms to prosecute the criminal actions of police officers, as well as our mayor’s replacement of the word “citizens” with “taxpayers” when referring to Torontonians.[xiii] No one should be surprised if young people, particularly the many who are hurt during the G20 protests, as well those with little or no taxable income are turned off from politics and the usual rhetoric of justice, equality and democracy from our supposedly honorable political leaders.

[i] Dimanno, Rosie. (2010, December 9). DiManno: More needed than ‘glib’ answer on G20
The Toronto Star Retrieved from
[ii] A Preliminary Report on observation during the 2010 G20 Summit  (2010, June 29). Canadian Civil Liberties Association Retrieved from
[iv] Marin, Andre. (December 2010)“Caught in the Act” Ombudsman of Ontario 64-65 Retrieved from
[v]Campion-Smith, Joanna Smith and Richard J. Brennan (2010, June 27) Thugs justify huge summit security tab, Stephen Harper says Retrieved from
[vi] No Author (2010, December 8) Toews denies role in G20 police law CBC News Retrieved from
[vii] No Author. (2010, December 4) US embassy cables: Wiki witch hunt, Retrieved from
[viii] Warmington, Joe. (2010, December 9) Police chief one of the Untouchables The Toronto Sun Retrieved from
[ix]Ford, Rob. (2010, June 26) G20 Protesters and Destruction Unacceptable: Ford. Ford for Mayor Retrieved from
[x] Kraus, Krystalline (2010, December 11) Activist Communique: Adam Nobody vs the Toronto Police retrieved from
[xi] Morrow, Adrian.  (2010, November 29) G20 police won’t face criminal charges Globe and Mail Retrieved from
[xii] Leblanc, Daniel and Bill Curry (December 11, 2010) Ontario police watchdog under investigation Globe and Mail Retrieved from
[xii] Amenta, Salvatore (December 10,2010) New low in public discourse. The Toronto Star Retrieved from