No 33, Posted by guest Helga Wintal and fw, July 6, 2010
“Political urgencies come and go, but it`s fair enough vocation to strike one match after another against the dark isolation, when spectacular arrogance rules the day and tries to force hope into hiding.” Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonder
Today and yesterday my wife and I have sent the following email letters to three members of the Ontario legislature regarding the shocking revelations emerging about the Ontario government’s use of the Public Works Protection Act during the G20 Summit in Toronto, June 26-27, 2010.
We urge other Ontario citizens equally concerned about this violation of citizen rights to call their Liberal MPP to account, with a cc to Premier McGuinty.
Letter to Hon Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Economic Development and Trade
July 6, 2010
Dear Ms Pupatello,
As Windsor residents, and your constituents, we were very upset to read about the Ontario Liberal’s draconian and non-transparent use of the Public Works Protection Act to exercise virtual martial law during the G20 Conference in Toronto. (See, for example, Your Rights Can Disappear in a Snap – The Ontario Cabinet can impose something close to martial law without you even knowing)
Specifically, we are concerned that the Act was used for a purpose contrary to its original intent – it was never intended to impede peaceful demonstrators from exercising their democratic rights in public spaces. Furthermore, the use of the Act was overkill – police officers already have broad powers of arrest under the Criminal Code as well as powers under the Common Law to subject people to investigative detention if they believe they are connected to criminal activity. However, our most pressing concern is that Ontario Regulation 233/10, which designated a large swath of downtown Toronto as a “Public Work”, sets a dangerous precedent as it shows our government’s ability and willingness to suspend the Charter rights of its citizens without challenge and debate.
The Saturday Globe’s editorial (June 26, 2010) provides this succinct assessment:
“Police in Canada don’t typically have the right to stop people and demand their name and address, and an explanation of their purpose in being there, as they do under the Public Works Protection Act invoked for the summit. (What public works are being protected here, by the way?) Police don’t have an automatic right to search people and their vehicles, to refuse permission for them to enter an area and use force to stop them. People can’t usually be sentenced to two months in jail for failing to abide by these otherwise non-existent duties. An increased need for security at international summits isn’t enough to justify these rules; the right to expression needs protection, too, when the world’s leaders are at hand”.
We also agree with the Globe’s assessment that “The secrecy is nearly as bad as the substance.” Specifically, Cabinet used its regulation-making authority (“The Lieutenant-Governor in Council”) to quietly make Regulation 233/10 on June 2, 2010. It was filed on June 14, 2010, published on e-Laws on June 16, 2010 and printed in the Ontario Gazette on July 3, 2010, several days after the regulation was revoked (June 28, 2010). A cynic would argue that this last-minute activity was designed to avoid debate and prevent a court application to attempt to have the regulation struck down.
Why has the Liberal Party breached the civil rights of Ontarians in this secretive and despicable manner? As our elected official, we invite you to meet with us in Windsor at your earliest convenience to get your full explanation and assurance that our government will NOT resort to this legislation in future, which effectively curtails the Charter rights and freedoms of its citizens.
We eagerly await your timely response to our invitation.
Helga Wintal & Frank White
Letter to Andrea Horwath, MPP (Hamilton Centre), Leader, New Democratic Party of Ontario
July 5, 2010
Dear Andrea Horwath,
My wife and I were pleasantly surprised to find your open letter to Premier McGuinty regarding the Ontario Liberal’s non-transparent use of the Public Works Protection Act to exercise virtual martial law during the G20 Conference in Toronto. (See, for example, Your Rights Can Disappear in a Snap – The Ontario Cabinet can impose something close to martial law without you even knowing)
We trust that you will continue to aggressively pursue this matter in behalf of all Ontarians, urging a full independent inquiry into the actions of police during the G20, as called for by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s petition for action. (See http://ccla.org/)
We have also sent a letter to Tim Hudak asking why he has been so slow to react to this grave matter. And we are in the process of composing a strong letter of protest to our MPP, Sandra Pupatello, demanding that she account to us for the irresponsible and secretive behaviour of Cabinet.
Letter to Tim Hudak, MPP (Niagara West — Glanbrook), Leader, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
July 5, 2010
Dear Tim Hudak
Why has the Ontario PC party been so slow to react to the Liberal’s non-transparent use of the Public Works Protection Act to exercise virtual martial law during the G20 Conference in Toronto?
Why are you not aggressively defending and protecting the civil rights of Ontarians?