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A police officer peers out through a locked gate inside the perimeter fence leading to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre G20 Summit site in Toronto June 26, 2010. (MIKE CASSESE/MIKE CASSESE/REUTERS)
A police officer peers out through a locked gate inside the perimeter fence leading to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre G20 Summit site in Toronto June 26, 2010. (MIKE CASSESE/MIKE CASSESE/REUTERS)

Ontario ombudsman to probe G20 law Add to ...

Ombudsman André Marin announced on Friday that his office is launching an investigation into sweeping new powers for police secretly approved by the McGuinty government.

The controversial rules allowed police to question and potentially arrest anyone near the security zone for the G20 summit in Toronto who refused to produce identification or be searched.

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Mr. Marin said his office will probe the origin and subsequent communication of the sweeping changes to civil liberties in downtown Toronto, passed by the province prior to the June 26-27 G20 summit.

His office has received 22 complaints relating to the G20, including several alleging that a lack of transparency and public communication about the regulation led to an atmosphere of secrecy and confusion and contributed to violations of civil liberties.

"The complaints we've received so far raise serious concerns about this regulation and the way it was communicated, and I think there is a very strong public interest in finding out exactly what happened and how that affected the rest of the events of the G20 weekend," Mr. Marin said in a news release.

In his first comments to the media this week about the regulation, Premier Dalton McGuinty acknowledged that his government could have done a better job to clear up confusion surrounding it.

His government has come under criticism from civil liberties experts and opposition members for failing to tell people that their rights had changed.

New Democratic Party justice critic has said: "This law was not only passed in secret, it was kept secret."

The law was approved June 2 through an order-in-council, with no debate in the legislature. The regulatory amendment was quietly posted June 16 on the government's e-laws website. It came to light only after a York University student was held for five hours on June 25 for refusing to show identification near the security fence.

Mr. Marin said his office expects to complete its investigation within 90 days.

He is inviting anyone who has a complaint or relevant information to call 1-800-263-1830 during business hours or complete an online complaint form at www.ombudsman.on.ca .

 

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