Along with terrorism and rioting, the security forces at the G20 hosted in Toronto in 2010 were to quell anything that may cause embarrassment to the Conservative government. The documents seem to leave it to police to decide what might cause embarrassment.
Apparently the Harper government did not foresee that the embarrassment would come from police actions and government spending decisions.
The newly accessed documents also show that in the planning stages, security forces assumed that there may be threats, but the majority of protests – up to 90 percent – would be peaceful. Why then did police react to protesters, passers-by and journalists with excessive force?
A review of police actions during the G20 released by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) found that officers ignored the Charter rights of protesters and acted unlawfully while blindly following orders.
Ontario’s police complaints watchdog has recommended charges of misconduct against 31 officers for their actions during the summit weekend.
Police allowed a group wearing black masks over their faces to take over Toronto’s downtown, smashing windows and vandalizing buildings. The two and a half hour rampage led to the order that officers ‘take back the streets,’ which the OIPRD report found might have been the main cause of the kettling strategy.
Did the police not think violating the civil rights of the protesters and having people around the world watch the kettling incident on June 27 live through social networks might embarrass Canada in front of the ‘great eight?’ Protesters mixed with bystanders and media at the intersection of Queen St. and Spadina Ave. and police began boxing them in at all sides. In the pouring rain, people were pulled out of the crowd randomly, one by one, and taken away. This went on for more than four hours with almost no communcation between the police and the people inside the kettle.
On the government side, the Prime Minister and two of his Ministers, John Baird and Tony Clement, have had to answer for the misspending of $45.7 million in Clement’s riding of Parry Sound–Muskoka. The riding was to be the original site for the G8 until security concerns prompted officials to move it to Toronto where the G20 was already scheduled.
The money was to be spent on accommodations associated with the summit, but the 32 projects that got funding from the s0-called G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund included a gazebo miles away from the summit site and expansions to a local community center.
A government that misspends in the middle of an economic downturn and allows officers to detain groups of people for hours in the rain with no explanation and no cause? That’s embarrassing.
Photo Credit: James Schwartz