Secret documents and what they mean for democracy

g20-police-power.jpgPolice at the G20 summit have been granted special arrest powers. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

By Bob Dunkin, G20 citizen blogger

bob52.jpgLast night we all found out about the sweeping new powers of arrest granted to police officers, security guards and the military. These were apparently given during a secret cabinet meeting in early June, became enforceable June 21 and will finish by June 28. It won't be 'public knowledge' until July 3, when the new regulations are published provincewide.

This is an end run around our rights, and NO ONE should stand for it.

To put it mildly, I'd likely be arrested if I didn't know about this change. Why ... because I knew what my rights were beforehand. This throws all of that out the window. Don't kid yourself. This had to be the plan all along. What better way to control the crowd than a secret document that gives officials the discretion to arrest everyone.  

The language used ("satisfy" the "guard") is too vague. I LIVE here. The only way I have to prove it (since I don't drive, and therefore do not have a driver's licence with my address) is to carry a piece of mail with me (plus ID). I hope this is 'satisfactory' to the officers.  

If this hadn't come to light before the majority of the protests, I think we would have been in for MANY more arrests. Hopefully this information is being disseminated to all interested parties, like it SHOULD have been done by the province. To put it mildly, all changes to law (which this is) have to be made public before said law takes effect.  

"Ignorance of the law" is no excuse. Well, YOU made us ignorant of it by not making it public. 

There were a few concerns I had before this summit started. Security guards brought into this province were not licensed (neither was the company) to work in Ontario. The requirement for that came into effect last year I believe. With this regulation, they don't need to be. In fact, they seem to have more power than Ontario-licensed security guards.  Also, the use of the military as 'police' officers - only Military Police are considered peace officers here ... so, this regulation also seems to skirt that too.

This is not good for democracy. I encourage all of you to write or call to your MPP. Explain to them why this should not be acceptable in a democratic society. This is NOT a 'public work'... this is an EVENT.  If I can't apply for this for a block party, you shouldn't be able to either. This is Canada, you can't secretly change something and not tell anyone about it when it affects their day-to-day lives. This is one aspect of the summit that should not go quietly into that good night. This needs to be fixed. Something that can be done is to change the language of the act so that it's much less vague. Keep this an issue, since it seems this can be done at will for no good reason.    

Part 2 to follow.