Chief admits 5-metre G20 security rule didn't exist
Toronto's police chief is admitting there never was a five-metre rule that had people fearing arrest if they strayed too close to the G20 security perimeter.
Civil libertarians were fuming after hearing Friday that the Ontario cabinet gave police the power to stop and search anyone coming within five metres of the G20 fences in Toronto for a one-week period.
However, the Ministry of Community Safety says all the cabinet did was update the law that governs entry to such places as court houses to include specific areas inside the G20 fences — not outside.
A ministry spokeswoman says the change was about property, not police powers, and did not include any mention of a zone five metres outside the G20 security perimeter.
When asked Tuesday if there actually was a five-metre rule given the ministry's clarification, Chief Bill Blair smiled and said, "No, but I was trying to keep the criminals out."
Premier Dalton McGuinty still hasn't explained why cabinet passed the regulation change in secret, and then kept it secret.
Even though it wasn't accurate, the public was left to believe the province had given officers the power to demand identification and detain anyone within five metres of the G20 site.
All weekend there were reports of police stopping people throughout downtown Toronto — often in areas nowhere near the G20 zone — demanding identification and to search bags and backpacks.