G20 security regulation faces challenge

An Ontario law that temporarily allows police to arrest anyone who fails to show identification on request near the G20 security fence is being challenged.

A new Ontario regulation that temporarily allows police to arrest anyone who fails to show identification on request near the G20 security fence in Toronto faces a court challenge.

Dave Vasey, 31, who was arrested under the new regulation on Thursday, announced that he is filing a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of "this dangerous police-state law."

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"I intend to ask the courts to uphold our civil rights," he said Friday night at Allan Gardens in Toronto, where protesters had set up a tent city.

His lawyer Howard Morton told the Toronto Star that the law "clearly violates" the section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees freedom of assembly and the freedom of communication.

Vasey said he takes his rights seriously, so he got legal advice in advance about what kind of protest is allowed under Canadian law.

"And I believed at all times that I was acting legally."

On Thursday, Vasey was stopped by police near the security fence encircling part of the downtown core known as the "red zone," close to where world leaders are meeting.

Didn't know about law

He was asked for identification and when he failed to produce it, he was detained under a new regulation added to the Public Works Protection Act — one he says he didn't know existed. Vasey was subsequently detained for five hours and charged with refusing a request of a peace officer.

The new regulation was passed quietly by the Ontario cabinet on June 2 without debate, and remains in effect until Monday. Under it, anyone who comes within five metres of the security area is obliged to give police their name and state the purpose of their visit on request.

Anyone who fails to provide identification or explain why they are near the security zone can be searched and arrested. Penalties include up to two months in jail and a $500 fine.

Vasey said the law "came out of nowhere" and "lets the police throw people in jail for almost nothing."

However, Community Safety Minister Rick Bartolucci has said there was "nothing secret" about the law and the normal process for passing new regulations was followed.

As of 10 a.m. ET Saturday, there had been 32 arrests and 51 charges laid in connection to the G20 since June 18. Police have not released details about the charges.

With files from The Canadian Press