G20 brings selective enforcement of little-known Canadian legal powers

June 29, 2010
By Tracy R Twyman

The G20 meeting took place in Toronto this last week, and, as usual, it was the protesting outside, and the police response to it, not the Machiavellian intrigue within, that created all the controversy. Charlie Veitch of the British activist group The Love Police made headlines when he was arrested for failing to show ID when questioned by an officer. This was newsworthy because it revealed a law passed by the Ontario legislature that the people of the province were completely unaware of.

The Ottowa Citizen reports that the law was passed specifically for the time period surrounding the G8 and G20 summits in Toronto, and allows the police to place in jail anyone who “refuses to furnish identification and submit to a search within five metres of a designated security zone.” The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has expressed concern that the new law violates the Canadian constitution, which they say guarantees a citizen’s right to remain silent and withhold identification unless he or she is already being arrested for some other reason. The group plans to challenge the law in court, but in the meantime, Community Safety Minister Rick Bartolucci was quoted as saying, “You’ve got a choice. You can comply. You can refuse. If you refuse, then you will have to leave.”

  • But that’s not the only little-known detail of Canadian law that’s suddenly being utilized for the G20. Luke Rudowski of the activist group We Are Change has reportedly been banned from entering Canada entirely for the next ten years, along with one of his colleagues, and representatives of both Code Pink and Chicago Indymedia. It seems that Canadian border patrol has the right, at their own discretion, to bar from entry any person they find in the American FBI database with criminal convictions. In this case, all of those involved had criminal records due to being arrested at previous protests. Raw Story reports that the selective exercise of this rarely-used privilege shows that the Canadian government is strategically aiming to block the alternative media from covering the controversial summit.

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