TORONTO — The McGuinty Liberal government secretly passed a law giving police sweeping new powers for the duration of the G8 and G20 summits.
The law gives police the power to jail anyone who refuses to furnish identification and submit to a search while within five metres of a designated security zone in downtown Toronto.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said it was “extremely concerned” about the measures which, according to the group, violate constitutional safeguards. In a statement, the group said it intends to challenge the law.
On Thursday, a 32-year-old man was arrested in downtown Toronto for failing to show police ID. Until his arrest, the new law was not publicized.
After enquiries by journalists, the provincial government said it quietly granted police the extraordinary measures June 2nd, while the legislature was still in session.
Instead of tabling the law in the legislature, however, the government granted the sweeping new powers by order in council.
They took effect Monday and will remain in place until Monday, June 28th.
“This is a disgrace,” said Conservative MPP Garfield Dunlop. “We were sitting in the legislature when this happened… We had lots of time to debate this stuff. A spokeswoman for Premier Dalton McGuinty refused to comment on the government’s decision Friday.
She referred media inquiries to community safety minister Rick Bartolucci.
The Group of Eight Industrialized nations are meeting Friday at a quiet resort in Huntsville, about two and a half hours north of Toronto. On Saturday, those leaders will join an expanded, two-day G20 summit in downtown Toronto.
The summit ends Sunday.
An estimated 12,000 police officers from across the country have been deployed to Toronto and Huntsville to patrol the two summit locations. A three-metre fence set in concrete was also erected around a secure zone that ensconces much of the city’s financial district.
Security will cost an estimated $1 billion.