Ontario premier refuses to discuss new police powers
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty refused to comment Saturday on a controversial amendment to the Public Works Protection Act, which gives police new powers to question and search people who get close to the G20 security perimeter.
The new regulation temporarily alters the Act to designate the entire security perimeter surrounding the Metro Toronto Convention Centre as a "public works" site during the summit. The Act usually covers provincial and municipal buildings, as well as public utilities.
Under the extension, police are allowed to ask anyone within five metres of the perimeter to identify him- or herself or be searched.
CTV Toronto reporter Paul Bliss asked McGuinty about the new measures as the premier was shaking hands along a receiving line during a tour of a Bombardier plant in North York Saturday morning. McGuinty was touring the plant with Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is in the city for the G20 summit.
When Bliss asked the premier if he could talk to him about the new measures, the premier would only say "not right now, not right now," as he continued along the receiving line.
The amendment took effect last Monday and is to be revoked on June 28, the day after the summit closes. Anyone convicted under the amendment can face either two months in jail or a $500 maximum fine.
News of the new police powers was met with sharp criticism from various groups, particularly because the regulations were passed in secret earlier this month. They were passed using what is called a "covering" order-in-council and were not debated in the legislature.
The law appeared on the province's e-Law website last week, but won't be officially published until July 3 -- by which time, the regulation will have expired.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said in a media statement that it "is obviously extremely concerned about the implications of this measure" and says it will seek to challenge the regulation.
NDP MPP Peter Kormos said the passing of the regulations "should be very disturbing to all Canadians."
Toronto police Chief Bill Blair defended the law Friday, saying it was published online June 16 and gives police clear guidelines to diffuse any threats from protesters.