06.28.2010 10:17 PM

O Canada: G20 stories, questions and silence

I’m a Liberal, and I have always been pretty pro-police.  But stories like these are simply too numerous, and too detailed, to now be simply dismissed as false.  They need to be fully investigated.

The federal Opposition parties – including the one for which I used to work – have apparently said nothing about the disturbing events of this past weekend. None of them, we’re told, have called for an investigation – or even raised a question.

I’ve looked all over Google for something, anything, that one of them has said about The Battle of Toronto.  I’ve found nothing.  (If you can find something substantive, send it along, and I will post it.)

Why? Why haven’t they called for some sort of a probe, to determine if these allegations are true?  Whether you are pro-police, or pro-protestor, you have to agree that we have a collective obligation to determine the truth. Both citizens and police officers – whose constitutional rights and reputations, respectively, may be on the line – need to know what really happened.  The rule of law, in fact, demands it.

As a long-time federal Liberal, I would hope that my party will now start asking some questions that need to be asked.

UPDATE: Via Twitter, Parliamentary Press Gallery journalist Juliet O’Neill kindly referred me to this, from the NDP. Much appreciated.  Anything from the Liberals, yet?

UPPERDATE: The Liberals, represented by Bob Rae, will be speaking about this issue live on The Mark at 11 a.m.  Good stuff.  Better late than never.

48 Comments

  1. Do not forget to ask questions of the Ontario government as well as out federal government.I suspect that the fault lies in both places.
    How far should the police go to maintain order???Good question??

  2. Blair Shumlich says:

    The police absolutely can’t win in this situation. How do you control and protect all of Toronto? They are simultaneously being criticized for being too relaxed and too aggressive.

    I would like someone to find me a *SINGLE* situation where mass protesting occurred and the police came out looking anything less than villains.

    Their nerves must be absolutely shot right now. I feel really bad for them.

    That said, some civil rights have definitely been violated. I just don’t think there is any way for the police to win this.

    • Peaceful mass protest? They happen all the time, and in my experience here in Vancouver the police are much more likely to assist you in pulling off a peaceful, safe, protest than oppose you.

      My most direct experience: I helped organize a protest march and rally against David Emerson’s 2006 post-election defection to the Harper bench. We had over nine hundred folks occupying three lanes of one of Vancouver’s busiest streets for about 2 kilometres. Not even a skinned knee. The police were fantastic – they had just enough members response to ensure we were safe from traffic.

      On the other hand, during that same period of time in 2006 there were RCMP folks sniffing around trying to determine just what sorts of folks we were. At one protest it became clear that one RCMP agent who I’d noted at other locations appeared to have control or influence over the local police present and I’d say *some* of the local police were decidedly less cordial at that occasion. I remember the day well – it was raining heavily, Emerson had been ducking us for weeks, and the gaggle of mostly grey haired democracy fans that we’d assembled found it quite humorous that the RCMP were checking up on us as if we were a real threat to anyone.

      In Toronto did a minority of malcontents ruin it for the majority of peaceful protesters? It seems this is partly true. It also seems that some of the trouble makers have become chameleons through changes of clothing and behaviour. Surely the police in many cases had a difficult job. But reports of police going beyond the line of security and common sense appear to be so widespread and not confined to any particular period of time or location during the G20 that an investigation is warranted.

      I’m *very* pro-police but also very pro-freedom of expression. I’ve no doubt that the police will do some things when asked by the government of the day that they might not ordinarily do on their own accord. Who asked what of whom for the G20?

      • As for the leaders of the NDP, Liberals, Green and Bloc Quebecois remaining absolutely silent on the <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aohGLp00MmU&feature=youtu.be"events of the last few days, what else can we say but shame!

        Emerson called those who opposed him “locusts” and Harper called us insignificant. That’s what the Conservative leadership thinks of regular Canadians.

      • Steve Paikin with one of the stories of the G20, this one a long one from a professor at U of T:

        So, whatever you see on the news, and whatever the ?official story? is after this is over, please don?t think that this was a bunch of hoodlums, who provoked the police somehow. That is absolutely impossible. As an ?interested observer,? I didn?t want to be too far away or otherwise just miss the action and not know what was going on, so I made sure to stay right at the front, near or amidst the actual protesters, so that if anything out of the ordinary happened, any protesters getting violent or provoking the police, I would see it…

        Worth a read of the entire piece.

    • PolyGon says:

      I think you’re right that the police can’t win, but the absence of any investigation will mean no opportunity to gain back face. An investigation might identify a particularly over-zealous protocol and particular members issuing/actively encouraging overly aggressive behaviour. Those protocols and members can then be criticized, and the force in general “cleansed.” No investigation means everyone is left with the taste in their mouth that the police generally enjoy too much power and they don’t respect the law they defend.

      Summit security has a stained history as is. The “Fake Black Bloc” agent provocateur at Montebello, the London police at last year’s G20 who removed their ID numbers from their jackets before assaulting complete innocents …. these images accumulate in the public mind. It’s not just the bad behaviour, it’s something that I think contributes to a general public malaise and mistrust of public institutions overall.

      For the police to win, they need to be transparent and self-critical. They need to be able to hold up tangible examples of how they’ve protected demonstrators’ right to free assembly as well as how they’ve protected the summiteers’ right to security. It shouldn’t be so hard for “law and order” to win our undivided support, should it?

    • Namesake says:

      re: [name] “a *SINGLE* situation where mass protesting occurred and the police came out looking anything less than villains”

      – well, there’s the annual “Winnipeg Walk for Peace,” 29 years & counting. Altho’ it’s petered out to a shadow of itself, there were literally tens of thousands walking the major streets & assembling (er, for a free concert) in the early 80s, w. no major incidents or police villainy, perceived or otherwise.

      But then again, these were all policed by local cops, who don’t have the RCMP’s now politicized “Don’t let the federal gov’t be embarrassed” mandate, & can distinguish the peaceful demonstrators, passers-by, lookie-loos, & “geez, we just came downtown for lunch or some other attraction, you stupid goons” …unlike the cowardly, bullying, taser-happy horsemen.

      • scanner says:

        I was one of thousands who went to Dundas Square last winter to protest against the Proroguing of Parliament. Not only were the Police helpful, it appeared they went beyond their mandate to make the march trouble free and successful and, although I remember trouble long ago at the first Pride events in Toronto, the police have been exemplary in recent years. Honestly, I smell Provincial and Federal interference with the local cops – this over-reaction is more the style of the RCMP or the old Hold Up Squad, in which Julian Fantino had a part.

  3. Jan says:

    None of the opposition leaders seem to have – perhaps they’re cramming in a week of holiday time before the dreaded BBQ season starts.

    • Jan says:

      Turns out Iggy is in Scotland attending his daughter’s university graduation.
      And then meeting with that ‘loser’ Clegg. The nerve.

  4. Namesake says:

    This is another stain on the RCMP, too: weren’t most of the extra security detail RCMP brought in from elsewhere… likely volunteering for the gig, possibly self-selecting on the basis of their “Damn hippies!” views? Many of whom were disgusted by having to play nice for most of Saturday, & who unleashed their inner goons as soon as they got the green light? They’re just as bad as the rent-a-thugs allegedly brought in from QC for these things.

  5. James says:

    I don’t understand people who hold the opinion of Blair above.

    Talk about the specific issue: women in the detention centre’s were strip-searched by male guards, hooted at, some threatened with bodily harm, some forced to urinate in front of officers, etc.

    Don’t you people understand? You have created 1000 radicals this weekend.

    • If allegatios are proven,severe penelties should result.If allegations are proven false,James should issue public apology on this blog……and perhaps in the Toronto Star,as well.
      Lets get Dalton on this,right away.

    • The Other Jim says:

      Women in the detention centre were ALLEGEDLY strip-searched by male guards, ALLEGEDLY hooted at, ALLEGEDLY threatened with bodily harm, ALLEGEDLY forced to urinate in front of officers, etc.

      There are certainly some disturbing allegations, and some of those allegations come from credible sources. Many of the allegations, however, come from less than credible sources with clear axes to grind. All should be investigated in an impartial manner. You don’t do yourself, or anyone here, any favours by treating the most extreme allegations as absolute facts.

      • Warren says:

        Who is suggesting they are “absolute facts?” Do you know the facts? I don’t. Why don’t we get the facts?

        • Warren you state in ,another blog,that you have sources of information in Dalton’s government.We(of course) do not.
          Yes,we certainly need(and could use) the facts.
          Would you please use your contacts(and influence) to source these facts out?

        • The Other Jim says:

          James certainly appears to be stating the allegations as facts. I’m not sure how you could read his words and think otherwise. My response was to his note above, not your original posting.

          I am in complete agreement with you – lets investigate and get the facts, but lets also be circumspect as to the source and credibility of some of the allegations.

  6. Vankleek Hill says:

    For comic relief, listen to these twits cry police brutality:

    http://www.fivefeetoffury.com/:entry:fivefeet-2010-06-27-0002/

  7. Andrew says:

    Is it the same silence that occured when the Mounties pepper sprayed protestors at the APEC Summit in 1997?

    • Warren says:

      Sorry, what’s your point? As I recall, there was a full inquiry after that event.

      Perhaps you and your fellow Conservatives can demand one for Toronto’s summit.

      • Cath says:

        The very first poster on this subject Warren suggested that the Ontario gov’t needs to be included in an investigation. Correct me if I’m wrong but most media are suggesting that the new force of the police came from the sweeping powers put in place by McGuinty? I do believe that Dalton needs to explain to Torontonians why he did what he did. Seems fair. That the federal Liberals haven’t said squat may have something to do with not going against the provincial government’s actions?

        What really should annoy people though is the silence of all MPs and MPPs who hold ridings in Toronto. I wouldn’t be voting those folks back in.

        If you have a minute Steve Pakin has an excellent piece in the Ottawa Citizen this morning that’s worth a look.

      • Andrew says:

        Sorry to disappoint but I am not a Conservative but a card carrying Laurier Club member. My point is that there was silence from nearly all politicians when the incident at APEC happened. In fact our PM at the time joked about it. I think that was a dark day for democracy. From what I remembered an inquiry wasn’t called until the media (mainly the CBC?) took hold of the story and the public (me included) started to feel uncomfortable about the incident. I think that the same process will happen with events surrounding the G20.

  8. Mike says:

    It’s like a scene in the action movie. The one you don’t believe. You rewind and play it again. It’s true then. The director is a pervert.

  9. Sean says:

    Ignatieff will have to hold several thinkers conferences to determine whether or not the riots were bad. Then he’ll take a stand which will confuse the nation and divide his own caucus. The Tories will snap off zinger sound bytes about how they got a lot done while staring down violent opposition.

  10. MP says:

    Right now I would settle for an explanation from Dalton as to why he suspended the civil rights of Torontonians in secret. I was out of the contry this weekend and shocked when I read about this. Not sure I recognize the Canada to which I’ve returned.

  11. Catherine says:

    I respect the opposition leaders, all political stripes, for allowing the Queen to be welcomed on our soil before examining the dust bin.

    It allows the dust to settle, the stories to come forward, and a general airing to happen.

    Listening is an important part of leadership. And allowing those involved to defend their actions.

    • Catherine, I do not respect the “leaders” for remaining silent over the past 96 hours nor for allowing the arrival of the Queen to take over part of the news cycle. She’s a big girl and can handle herself. The Brits have her full time and *they* don’t stop diving into important issues every time the royals move from point A to point B.

      The “leaders” should have been asking questions and demanding answers from the start. When “leaders” are silent because they are fearful they’ll be out-spun, what, really, are they good for?

      There are plenty of questions that needed to be asked often enough and loudly enough early on and certainly right the heck now in order to force the sort of inquiry required. Asking questions does not force one into making wild and unfounded accusations. Apparently the “leaders” have not noticed there was ample fodder for them to chew on right from the start.

      As Sean below notes, summertime is another distraction that may take much needed attention away from this mess to no one’s benefit. Another little matter called a plunging stock market and renewed fear over the Euroland countries and currency may likewise provide another distraction useful to the government, and provides that ballot question I submitted in days gone by.

  12. A lot of questions need to be asked and they likely won’t be since it’s the start of summer and this will probably be forgotten within the next three weeks. For me there are two issues of concern: why the hell do this in Toronto in the first place since everyone knows that professional @#$ disturbers flock to these summits, and why wasn’t there a peep from the media about the Ontario government secret passing of legislation that extended police powers??? Was the media asleep at the switch????

  13. Phil says:

    Catherine – that would be graceful and proper – I only hope you’re right, but it’s a faint hope at best.

  14. Rick T. says:

    Your damn if you do and your damn if you don’t.

    Yes Warren let’s spend more tax payers dollars on a useless inquiry. Have we not spent enough already?

    • Robin says:

      The Reformatories have spent over a BILLION dollars making the elite comfortable, why not a little for the ones that paid for their weekend of luxury? Or would you prefer the Cons spending us into a police state?

      Don’t worry Rick, you can sit back at home while the brave fight for your rights, even if you prefer to live the life your political masters want you to live.

  15. mark says:

    When all you have is a hammer the whole world looks like a nail. Harper arranged for a very big hammer to occupy the city this weekend. All citizens were suspect and it’s clear that abuse was widespread. Where we should have had peaceful protests and crowd control we now have vandals and cops with roughly the same agenda, wreaking havoc! It sickens me that this happens here.

    • Namesake says:

      Nope: nothing to see here, folks…. They didn’t ask, and he didn’t tell. In fact, since it started 20 min’s late, I’m thinking maybe Bob spelled out what he was & was not authorized or willing to talk about.

      Nothing about the police response. Here’s the only thing direct thing about the protests:

      AdamChapnick: …Many have suggested that the violence of the few obscured whatever message the more peaceful protestors had been trying to bring to Canadians, and others, over the weekend. As a veteran of domestic and international politics speaking to an audience of politically engaged Canadians, what tacics would you recommend to non-governmental representatives seeking to effect real change at an international summit? Is protest the way to go? Is there a partiular type of protest that works best to capture the leaders’ attention? As there another / a better way?
      Tuesday June 29, 2010 12:07 AdamChapnick
      12:15

      Bob Rae:
      Well I think the first thing is that the violence obviously discredits the notion of protest and I think it’s a very deliberate tactic by those who think that violence is a good idea, or that the destruction of property is a good idea. It’s an obvious tactic to try to get a reaction from the police. And I think that the one thing the NGO community should be doing, should have been done much sooner as the preparations of the event were ongoing, was to do everything they could to separate themselves from those doing the violent destruction of property. And I think that if you’re trying to help world poverty than I think you have to say that I don’t want to be associated with those who are practicing violent destruction. And the other thing is that people have to recognize that it’s inevitable that the very acts of vandalism colour the public’s impression of protests in general.

  16. Marc says:

    I expect it’s another disappointing case of the opposition being scared into silence. Mr. Law & Order or one of his puppets will snap off a snarky one-liner, and they’ll start playing the “Liberals are soft on crime” TV attack ads, which are surely queued up and ready to go.

  17. Dell Carver says:

    Check out my last three posts on this subject, following CBC The National’s Sunday evening report my posts suggest the real reason behind what Harper has done.

  18. Riley Hennessey says:

    Warren,

    Would you please make the same request that participating protest organizations and union officials launch a joint review of their own actions and what lead to the violence?

    I think its certainly pertinent for the Police to conduct a review, but I’d also like to see the union officials and protest organizations get together to critically think about what they did/participated in, and how to best diminish the potential for violence in the future. I’d like to see them denounce violence rather than spew rhetoric about the police.

    What do you think?

    • Warren says:

      I think that’s a fair suggestion. But I’m against anyone reviewing themselves – police or protestors. That’s why there needs to be an independent review of some sort.

  19. bigcitylib says:

    Well, Bob Rae was crap. Nothing there other than a call to NGOs to “separate” themselves from those who came to do violence. Presumably by pointing them out to the police. Which might have worked had the cops been around at the time.

  20. Rotterdam says:

    I hope the police and the damaged businesses can make a damage claim towards the anarchists hard left NGO’s that egged them on.

  21. Alex B. says:

    Hi Warren,

    I see you a lot on tv. I’m glad you actually said something. It wasn’t a riot, it wasn’t a mob. At best it was a gang of educated or maleducated punks going on rampage with ISU complicity. The fact that the Police HQ was just 2 blocks away floors me. And the event on Sunday was beyond description. I’m starting to think that Toronto and its residents are part of a bigger social experiment to justify bigger change. Frankly, never once have I felt so unnerved by what I saw on t.v. and on the streets in Canada. I live downtown.

    Alex

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