G20 Response: Letter to the Premier

G20 Letter to the PremierThe Honourable Dalton McGuinty
Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1

Dear Premier McGuinty:

I am dismayed by your cabinet's decision to place limits on civil liberties through a temporary regulation affecting the Public Works Protection Act without adequately informing the public. While such a decision may be warranted, the secrecy and confusion surrounding the law shows a profound disregard for transparent and democratic governance.

Yesterday’s clarification that the law only affected individuals 5 metres inside the G20 security fence only makes the matter worse. For five days Ontarians believed that their civil liberties had been secretly limited by your government. Public comments by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair indicate that even the police force was initially confused as to what powers cabinet had granted them. Yet, your government waited until Tuesday, June 29 to clarify the rules.

This sad affair could have been avoided if your government had issued a simple news release informing the public about the new regulation with a clear explanation of how it would be applied. Instead, your government buried it on a website, so that nobody heard about it until an arrest was made.

Compounding the problem was the complete lack of any effort to clarify the rules when virtually every media outlet was reporting over the weekend that anyone found near the security fence would find their civil liberties limited. Premier, you could have set the record straight with your comments on Friday, June 25. Incredibly, you instead stated that granting additional powers to the police were “in keeping with the values and standards of Ontarians.” Allowing such confusion to rein during the weekend is a complete abdication of your responsibilities as Premier.

I believe you owe Ontarians an explanation and an apology.

Sincerely,

Mike Schreiner
Leader, Green Party of Ontario