Wednesday, July 07, 2010

"Still waiting for the real public inquiry"

A Star editorial today gives a nod to the Toronto Police Services Board's civilian review of the G20 police conduct of the Toronto Police Service, but is pushing for the provincial and federal roles to be probed as well.
...the proposed review of Toronto police actions is still insufficient in scope to get to the bottom of what happened in our city on the G20 weekend. The decision-makers included not just the Toronto police but also their counterparts from the OPP and RCMP and politicians in all three levels of government.

Collectively, they turned our city into an armed camp with empty streets, secretly invoked special police powers, allowed a few hooligans to run amok burning police cruisers and smashing store windows, and then arrested and incarcerated more than a thousand people, the vast majority of them guilty of no crime. Businesses in the downtown area suffered a big drop in sales. Instead of showcasing the city, the event produced damaging images, broadcast around the world. What is needed is a full public inquiry, called by either the province or Ottawa.
A full inquiry could ask what Harper was thinking when he decided to locate the summit in the downtown convention centre rather than (as Mayor David Miller had suggested) the Exhibition Grounds, why McGuinty chose to give police additional powers without telling the public, and why the police appeared first to under-react and then to over-react to events, with the result that constitutional rights were trampled upon.

Tackling all these concerns goes well beyond what a board-appointed review can accomplish. Only through a public inquiry can we be certain to have a forum with a broad enough mandate and sufficient power to address the lingering questions – and give the public confidence in the answers.

So far, we have the police chief’s promise of an internal review of “what we did and how we did it” and the board’s decision to appoint someone to scrutinize “oversight, governance (and) accountability.”

We’re still waiting for the real public inquiry.
The longer Harp tries to run away from any connection to that weekend of record setting mass arrests, hiding behind the Queen's skirts engaging in all of these successive photo-op days, I suspect the longer people will pursue it. It's been a bit of a surreal disconnect to be hearing the unsettling accounts arising out of the G20 while Harper seems to be off in his political Disneyland.

As for McGuinty and a provincial inquiry, there are questions that need to be answered about the Public Works Protection Act, some of them are raised again in this piece and it sounds like a number of ticked off Liberals will be pursuing them with McGuinty (yay to the party member quoted there standing up for civil liberties, by the way). With the G20 having been a federally overseen show, however, with the federal government choosing the venue, funding the security, bringing in officers from all over the country and setting up ISU headquarters to oversee the weekend's security execution, it's hard to see how the province would be the proper entity to launch that inquiry.

EFL has an idea on yet another inquiry that could possibly be pursued, through the RCMP Public Complaints Commissioner, with the precedent being the APEC Commission report. If the evidence supported such a request it might be another alternative to think about.