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Paul Jay on TRNN interview with Ontario Ombudsman and other reports on G-20 anniversary

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PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: So we’re on our way from Toronto back to Washington. Today we’re working on the G-20 story. This is Friday. Saturday is the one-year anniversary of the big day at the G-20 weekend where so many people were arrested. We’ve just been in Toronto, where we interviewed the Ontario ombudsman, who had issued a report after the events that condemned the use of the Public Works Protection Act and called it the greatest violation of civil rights in Canadian history–maybe a little exaggeration if you look at what happened with native people or Japanese Canadians during World War II, but at any rate, that’s what he said, and certainly it was a great violation of people’s civil rights. Two things emerged from our interview with the ombudsman that were rather critical. There is a complete contradiction between the Toronto Police and what the RCMP told the ombudsman of who requested the Public Works Protection Act. This is a piece of legislation that the ombudsman called martial law, and allowed the police to ask for identification for people all over the city, something that one does not have to do in Canada, give up identification. If you’re somewhere where a policeman doesn’t think you should be, in theory you can walk away if you’re asked for ID. If you’re in a public place not doing anything wrong, you can just–. Now, my–the beep-beep is we’re running out of gas. Not the first time. At any rate, so we’re now going back to Washington, and we’re going to interview Howard Morton, who’s a Canadian lawyer, because the other thing that’s emerged is not just the use of the Public Works Protection Act, which gave these extraordinary powers to the police, but another report came out just a couple of days ago. The Toronto Police chief, Blair, who is in dispute with the RCMP over who asked for it, Blair says the Public Works Protection Act request came from the Integrated Security Unit, which is run by the RCMP. And the RCMP tells the ombudsman they didn’t know anything about it until the night before the event, which seems kind of preposterous, because we uncovered documents that showed that there was a training manual issued by the Kitchener-Waterloo police department at least weeks before the event, which talked all about the Public Works Protection Act. So how could it be a big secret to the RCMP? So we’re going to dig into more of this dispute. We also did an interview for the record with the chair of the Toronto Police Services Board. And he confirms that their understanding was that the request came from the RCMP and the Integrated Security Unit, which, again, contradicts the RCMP completely. So what I’d started to say was that there’s another piece of this which is very important, which is hundreds of people are arrested under something called breach of the peace, or breach of the Queen’s peace. And Blair, in his report issued just a couple of days ago, defends this and says that it’s within the criminal code, and in fact it’s common law, for a police officer to arrest someone he thinks is breaking the peace. But there’s nothing in the criminal code that actually allows the person to be charged with anything. So it seems completely preposterous that you can be arrested for something you can’t be charged for. And then what is that something? If you’re sitting peacefully in a park surrounded by police, which is what happened, many times people would (driving with no hands, but anyway) have their fingers up in the air like a V for peace, they’re actually calling for peace, and they get arrested for breaking the peace, and then they don’t get charged with anything. What it amounts to is you don’t have a right to protest in Ontario if this goes through. So we asked the chairman of the police services board whether they agree with this policy. They’re the civilian oversight board for the Toronto Police. And he told us they are investigating all of this. And Morden, Judge Morden, who’s issuing–doing a review for them about the whole activity, he says, we’ll address this issue as well, and then they will comment on it. They do–he said they do consider it a very serious issue. So, at any rate, that’s what we’re working on. And this is sort of new, having a sort of ad lib report on what’s happening today. So if you like it, let us know, and if there’s issues with the G-20 you would like us to take up, please let us know at contact (at) therealnews (dot) com. And tomorrow being Saturday, we will run the extended interview. It’s a 30-minute interview with the Ontario ombudsman. It’s very interesting. And we will also have an interview with the lawyer Howard Morton, who deals with many of these questions. And we hope you find all of this of use to you. Thanks for joining us on The Real News–I should say, thanks for joining us on our drive on The Real News Network.

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