McGuinty to Declare the1939 Public Works Protection Act Null & Void in the New Year

Update: see previous posts – November 23, 2011 11 G20 Defendants Set Free, November 3, 2011 G20 – Chair of Toronto Police Services Board concerned about G20 Photo’s (June, 2010), October 27, 2011 G20 Arrest for Weapons Charge Results in Acquittal, October 5, 2011 G20 Review by Toronto Police Services Board is Expected to Conclude by March, 2012, August 12, 2011 Toronto Deputy Police Chief Tony Warr Defends Actions of Police During G20 (June, 2010), July 29, 2011 Judge Rules that Man Arrested at G20 Should Have Been Provided Counsel, July 23, 2011 Twenty One (21) Month Sentence for Man Who Set G20 Police Vehicle Ablaze, July 22, 2011 G20 Investigator Wants Law to Ban Disguises After 17 Suspects Unidentified, July 21, 2011 Toronto Police Chief Blair’s Report on the G20 is Deferred, June 25, 2011 G20 Summit Toronto – First Anniversary (June 26 & 27, 2011), June 18, 2011 Harper Falls Short on Toronto Businesses’ G20 Claims, June 10, 2011 G20 – Final Public Hearing for the Toronto Police’s Civilian Review, June 10, 2011 G20 – Another Arrest, June 7, 2011 G20 Update – Who Assaulted Adam? Nooobody!, June 1, 2011 Ottawa Police Enjoy Their Share of the G20 Money Pie, McGuinty to Scrap the Secret G20 Law (1939 Public Works Protection Act), March 31, 2011 The “G20 Bump” Translates into a 60% Increase of Toronto Police Making the 2010 Sunshine List, March 19, 2011 Harper Screws Toronto’s Businesses, March 18, 2011 New G20 Lawsuits Launched Against Toronto Police Board, December 7, 2010 Ontario Umbudsman André Marin Delivers Report on G20 “Caught in the Act”, August 8, 2010 G20 Litigation, August 1, 2010 Damage$ Flowing from Charter Breaches

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Ontario is moving forward with legislation to replace the controversial “G20 secret law” in the New Year, the Star has learned.

Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur said Thursday the bill is a top priority and she is hopeful the minority Liberals can gain support from the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats when it is introduced in the parliamentary session that begins Feb. 21.

“Because of the impact that the G20 incident had on everyone, it’s important to make sure that we consult everyone and we have it right,” Meilleur said in an interview.

The obscure 1939 Public Works Protection Act, enacted to secure against Nazi saboteurs early in World War II, was used to quietly pass a regulation giving police broad powers of arrest during the June 2010 G20 summit of world leaders in Toronto.

That directive was merely supposed to clarify police powers within the secure summit site at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, but people were misled into believing it applied to five metres outside the cordoned-off zone.

While only two of the 1,105 arrests made during the G20 related to the act, there was widespread outcry over the so-called secret law.

Last summer, Meilleur’s predecessor, Jim Bradley, who is now environment minister, announced the Liberals were accepting recommendations of former chief justice Roy McMurtry to repeal the legislation.

In a 54-page report on the arcane law, McMurtry noted the “potential for abuse” was “beyond troubling” and said it was a “loaded weapon” that threatened civil liberties.

Under the act, police or private security guards do not have to justify their actions against citizens, he pointed out.

Meilleur said the government got the message loud and clear.

That’s why consultations are already under way with civil liberty groups, legal experts, and other interested parties to ensure the new legislation balances people’s rights with the need to protect potential terrorist targets like nuclear reactors and the subway system.

“We have to replace it. You cannot repeal it and have nothing and then work on something else. The two will be done at the same time,” the minister said.

“It’s a protected right that people . . . can get together and protest on something. We have to respect that. It’s to reach that balance. Probably 99.9 per cent of the population didn’t know about this act before and now they all know,” she said.

In a sensational 125-page report to the Legislature entitled “Caught in the Act,” Ombudsman André Marin said last December that “Ontario is the only province to have war measures legislation remaining on the books.

“For the citizens of Toronto, the days up to and including the weekend of the G20 will live in infamy as a time period where martial law set in in the city of Toronto, leading to the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history.”

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