Barely noticed in all the election foofaraw, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security released a blistering report yesterday calling for a full public inquiry into policing at the Toronto G8 and G20 summits last summer.
The Committee uncovers a sorry tale of police savagery, including beatings, unjustified mass arrests, racist and homophobic taunts, inhumane prison conditions, and refusal of access to legal representation.
During the G20 summit, police arrested 1,105 individuals. Those arrested included various members of the media, human rights observers or peaceful protesters and passersby who were scooped up off the streets.
…The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) noted that “security efforts, especially after 5:00 p.m. on June 26 and 27, failed to come up to the standard of constitutional commitments.” In the view of the CCLA, “[p]olice conduct and actions were at times disproportionate, arbitrary and excessive”. This finding was confirmed by numerous witnesses, who noted “a concerted effort by police to terrorize participants”.
…Throughout our study, witnesses reported troubling experiences at the Eastern Avenue temporary detention centre, at the two correctional centres of the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and at the courthouse. While in detention, some demonstrators experienced strip-searches, insults and discriminatory comments, and were held for more than 57 hours. Some said that they were handcuffed for more than 15 hours, and were deprived of food or water for more than eight hours. A number of detainees were also denied the right to speak to a lawyer. The Committee was also told that a number of witnesses were denied access to their essential medication, including insulin and anti-depressants.
It’s worth noting once again that most of the detainees had charges dropped, and, to date, not a single one has been convicted of anything. [see Erratum below —DD]
What is a picture of horror for any decent Canadian, however, is a Conservative’s wet dream. The Harper Members™ of the Committee effectively espoused police brutality and the suspension of civil rights for ordinary Canadian citizens:
Rather than focussing on the important issues of security, the Opposition Coalition focussed on impugning the good work done by Canadian law enforcement officers.
Conservative Members of this Committee believe that this summit was an unmitigated success. The irresponsible and inaccurate recommendations contained within this report are not a result of thorough analysis, but merely an attempt by the Opposition Coalition to score political points at the expense of Canadian law enforcement officers.
There you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. One can only imagine what would happen to the civil liberties of all Canadians were Harper’s “Iron Heel” party to achieve a Parliamentary majority.
ERRATUM: In fact, one conviction was obtained earlier this month, against an individual who set fire to a police car. He has not yet been sentenced.