Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Police Admit Deliberately Misleading Public On Expanded Security Fence Law


Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair admits he willingly misinterpreted the so-called 'secret law' that was passed by the Ontario Liberal government cabinet to suit his own ends.

In doing so, in my view, he committed a knowingly willful act against civil liberties and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (*) and at the very least, brought disgrace upon himself and the entire Toronto Police Services he is charged to represent and administer. Chief Blair must resign or be forced from office by the Toronto Police Services Board.

The lawful rights of every citizen were taken away during the G20, as not only people near the security perimeter fence but also anywhere in Toronto were told they must show identification and submit to searches or be arrested. Indeed, there are numerous cases where arrests occurred and people were unlawfully detained by police. In many case, they were released without charge. Nonetheless, citizens had their civil liberty - guaranteed under constitutional law - taken away on the whim of a single man it seems.

No doubt the fallout from this will continue for days, weeks and months as the wrongly detained and arrested make their way through our slow court justice system, perhaps even to the Supreme Court. Many in authority will have much to answer for at all levels of government.

But until then, Chief Blair must resign or be removed from office. NOW !

(Sadly, Chief Blair has been an otherwise decent and effective police chief, and perhaps he is the 'scaepgoat' for the Ontario provincial government who seems to be running or cover from widespread public criticism)

( * ) Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

freedom of conscience and religion;

freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

freedom of peaceful assembly; and

freedom of association


  • Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure
  • Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.


Monday, June 28, 2010

G20 Protests June 25-27, 2010


Three days of massive protests in Toronto, most peaceful, but marred by the actions of a relatively very few vandals and some questionable police tactics have highlighted Toronto in a way that probably everyone can agree was disturbing at the least. How things were handled should be a major election issue as it speaks to the very foundations of civil liberties and democracy in our city.

I personally attended a protest march on Friday June 25 because I believed the ONE BILLION DOLLAR cost of security was of an obscene order of magnitude, particulary given that we have pressing social problems of poverty, hunger and homelessness in our city and country. At the same time, we should all be wondering why the last summit in the USA cost $18 million (51 times less) in comparison. Did it really have to cost this much and was it worth it?http://www.cp24.com/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100626/100626_cost_g20/20100626/?hub=CP24Home

Friday's demonstrations were peaceful and relatively uneventful, except for what appears to have been a denial of rights to the deaf man arrested for not hearing police orders http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/g8-g20/toronto/deaf-man-arrested-in-g20-protest-gets-bail/article1619559/ Police presence was massive, but restrained and orderly.

Saturday I did not attend protests, but had the opportunity to follow all of the actions via numerous blogs and live-feeds from both mainstream media and the wealth of citizen on the scene reporting. (the new 'social media' is amazing!) The actions of the small group of "Black Bloc" (self-professed anarchists who seem to hate any form of social order) hijacked the messages of the tens of thousands of protesters. Violence sells - "If It Bleeds It Leads" - and what most in our city, country and even internationally thought was 'Toronto is Burning' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32OW6cu4Ypk (Russia Today). Numerous downtown businesses were trashed, yet police did not respond to stop it, preferring instead to prevent protesters from getting to THE FENCE. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/825908--fortress-toronto-secrets-of-the-fence It seemed police tactics were to allow collateral damage to Toronto's streets to ensure the security zone around the dignitaries was protected at all costs. Incumbent City Councillor Adam Vaughan expected this http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/g8-g20/news/torontonians-try-to-make-sense-of-g20-vandalism/article1620860/

Sunday, police changed tactics, becoming much more aggressive at boxing in protesters and initiating arrests and violence. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/829581--police-tactics-too-tough-or-too-soft Peaceful, lawful protesters, passersby, tourists, media were forced into the net by herding police in riot gear. Tally? Over 600 arrests, much more than the infamous 1999 "Battle of Seattle" protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Trade_Organization_Ministerial_Conference_of_1999_protest_activity Sunday in Toronto saw violence against citizens by police in contrast to violence against property by criminals on Saturday.

The conclusion? Well, Prime Minister Stephen Harper in an "I told you so" moment suggested that the violence justified the controversial (one billion dollars) cost of the G20: "I think it goes a long way to explaining why we have the kind of security costs around these summits that we do" http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hNkQwBas7Slcts-cUOIAJhnP9HdwD9GJVAD00 Yet, the truth is these summits could be held anywhere at temendously lower cost than a city like Toronto.

And just where are our local city politicians on the G20 issues and what's happened to our city?

  • Mayor Miller blames the few thugs that caused all this
  • Adam Giambrone to his credit seems to have worked hard to keep the TTC running
  • Most mayoral candidates have blamed the criminals for all the violence
  • Many incumbent councillors, like Shelley Carroll, seemed to ignore and laugh at the situation (she tweeted: "Protest can't stop consumerism at Yonge and Bloor, Off to Queen and Beav to watch Ghana Game!" at the same time violence was erupting on the streets)
  • Following tweets of candidates for various levels of office, they pretty much all semed to be very far from the action doing social events. (Later many would condemn actions they never saw in person and only heard about from news reports)
  • Most notable, Himy Syed, once candidate for city councillor ward 19 now running for mayor, was at the heart of the action Sunday night at Queen and Spadina to experience first hand questionable police tactics http://twitter.com/himysyed

I have to wonder if there will be any real inquiry into what befell our city this past weekend, whether we'll really know whether laws were followed and rights respected by both protesters and police, and whether candidates for political office will even see this as an issue before October elections. In my view, the G20 and how it was handled in Toronto deserves an inquiry and close scrutiny, with a view to ensuring Toronto never again gets such a black eye.

It should be an election issue discussed by all candidates.

*** UPDATE *** Any businesses who suffered damage can apply to the federal government for compensation according to this: http://g20.gc.ca/payments-on-an-ex-gratia-basis/

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Ward 18 Councillor Race Getting Crowded

Well, we are now at ELEVEN candidates to replace our failed councillor Adam Giambrone in ward 18 Davenport (*). For TDSB School Trustee, so far it looks like Maria Rodrigues will be acclaimed as the only candidate in that "race". The Mayoral race currentlyt has THIRTY candidates, with the mainstream media claiming only 6 of them are the "frontrunners".

* January = 2 candidates, February = 4, March = 5, April = 6, May = 9,
June = 11 candidates
(candidates have until September 10 to declare or withdraw from the race)

Is this really a good thing for local democracy?

There have been allegations in the past from certain community lobby groups and individuals that the "Fringe" candidates are a waste of time and not worth hearing from or being invited to debates. While holding events with a minute or more allotted to each candidate can prove logistically onerous and seemingly unworkable, much of this attitude is simply self-serving expressed political leanings from those that expect they might gain the most from certain individuals getting elected. Truth be told, each of those already committed followers would perefer to see only one candidate - their choice - getting the attention. Coronations or acclamations would be even better in their view.

Most city level elections boast the sad reality of the lowest voter turnout. Most voters will simply choose a name they have heard of before, often unaware of the stance that person has on the issues. Elections often tend to be popularity contests where cleverly crafted sound bytes and staged events draw attention to name recognition. Issues often take second place, with the inevitable result that nothing really changes much.

Another inevitable result is that citizens continue to be disappointed in the results and complain that "all politicians are the same", "why bother voting", my vote "makes no difference". Cynicism grows and democracy withers.

... at least in the initial stages of campaigning and public events like debates.
Example: See the substance of issues at: http://www.junctiontriangle.ca/node/719

Fringe candidates will often bring attention to the issues that "front-runners" won't for a multitude of reasons:
  • Contentious issues are better left unmentioned or deflected, since taking a stand will mean dividing potential support
  • Staying with outside the ward issues and speaking to what city-wide media see as "THE" issues means getting valuable press attention that supports name recognition. This means local issues are often ignored or left unaddressed.
  • Front-runners often have ties to political parties and must show loyal allegiance to political philosophies, even if locally constituents hold another position, again, meaning potential loss of support
  • Front runners have to worry that if they did get elected, past promises not kept would come back to haunt them and end their lucrative careers in the next election. It is better for them to be as non-specific as possible while still sound like they might support voters' views
  • Those that have city hall experience, either as incumbents or staff to former incumbents, often have loyalties and allegiances to inner circle cliques whose positions again may be contrary to local ward voters.

I am inclined to think, but am not yet certain, that when the deadline for registering or withdrawing as a candidate passes (September 10), perhaps having so many candidates is NOT a good thing. There is always the possibility of vote-splitting, with results we have seen in the past where perhaps 20% or less of the voters decide who is chosen to represent them and the other 80% of the ward. Certainly not a clear mandate or vote of confidence!

Until we have a system of RANKED BALLOTS where people can clearly indicate their preferential order (first, second, etc) this problem won't be solved.

Until then, maybe ALL CANDIDATES should decide if they are in or out, if they have the support or not and if there is another candidates who would best represent their views on the local issues.

Still, until the final decide date, the more the "FRINGE" can contribute to healthy debate and brining up real local issues, the better it is for democracy in my view. Because...