Police have new powers to patrol the G20 security zone in downtown Toronto. (Canadian Press)
Police forces in charge of security for the G20 in Toronto have been granted special powers for the duration of the summit.
The new powers took effect Monday and apply only along the border of the G20 security fence that encircles a portion of the downtown core. This so-called red zone includes the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where delegates will meet.
The new powers are designed specifically for the G20, CBC's Colin Butler reported Friday.
Ontario's cabinet quietly passed the new rules on June 2 without legislature debate.
'The public has nothing to fear with this legislation and the way the police will use this legislation. It really comes down to a case of common sense and officer discretion.'— Sgt. Tim Burrows of the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit
Sgt. Tim Burrows of the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit said the new regulations make parts of the existing Public Works Protection Act apply to the G20 security zone in downtown Toronto.
"The public has nothing to fear with this legislation and the way the police will use this legislation," said Burrows. "It really comes down to a case of common sense and officer discretion. If you're approaching that fence line, we want to know why."
The new powers are in effect on the streets and sidewalks in and around the security fence.
Under the new regulations:
- anyone who comes within five metres of the security area is obliged to give police their name and state the purpose of their visit.
- Police, at their discretion, can deny access to the area and "use whatever force is necessary" to keep people out.
- Anyone who refuses to identify themselves or refuses to provide a reason for their visit can be fined up to $500.
- The new rules also give police the power to search anyone who approaches the fence.
- The regulation also says that if someone has a dispute with an officer and it goes to court "the police officer's statement under oath is considered conclusive evidence under the Act."
The new regulations continue through Monday, when the G20 delegates leave town
Burrows said police have already made "two or three" arrests under the new rules as of Friday morning.
"We're bound by duty to protect the people that are going be within that fence line," said Burrows. "If you refuse to tell us [why you're there], then we have to assume that your purposes are not of a peaceful nature."
Toronto Star Live Blog: whose rights?
An exasperated Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair is defending the police's sweeping powers to arrest anyone near the G20 security zone who refuse to identify themselves.
Blair has said repeatedly at a morning news conference that the law wasn't a secret, that is was published two weeks ago and that there is nothing sweeping about it.
"They have a right not to identify themselves. They may leave. If they try to force their way in, they will be arrested," Blair said. "The five metre zone around the fence is to protect the barrier. We've all seen film of people trying to pull the fence down. we want to make sure people aren't pulling down the fence."
"It's not a new law, it's not a secret law, if you Google Public Works Protection Act, Ontario" it's there, he said.
The Star reported this morning that a 32-year-old man was arrested under the new regulations.
Globe & Mail: