Toronto's secret ID law used to arrest G20 protestor

Alan sez, "In Canada you're not required to show ID. Except if you're in the 'G20 Zone'. You see, the law allows an exemption to the 'show ID' principle for public works. These are usually things like power stations, dams, etc. Well, the government got clever and just declared the entire area a 'public work' so police can go around demanding ID. The best part of this? The law that made this happen won't even be PUBLISHED until after the G20 is over. So nobody knew about it until the cops arrested someone."

And the guy they arrested? They put him in a cage.

Vasey was arrested Thursday afternoon while exploring the G20 perimeter with his friend, Cameron Fenton. He said they were just "walking around" when they were stopped by police at York St. and Bremner Blvd.

"The officer told me, 'I am going to have to place you under arrest if you don't show your identification,' and I replied 'I'm not comfortable with that.'"

Vasey said he had been provided with legal information prior to the G20 from the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, an umbrella group supporting thousands of protesters descending on the city.

Man arrested and left in wire cage under new G20 law (Thanks, Alan!)


  1. The entire way the G20 is being handled is so appalling. Any protest is portrayed as dangerous; demonstrators are being equated with terrorists. The University is closed, as is the Art Gallery, even though they aren’t even in the cordoned off area. Trees have been uprooted (lest they be weaponized) and the inhabitants encouraged to leave town.

    That Stephen Harper would behave this way is not so surprising, but even the provincial Liberals are going along with this suspension of civil liberties… As a “new Canadian” and a Torontonian, I find it — and the failure of the media to protest against it — profoundly depressing.

    1. This is the reality in Canada. We like to keep the place safe, really safe, have you been to a provincial park with gates, concrete paths through forests and always near, will be someone telling you to be careful. This is part of the deal, if you don’t want to be arrested, keep away from trouble. Part of the sacrifice of protest can include incarceration – how much are you willing to give up to fight for your cause.

      Carry on, no surrender.

  2. This is really sad.

    I USED to think Canadians genuinely cared about the environment, civil liberties, and doing what’s right.

    1. That used to be the case, but as soon as *all 33 million* of us got elected to civil service, the power handed to us proved to be too seductive.

      I hope you’ll reconsider your point of view.

  3. Well, at least he’ll be able to retire on the money he gets from the lawsuit he should be filing.

  4. Bill Blair is a fascist pig. Have him, McSquinty and the arresting officer(s) charged with unlawful detainment, and put them in jail.

  5. I went to the G20 zone to take pictures today. I took my American passport with me just to be safe.

    A few snapshots of some RCMPs outside the Toronto Metro Convention Center later, I’ve been asked to reveal the contents of my camera (I refused) and my passport number has recorded.

    Being a paranoid chap, I’m now worried about any of three possibilities happening. First, this might make it more difficult for me to fly home. Second, I might actually have something to file a FOIA request over. Third, this might further screw up my chances at renewing my visa.

    All for photographing cops.

  6. Thank you for calling attention to this, the security madness and political repression surrounding the G20 is a huge story which somehow isn’t getting much press.

  7. Clever clever: they get what they need, until a Judge knocks it down. That’ll take a bit of time, I’m afraid: perhaps so long as this summit lasts?

    Speaking entirely for myself, the best protest IMHO in the present case would be to have no protests at all: to make the security look even more spendthrift than it already most certainly is.

    Speaking again entirely for myself , I take this opportunity to welcome all of the world’s leaders gathering here, and their various advisers and entourages, to my beautiful home Canada: and I hope that they all – every single last one of them, no matter who they are, or what political or national interest they represent, without exception – have an pleasant, happy and relaxed time as our honored guests!

  8. Oh hey – the same goes for you guys coming here to protest & gripe at those leaders! Welcome!

  9. There’s a multitude of problems with this. One, it’s a provincial REGULATION that is trumping Federally granted rights. Two, it’s not ONLY being applied to this area, it seems to be going on wherever there are people.
    It was passed in secret (despite what they will tell you), and went into effect on June 21, and set to expire June 28th, right after the event. This has NEVER been used in a situation like this. This is to protect dams, and nuclear plants and the like…you know PUBLIC WORKS. There are private corporations and private HOMES in the area now defined as a PUBLIC WORK. This is a dangerous precedent to set. Like I said, it WAS done secretly since it won’t be published until July 3rd. It was published online (which isn’t enough for a lien, so why would it be good enough for a LAW), and if THAT’S what they mean when they say public…then…it’s disingenuous at best.

    My MPP is going to be getting a strongly worded letter, copies of the stories I’ve written on this, and a bill for my time. I don’t expect anything out of it…

    Check out CBC’s G20 Blog, my stuff is there, as well as about 15 other bloggers.

  10. Is it just me, or does it seem as though political leaders are the most paranoid people on earth?

    They make the tinfoil hat crowd look only marginally skeptical by comparison.

  11. Let me get this straight. The right wing loonies are afraid of the UN potentially becoming the ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT, even though it’s only been used to oppress dictators. The G20, which seems to stomp all over democracies wherever it meets, is all good.

    Do I have that correct?

    1. simple, UN is socialist by nature (it provides emergency aid after all), but the G20 are all about capitalism.

  12. You guys are missing the most important point of this article. Somewhere out there, there is a cop walking around named “Doug Pflug”.

  13. same anon as #1

    usually in these situations cops arrest and detain without charges and then release, but they have just taken this already disgusting practice one egregious step further. This makes me really really angry.

    BTW Pflug doesn’t rhyme with Doug. It’s pronounced FLOOG so it rhymes with MOOG.

  14. Pouring gas on the fire, the fucking assholes. This could mutate from an anti G-20 protest to an open revolt against Harper/McGimpy. Usually I’m quite ambivalent to these hydra-headed protests, but shit like this makes me want to fight’em in the streets.

  15. First vancoover olympics taking over their laws, now the G20. Will Canada not roll over for anyone? Quick, US invade and steal their water, their government is easily bought!

  16. The regulation in question was published on the Ontario e-laws website (the official laws website for the province) on June 16. E-laws is one of the official publishing methods for laws in Ontario. The other is the Gazette, the paper version of laws as passed. The paper version won’t be printed until after the G20 is over and after the regulation expires.

    You can read it here:

    It’s a dirty trick with very little advanced notice, but it’s not secret law.

    1. Actually, if you dig a bit deeper and read the *actual* Public Works Protection Act (’ll see that it can already technically apply to pretty much ANYTHING on public property. Highways and streets are already included in the Act, and it could technically be used, already, for the cops to demand that you produce ID and/or search your person when walking out your front door, since you’re approach a public work – that being the street in front of your house.

      The fact that they specifically passed a regulation to clarify the situation was actually going above and beyond in a way, although I’m sure the real reason for it was to cover themselves for the inevitable challenges that would come later.

      The fact that the Public Works Protection Act is so broad and sweeping to begin with is far more worrisome than its application to a few specific areas and events over the past couple of days.

  17. There are enough idiots and provocateurs around that I have no problem with this law – although they definitely should have announced it when it passed on Monday, not waited until Thursday. It expires right after the weekend, so is not going to affect anyone who isn’t right outside the fence today and tomorrow.

    For the record, yesterday I wandered around inside and outside the perimeter for a couple of hours and snapped about a hundred pictures of cops, fences, hazmat vans, etc. I was stopped and asked for ID once when crossing though (a very polite couple of cops, and I cooperated equally politely), as the gate was still open at this point, but nobody tried to stop me from photographing anything and nobody asked to see the contents of my camera.

    1. You have no problem with the government discretely passing a law that they know violates charter rights and will not stand up to judicial scrutiny so that they can temporarily detain people? Oddly I do have a problem with this kind of tactic.

  18. Charlie Veitch (from the Love Police) was also arrested. Check out his latest video about it on youtube.

  19. I live right in the downtown core of Toronto, real close to where a bunch of protests have already gone down. Down my street, for blocks and blocks, are normal mini-vans, filled to the brim with police. SUVs with the Canadian equivalent to SWAT are always driving around nice and slow. So yes, there is a lot of police intimidation, but also, after talking to a bunch of cops when I was being questioned recently (thank god they didn’t search my bag, I don’t know if they would have taken too kindly to some herb) most of them are from out of the downtown core and are on insane work schedules. Most of the cops I’ve seen are just fucking bored. Though, that’s even more reason to be worried about pissing one of them off.

  20. it’s a good use of newspeak!

    I read somewhere that the UK ministry of defence had a stalled project to build aircraft, and that their legal duty was to supply the aircraft to military bases by a specific date – so they tried to declare the workshop floor at Boeing a ‘military base’

    It’s important that whoever dreamt this scheme up is found and figuratively flayed alive in the courts. The G20 is not a public work. The officer is misusing his powers. If the officer states it’s a public work in court, he is committing perjury.

    1. Don’t know why my earlier post didn’t show up…I don’t think I hit send!

      Anyway, it’s not perjury. Because of the way the law is written, the cop could claim I was the “gosh darn Loch Ness monster out lookin’ for tree-fitty” and his word is correct. THAT is the worst part of the law. Obviously a judge would see past that…but the fact remains. The officer themselves unfortunately are on the short end of the stick with this one. I was just searched about an hour ago. He asked if he could, I said I don’t really have a choice and he said no. I could tell they didn’t want to do this…
      The fault of this is a 1990 law that has been misapplied to this situation. Also to the Police Chief for ASKING for this power. It’s the OTHER cops that are not in this area doing the same thing…they may not know that they are not under this rule…
      In this instance I say don’t blame the cops. Don’t tell them they’re wrong…but ask if they could do the same thing next weekend if they were there. If the answer is yes…then it’s the cop and NOT the law…

  21. Just as a little update: the protesting is currently in full force, and two police cars have been set aflame, the Eaton’s is in lockdown, and store windows are being smashed. It’s a madhouse!

  22. Make that three police cars on fire. Hospitals have gone into lockdown as well. After all the bitching about the gov’t spending billions on security for G20 what do people do? Prove them right. Good job people, you fail at life.

    The majority yes, were there in peaceful protest, but the black bloc asshats breaking down windows, and the mobs of youth swarming cops taking cell phone pics make this whole thing a mess.

    Just a media tip, if CBC shoves a camera in your face for a sound bite on why your fucking protesting, please ensure you have a reason other than to be on tv.

  23. Walked around downtown after the protests.

    Windows smashed at such Outposts of Imperialism as Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Urban Outfitters, and American Apparel. A few police cars set on fire.

    Windows already being replaced or boarded up. The police will have to buy a few new cars. So the only things these actions demonstrated is the efficiency of capitalism.

    Watch the protesters earlier. Mostly young, full of earnest self-righteousness. Chanting the usual hackneyed slogans. Along with a few oldsters reliving their youth.

    Conclusion. Their protests, peaceful or violent, will have zero influence on global events.

  24. It’s really hard to keep fighting the good fight for freedom when Black Blocers are torching local PD cars, proving the authoritarians right.

    Add to that people saying “but why were the police cars abandoned?? It was a setup!!” and my eyes are about to roll out of my heads.

    1. Well, why DID the police drive these old, out-of-service police cars into the middle of a protest, then get out and walk away?

      Why did the police choose to usher the media in at that moment?

      Why did 1,000 police officers stand by, just a few meters away, while an idiot protester jumped up and down on one of the cars?

      Why did the same 1,000 police officers continue to stand by and watch all three cars get torched?

      Why did they wait until the media got plenty of footage of that before they picked up the fire extinguishers that had ready, and put out the fires?

      Either the police were very, very stupid or they were very, very smart.

      My money’s on the later, because now, the next day, they’ve swept up over 500 people on the pretense of looking for the handful who torched the cars.

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