Saturday, July 3, 2010

Democracy on Life Support. We Need a Full Public Inquiry.

There are now almost 40,000 people demanding a full public inquiry into the police brutality against Canadian citizens last weekend.

Two things stand out from the street riots and subsequent police actions that swept downtown Toronto last weekend. The first is the state blatantly abused its powers. Summits legitimately require security; but in this one, governments went over the top. The federal government transformed the city’s downtown into a no-go zone. The provincial government secretly passed new regulations to give police extraordinary search and seizure powers and then, when citizens found out, pretended that it hadn’t. The police used their authority to prevent breaches of the peace as an excuse to jail citizens who were committing no crimes The second is that most people don’t care. Polls show that more than 70 per cent of Torontonians approve of these abuses.

Now mind you that poll was taken last Sunday before we realized just what went on, and the fact that the police did nothing to prevent the vandals, but instead turned their weapons on ordinary Canadians. All so Stephen Harper could justify spending 1.3 billion for security.

There was even the daughter of a police officer beaten. Will he stand up to who ever attacked his daughter? For every one's daughter, son, mother, father, sibling ... ?

There was a letter to the editor in the Hamilton Spectator from a woman who said "I did not celebrate Canada Day. That morning at dawn, I removed all my Canada Day flags and decorations from my property." (Her daughter was the one beaten).

I know how she felt. I put up no flags and went to no celebrations. I couldn't with good conscience wave a flag and cheer for a country that I no longer recognize. Where innocent people are pulled from their beds in the wee hours of the morning, and others beaten and terrorized.

An image of a man probably in his 60's, pounded to the ground by 6 burly officers, gives me little to celebrate. Watching a group of people who had been singing Oh, Canada, be charged by police, grabbed by the throat and hauled away, does not happen in my country. Or at least it shouldn't have happened.

And if it's true that 70% of Canadians don't care, I think I'll be putting my flags away for good.

In 4 1/2 years, we have been transformed from a nice peaceful nation, to a country where police brutality is not only sanctioned by our government but cheered by our populace. Heaven help us.

The fallout from the debacle of the G20 will felt by all Canadians for some time to come. Today, I mourn the loss of my innocence, in believing I live in a democracy. I did not celebrate Canada Day. That morning at dawn, I removed all my Canada Day flags and decorations from my property. By virtue of my profession, I travel the world. I have seen first-hand the police actions in third world countries directed at those who would "dare to speak out" and have their voices heard.

To think I would see the "trampling" of our collective rights and the right to "free speech" being discarded is devastating to me as a once proud Canadian. The actions of police in arresting and charging those who were peacefully exercising their rights is something I would expect to witness anywhere else but Canada.
The words "the true north strong and free" of our national anthem are now a mockery.

My youngest daughter was a victim of this suspension of our rights. She was arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and obstruct police. This young woman headed the largest ever contingent of university students to post-Katrina New Orleans, on a Habitat build, this young woman slept in -30C temps outdoors to highlight the plight of the homeless, this young woman volunteers with a soup kitchen. This young woman is a dedicated pacifist who would not even kill a bug.

And this young woman is the daughter of a policeman who was on G20 duty. The police officer who beat her with his/her baton would not have known that. Not everyone was an "anarchist" and armed. Some like my daughter were just there to support their causes in a peaceful, lawful manner.

I for one will be asking the hard questions of my MPP and MP. And I will voice my outrage and "punish" those who allowed this travesty to happen by my vote in the next elections. Nothing less than a public inquiry is in order. Canada's reputation for freedom and democracy has suffered a black eye in the court of public opinion, not only here at home, but worldwide.


  1. I spent part of Canada Day at a rally in Queen's Park demanding a public inquiry into what happened at the G20. We heard many stories of injustice and brutality. And we sang O Canada, repeatedly.

    We cannot let the actions of police forces and politicians in our employ take away our country and our country's values from us. It's not Canada's fault these things happened...but it will be if we don't take action to prevent this from ever happening again.