The official story on the “secret” expansion of the Public Works Protection Act has changed. The Star now reports that the law’s expansion applied only to the area inside the fence, not within five meters of the fence, as had been reported.
“The point is, those mass arrests in the streets of Toronto that occurred during the summit were under the authority of the Criminal Code, not the so-called sweeping powers that actually don’t exist,” the Star quotes provincial government spokeswoman Laura Blondeau.
This is somewhat misleading. First of all, it’s not that they “don’t exist” — their limits were not properly explained.
Secondly, this is not actually a surprise. Since it was understood that the law applied only within five meters of the fence, and most of the arrests took place nowhere near the fence, they obviously didn’t take place under that power. Until Laura Blondeau denied it, I hadn’t thought that anyone was making that claim.
As for the arrests taking place “under the authority of the Criminal Code,” perhaps someone could explain to me where in the Criminal Code it says you can be arrested for the crime of crossing Spadina at Queen. I don’t recall the Emergencies Act being invoked. But then again, given how much information the government has been offering us with regards to changes to the law … who knows?
There is (at least) one other question here: If the law didn’t apply anywhere outside the fence, then how did Dave Vasey get arrested under that law, outside the fence?
Maybe it had something to do with the chief of police himself seemingly believing that this law applied outside the fence.
“The information I was given when I was first advised of the regulation is that it pertained to an area of five metres outside the perimeter of the fence,” Blair said Tuesday.
“Once that information was clarified to us, we immediately notified all of our officers by a directive about the appropriate application of that regulation.”
Wow. So who misled whom? Did the provincial cabinet mislead Blair about the scope of the temporary powers? Did Blair mislead the public when he needed to explain an unjustified arrest? Or was it just a big misunderstanding — so big, in fact, that one has to question the competence of these people?
The message coming out of Queen’s Park and the police is very strange and frankly I’m not sure I believe any of it. They told us one thing when they needed to justify an arrest; they told us another when the initial explanation got a worse reception than the arrest itself.
It’s amazing what a total pig’s breakfast our officials have made of this whole thing. I doubt this story is over.