Federal opposition leaders silent on police actions at G20 summit in Toronto

The chattering classes, nongovernmental organizations, and the Canadian media have all been preoccupied by the police response to the G20 protests.

Amnesty International and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association have each criticized the heavy-handed police tactics that resulted in more than 600 arrests.

But so far, none of the three federal opposition parties with seats in Parliament have breathed a word about this on their Web sites.

Party leaders Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton, and Gilles Duceppe also haven't sent a single tweet to their followers on what happened in Toronto this weekend. They'll send the most inane messages over Twitter on a regular basis, but when there's an attack on constitutional freedoms, they go strangely silent.

Nor has federal Green leader Elizabeth May sent out a tweet. As a lawyer, she has no excuse for staying silent. Yet there is no comment about police tactics on her party's site.

In one instance captured on video, riot police charged at peaceful protesters who were singing O Canada.

If that isn't enough to attract a response from our overly cautious federal political leaders, they shouldn't be surprised that so many young people have turned their backs on electoral politics.

And the one politician who likes to present himself as the voice of the next generation, Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, has also not tweeted a word or issued a statement on his Web site about police shredding guarantees enshrined in Section 2 of his father's cherished Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, and freedom of assembly are supposed to exist in this country, though you wouldn't know it from the way police behaved in Queen's Park last night.

No wonder Prime Minister Stephen Harper looked so smug at his news conference today.

Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.




Jun 27, 2010 at 11:31pm

The police showed remarkable restraint given the kind of violence and vitriol they were up against - not the mention the burden of securing such a controversial event. I applaud them.


Jun 28, 2010 at 6:04am

Adog, were you disappointed that the stormtroopers didn't break more heads, and didn't fire live ammunition from assault rifles into the peaceful demonstrators while they sang the national anthem? Or would you have settled for employing tear gas and water cannons to clear the streets so those 25,000 pesky protestors couldn't hold their signs, sing their songs and chant their slogans?

Scott Shannon

Jun 28, 2010 at 7:16am

Some of their conduct did show restraint and can be applauded. That doesn't mean that there shouldn't be investigations into very credible allegations by well respected journalists, as well as footage such a this. Police are not allowed in this country to suppress free assembly at their whim because they are worried it may turn violent.
If they want to do that legislation can be passed and our politicians will be held accountable to that.


Jun 28, 2010 at 8:53am

What are they supposed to say?

Anyone who was in the area of the disturbances deserved whatever they got. They had the freedom to stay away also. I agree, the restraint of the police was commendable.


Jun 28, 2010 at 9:17am

It was so dumb and just asking for trouble to host it downtown. Why not host it way out in the country where no one is to avoid clashes like this?

PT Barnum

Jun 28, 2010 at 10:14am

Well, they're scared to death. There are more votes to be had supporting law and order than mere constitutional freedom, particularly where rioters are part of the mix.
As for police charging demonstrators singing O Canada, I'd be tempted to do the same if forced to listen to that awful song one more time.


Jun 28, 2010 at 1:51pm

===>>> Charlie Smith

There are four press releases on the NDP website concerning the G8 and G20 meetings. In reverse order by date:

Summits came at a high price but delivered little
Mon 28 Jun 2010
New Democrats demand accountability on dollars and police actions

Demonstrations are inevitable at events such at the G8 and G20 and downtown Toronto is an extremely challenging area for police to secure. Following the summits, serious questions have been raised about the implementation of security plans.
Why did the federal government ignore the concerns and suggestions of the local government in holding the summit in downtown Toronto on a weekend?
Who requested the temporary suspension of basic civil liberties for the duration of the summits? And why was this done in secret?
What role did federal officials play in the Integrated Security Unit in policing the summit?
Will the government compensate Toronto for the damage that Harper’s summits have caused?

Statement on the vandalism in downtown Toronto by NDP Leader Jack Layton
Sun 27 Jun 2010

Peaceful and lawful protests are important in a democracy and help raise important issues. Torontonians have often marched and protested peacefully on these streets, with virtually no serious incidents.
It is appalling to see the violence and vandalism we witnessed today. There are thousands of people in downtown Toronto frightened tonight about what is unfolding on our streets. And this deplorable incident is also driving people away from our city and hurting so many local businesses.
Criminal activity like this must be condemned, it is simply unacceptable.

Harper’s summits put banks ahead of people
Sun 27 Jun 2010
New Democrats call G20 a missed opportunity

Harper's G8 falls short and fails on commitments
Sat 26 Jun 2010
New Democrats demand better from Prime Minister at G20

Rod Smelser

"They had the freedom to stay away"

Jun 28, 2010 at 2:06pm

pippatch wrote:

"They had the freedom to stay away"

pippatch, you are an idiot.

You deserve to lose your civil rights.

You deserve to have members of your family disappeared.

You deserve everything that is coming to you if we as Canadians do nothing but stand by while our civil rights are dismantled.