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Pressure grows for greater scrutiny of G20 policing

Police pen in G20 protesters and passersby at the intersection of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue on Sunday afternoon.

Jonas Naimark

Calls are growing for closer scrutiny of police conduct during the G20 summit as MPs step into the fray and the head of Toronto's police association says he's "not optimistic at all" the civilian review that the police services board announced this week will carry any weight.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty conceded in his first public statements since the June 26-27 summit that the province should have done a better job to clarify the powers granted police securing the perimeter around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre where world leaders were meeting.

But he countered repeated calls for a provincial inquiry, saying it's not up to him: That's Ottawa's call.

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To that end, the Commons public safety committee will meet over the next few days to discuss policing over the summit weekend. Members are expected to focus on concerns about the conduct of summit security personnel, violations of civil liberties, violence and property destruction, and the political and operational decisions that led to these problems.

"This is the fastest way to get a form of public inquiry and we want to start getting answers now," NDP committee member Don Davies said.

"For a billion dollars, we were supposed to avoid violence; we got violence. We were supposed to protect civil liberties and they weren't [protected]"

More than 1,000 people were arrested during the summit weekend, of whom 263 were charged with offences more serious than breach of peace. Complaints to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director increased the following week: 164, compared with an average of 80.

The Special Investigations Unit, an arm's-length police watchdog, is looking into five incidents of serious injury to civilians and involving police over the summit weekend. All five of the investigations were initiated by police officers themselves, said SIU spokeswoman Monica Hudon.

Police services are obligated to inform the SIU of incidents where someone has been seriously injured as a result of an interaction with police.

Toronto City Council reaffirmed its support for police in a unanimous vote of confidence Wednesday, lauding the force's "outstanding work" despite calls by several councillors for a deferral of any police congratulations until reviews of their conduct are complete.

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Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack said his members are waiting to find out what the review's terms of reference will be, but he's skeptical as to the weight it will carry.

"We have some concerns on how effective [it will be]" he said, adding that his members will look to the result of an internal operational review conducted by Police Chief Bill Blair.

The summit weekend caused "tremendous psychological scarring," Mr. McGuinty told reporters Wednesday.

"Let's put it this way," he said. "If the Prime Minister were to sit down and say, "Can we host another G20 summit in Toronto?' I think we'd all say, 'We've been there, we've done that, thanks very much.' "

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About the Authors

Karen Howlett is a national reporter based in Toronto. She returned to the newsroom in 2013 after covering Ontario politics at The Globe’s Queen’s Park bureau for seven years. Prior to that, she worked in the paper’s Vancouver bureau and in The Report on Business, where she covered a variety of beats, including financial services and securities regulation. More

Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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