July 06, 2010
STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR
The province’s special investigations unit has begun probing five allegations that police caused serious injury to civilians during the summit.
It is unclear whether civilian or police information led to the investigation, with more details promised Wednesday.
“We’re currently looking into details surrounding those interactions” and speaking with witnesses, SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon said Tuesday. She would not say which police force or forces, of many drawn into G20 security, are involved in the allegations. The SIU can probe only the officers who work in Ontario, Hudon said, which includes municipal forces and the OPP but not the RCMP.
On the same day, a Toronto police services board meeting calling for an independent civilian review of the way G20 security was handled drew heated response from many people who came to vent about their treatment during the summit.
Thinking their voices would be heard at Tuesday’s hastily called special session at police headquarters, many shouted their objections after board chair Alok Mukherjee announced his recommendation that an impartial civilian overseer be chosen to conduct the review.
The chair said those in the rowdy gathering had “no automatic right to speak” at this venue, and that complaints should be filed in the form of written deputations.
Tuesday’s meeting came surprisingly soon after vice-chair Pam McConnell suggested a “cooling off” period last week. Other members, as well as Chief Bill Blair, said they felt more time was needed before a summit post-mortem should be conducted.
Board members agreed just two days after the summit closed that discussion of a civilian review should begin “with a proposal for a process for the board to exercise its civilian oversight responsibilities” by the next monthly meeting. The speeded-up process means an independent reviewer will be chosen in time for that July 22 meeting, at which time the board will also hear complaints from citizens who have filed written deputations.
It was clear, however, that many people aggrieved by what happened during the summit are impatient to be heard sooner.
“This is a public meeting and I think I have the right to speak, as others do as well. I’m talking about transparency and accountability that starts right here,” said John Sewell, who heads up the Toronto Police Accountability coalition.
Others who packed the meeting began heckling as Mukherjee and fellow board members tried to explain this meeting was to announce the framework of the review and that the forum would come later after deputations from the public were received by the board.
Blair, Mukherjee and other board members left the meeting without pausing to answer reporters’ questions, as they often do following board meetings.
City Councillor and board member Adam Vaughan did, however, stay to explain the slow and complex process of the review.
“It’s been a very tumultuous time in the city, and we all need to afford each other patience and an opportunity to proceed fairly. I recognize, for some people, the need to speak is immediate and urgent,” he said.
“The issue is the terms of reference we presented publicly. The public will have a chance to weigh in on those terms of reference and to assess their strengths and weaknesses and give us recommendations and then we’ll make a decision on them as a board,” Vaughan said.
The recommendations state that the independent reviewer will have about 12 weeks to complete the review, with the power to question board and police policy and analyze all police actions relating to G20 security.
“It’s certainly a step in the right direction,” said Nathalie Des Rosiers, counsel general with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, an organization that attended yesterday’s police board meeting.
“The mandate (of the review) must give access to files not only within the Toronto police but, if possible, access to the security-protected files and the information that was obtained from CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service). We don’t know if it is possible, but it should certainly be looked at.”
Des Rosiers said anyone who feels he or she was mistreated by police during the G20 summit has the right to lodge a complaint.
Written deputations must be received no later than five working days before the July 22 police board meeting. It must be signed and contain a presentation outline, with each individual’s or group’s presentation limited to five minutes. The presentations will be videotaped as part of the regular board meeting.
Deputations can be emailed to the attention of the Toronto Police Board Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com, or mailed to the TPSB Administrator at 40 College St., Toronto, M5G 2J3, or dropped off at the front desk of Toronto Police Headquarters at that address.