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Ombudsman To Release Report On G20 Police Powers By Next Week

Ontario’s ombudsman says he has finished investigating what he describes as a secret law that sparked confusion about police powers during the G20 summit in Toronto.

In a Twitter update Saturday, André Marin said he has reviewed all the evidence and will give a draft report to the provincial government within 10 days.

“Once finalized, the G20 report will be made public in its entirety,” Marin wrote, adding that this will happen before the end of the year.

Marin’s 90-day probe looked at why the province passed a regulation that many thought gave police powers to arrest people who came within five metres of a security fence at the summit site if they didn’t show identification.

Passed by the Ontario cabinet on June 2, the regulation designated the G20 security fence and the area within it a public work, bringing it under the purview of the Public Works Protection Act.

As a result, police were empowered to ask those near the security perimeter to identify themselves and state their purpose for being there.

It was originally reported that the expanded police powers extended to a five-metre buffer zone outside the security fence, but police Chief Bill Blair later said that wasn’t true. In reality, the new regulation applied only to people trying to enter the perimeter.

But neither police nor politicians set the record straight until after the June 26-27 summit was over.

Marin said in July that even he was fooled, and his office received dozens of complaints.

His report will look at whether it was necessary for the province to pass such a regulation and how the government communicated with the public. It also will examine how police interpreted the law and reacted to those who were demonstrating.

About 1,000 people were arrested on the weekend of the G20 summit after a group of black-clad rioters broke off from a peaceful protest and rampaged through Toronto’s core, smashing windows and setting police cruisers on fire.

Many of those arrested were released without charges, while dozens of others saw their charges later dropped in court.

Toronto’s police services board, the civilian oversight body for the police, also started a review of police actions during the G20 meeting, and the provincial government brought in former Ontario chief justice Roy McMurtry to conduct a separate review.