Where have you gone, Terry Milewski? - Macleans.ca

Where have you gone, Terry Milewski?


Twitter is all-a-twitter about the secret law passed by the Ontario legislature giving police extraordinary search and arrest powers, with many people comparing it to the War Measures Act.  A few comments:

1. No one should be surprised that McGuinty went along with the request. Nothing, absolutely nothing, that McGuinty has said or done in his time as premier should lead anyone to suspect that he gives a fig about civil liberties. We’re talking here about a man who won the last election by promising to retain special education funding for Catholics, but only Catholics.

2. This is hardly the first time a Canadian government has done something like this.  In 1997, the RCMP spent the better part of the APEC summit harassing, arresting, and pepper-spraying students who were annoyed at the presence of an Indonesian dictator on their campus. Terry Milewski — who should not have to buy himself drinks in this country — did  outstanding work on the way the government and RCMP had turned UBC into a “Charter-Free Zone”. For his work, the CBC thanked him by hanging him out to dry.

3. UBC law prof Wesley Pue wrote a number of  pieces, both journalistic and scholarly, on how deeply corrupt the whole thing was. He edited a book, Pepper in Our Eyes, that remains a must-read and will likely serve as a decent primer on what is going on in Toronto right now.

4. The Prime Minister of the day thought it was quite hilarious.


Where have you gone, Terry Milewski?

  1. Emily, It is safe to use the word "sweeping" any time a police officer is given the right to search me without a warrant merely for being in the vicinity of a fence. What's more, anytime that new power is given without a debate by elected representatives, you can use the world "secret".

    And for the record, I am not a protester. I support the G20 and G8. But this is absurd. And dare I add, a law like this could only be swallowed by the extraordinarily passive electorate in Ontario.

    • It's quite lawful, and neither sweeping nor secret. Such paranoia.

      • It is pretty sweeping when you suspend charter rights. I dont know, perhaps its just me. Chretien paid a big political price for what happened at APEC. Will Harper?

        • The law is in operation every day and has been for years. There is nothing new about it.

          Chretien had 3 successful majority govts.

          • The law only applies until Sunday night and expires when the G20 is over.

          • In that one area, yes.

          • Emily,

            There are (at least) three problems with your view that this measure is not new, sweeping or secret:

            1. Blair sought expanded powers only in June.
            2. The expanded powers declare a vast swathe of downtown Toronto, including private homes, condos, buildings and businesses to be "public works" … that's a heck of a definitional stretch.
            3. Neither the residents and workers in the affected area, nor the people of the province nor the legislature or opposition were informed of these new definitions and powers, let alone the Ontario Bar Assoc. Indeed, the "it won't be published until after the event" aspect indicates that those involved wanted this kept quiet.

            The residents and workers of the affected area were NOT told that their Charter and legal rights were being temporarily suspended for the G20.

            It didn't have to be this way. The Ontario Government and police could have acted above board. They didn't, which is why people are pissed. Better yet, Parliament could have amended the vague post-APEC provisions covering international gatherings and spelled out temporary police powers … but that would require a respect for democracy and the rule of law.


        • will Harper?

          That's probably what McGuinty's counting on.

        • Did they actually suspend Charter rights through s. 33? Because that would be one of only a small handful of times.

          It's more likely that there are constitutional problems with this bill that just haven't been challenged yet.

          • People have never read either the constitution or the charter.

    • hey Scott, while i agree w/ your assessment that the law is both sweeping and secret (not to mention abhorrent as long we are tossing around adjectives), I find your jab at Ontario to be not lame, but also illogical. Pls do tell how the Ontarians could have 'swallowed', if it was secret (as I thought we agreed).

  2. Reminds me of backpacking around Israel many years ago. Tension is constant. And for good reason.

    • For good reason? Are you comparing the threat posed by those addled G20 protesters to the threat Israel faces from Syria, Jordan, Hamas, Hezbollah, and a nuclear armed Iran? Really?

      • A threat by any other name is still a threat. Perhaps is some protesters grew up and stopped smashing things, this wouldn't have to be.

        • Besides which, I'd characterize firebombing a bank to be a little more than just "smashing things".

      • No, but had to open all daypacks/purses for searching and when entering dept stores etc. Lots of bombs on buses etc. This was over 20 yrs ago.

        • Why is this worse then people attending a rock concert being patted down before entering or why when going into some facilities your purse is searched to be sure you are not carring bottled water etc. that the concession stands want to sell you? i would want to be assured that some"nut" who is out to destroy, is not carrying any weapons.Put the blame where it belongs and when protestors show responsibilty then complain about police action.

  3. "For me, pepper, I put it on my plate."

    Certainly don't miss the butchered syntax that was inimitably Chretien's.

    • Perhaps but we always remember the butchered syntax much better than the polished.

  4. I'd consider myself to be a pretty staunch supporter of democracy – and I really do think the overall focus and cost of these summits is way over the top. Nothing like this effort is being expended upon the Queen's protection next week – and I am sure there are others who may well be focusing on that oversight – or slight if you like!
    I'm sure if there was a security incident because the Queen's entourage was penetrated – PM Harper and his security advisors will have an awful lot of egg over their faces.
    However, I do think that the police approaching the higher authority for the very limited legal approval to do what is necessary in the moment is acceptable. Because the authority is so clearly prescribed – any officer exceeding that authority will be doubly under scrutiny.
    And while we are all focused on the debacle in Toronto – an individual in Collingwood was tasered yesterday – and died apparently because of use of that device!

  5. And in reply to Mr. Potter's cheap shot at Dalton McGuinty. As to Civil Liberties and Human Rights – he has renewed – for the second time under his watch – the mandate of Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian – who has been a particularly visible and determined advocate for the protection of the privacy of our personal information – Privacy "the right to be left alone" – and he has done much – although still far short of ideal – to restore some element of fairness in the courts by streamlining processes and increasing legal aid support.
    Contrasts pretty powerfully with PM Harper – who certainly can wear the cloak of secrecy appropriately!