What of the G20 and the largest mass arrest in Canadian history?

Ontario’s Office of the Independent Police Review Director released last week its review of the G20 summit in Toronto. Among other issues, the report notes the federal government’s late announcement of the summit’s location.

As part of its membership in the G8 and G20, Canada committed to host the 2010 G8 and G20 summits. In June 2008 the Canadian prime minister announced that the G8 summit would be held on June 25 and 26, 2010, in the small town of Huntsville, Ontario, about 200 kilometres or three hours’ drive from Toronto. Not until December 2009 did the federal government announce that the G20 would be held in Toronto on June 26 and 27. The Metro Toronto Convention Centre was officially chosen as the  venue on February 19, 2010. That left the federal and provincial authorities with just four months to plan the security and policing needs for the summit. As a result of these short timelines, planning was rushed and inadequate, leading to a breakdown in executing many of the operations during the event itself.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews dismissed questions about the summit during QP last week. In doing so, he claimed to quote a New Democrat.

The NDP has made wild allegations about the actions of our national police force, such as, “Canada is becoming a police state, where the toe of an officer’s boot or punch in the gut is the rule of law.”

Unfortunately, it’s not clear whether any New Democrat has ever actually said this. I’ve asked Mr. Toews’ office to explain the reference, but have yet to hear back. (Update 3:51pm. The minister’s office confirms that Mr. Toews was quoting the Star’s paraphrase.)

A Google search shows that those words, with qualification, appear in a December 2010 report about a news conference convened by the NDP’s Don Davies. But as the reporter’s paraphrase of what Mr. Davies had to say.

NDP MP Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) told a news conference on Parliament Hill earlier that not to hold a public inquiry is to accept that Canada is becoming a police state where the toe of an officer’s boot or punch in the gut is the rule of law.

You can download the full audio of the news conference here (note: large file), but, to my ear, the closest Mr. Davies comes to actually saying something of this sort is the following.

What we need is a full public inquiry. We need a judicial inquiry. We need an independent inquiry. We need an inquiry with full powers to hear sworn evidence, subpoena witnesses and compel the production of all relevant documents. If not, one of the most shameful and largest mass violations of Canadians rights by police and the state in Canadian history will go totally unredressed. We live in a democratic state. We do not live in a police state. We live in a country that is supposed to be governed by the rule of law, not the rule of force.

The transcript of that day’s committee hearings is here.

For what it’s worth, Mr. Davies has no recollection of ever using the phrases now cited by Mr. Toews as a direct quote.