Friday, July 16, 2010


More and more civil society groups are joining the call for a public inquiry into the police actions at the recent G20 summit in Toronto. All this while three days ago Conservative members of a parliamentary committee blocked it from recommending such an inquiry. The tactic was simple...keep on talking, and talking and talking until the committee had to adjourn.

One of the most recent groups to speak up is the Canadian Auto Workers' union (CAW). Here's their statement from their website.

CAW Joins Call for Public Inquiry into G20 Police Actions

The CAW has joined with dozens of progressive organizations in condemning the curtailment of civil liberties during the G20 Summit and calling for a full, independent public inquiry into police actions in an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The detention of over 1000 citizens, many of whom were innocent bystanders, has been the subject of intense public criticism levied at the federal and provincial governments in recent weeks in the wake of G20 meetings held in Toronto on June 26-27. Of primary concern is the arbitrary nature in which these arrests took place, the extension of power granted to police in and around the security perimeter, along with the excessive force used by police and unsanitary and unsafe conditions for those detained.

The actions of police and a small group of protestors, unconnected with the People's First rally, and the excessively strong-armed police actions marred what was a very large and peaceful demonstration in Toronto that involved tens of thousands of labour union, student and social justice activists, including hundreds of CAW members from all across Ontario.

Demonstrators, representing a wide cross-section of Canadian civil society organizations and various progressive causes, called on G20 leaders to ensure the issues of decent work, environmental sustainability and action against global poverty were at the top of their meeting agenda, including the need to promote more extensive economic recovery efforts and prevent future economic crises by adopting a global tax on financial transactions.

A large contingent of women activists lead the peaceful march, demanding that Stephen Harper reverse his decision to exclude abortion among the various maternal health-promotion measures that G20 nations will support in developing countries around the world.

CAW President Ken Lewenza, who participated in the demonstration, called the rally a tremendous success. "I'm always inspired by the resolve of our activists who are willing to stand up against injustice and raise their voices to demand a better, more equal and humane world - especially in the face of an intimidating police presence."

Most national and international media attention of the day focused on events that transpired after the peaceful demonstration had wound its way back to Queen's Park, when a small group of protestors and self-identified anarchists were shown participating in acts of vandalism.

A full copy of the open letter can be found on the Canadian Federation of Students website:

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