We have always known in Canada that there are laws lying in wait to trash the Charter of Rights hovering just beyond the sight lines of the courts. The Public Works Protection Act is just such a law, allowing, albeit for a limited time, otherwise illegal searches and seizures and arrests.
Here, constitutional lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo, lead commission council at the Walkerton and Maher Arar inquiries, goes through the act with Paul Jay of The Real News. Transcript here.
I have some further questions.
If I live within an arbitrarily designated "public works area", can Blackwater or a mall rent-a-cop or any other appointed "guard" legally enter my home and arrest me for attempting to deny them entry? Will they be armed?
If I don't consent to being ID'd and searched on my way to work, can I legally be prevented from going to work? I cannot prove this, as it is only anecdotal, but during the Vancouver Olympics, a contractor told me he lost an employee due to said employee being denied passage through Vancouver by the police for the duration of the Olympics for having written an anti-Olympics letter to the local paper that was never published.
If any of the protesters/shoppers/citizens arrested and detained in handcuffs for 24 hours and jammed in a 10 by 12 by 20 foot cage along with 40 other men are not formally charged and given their day in court, will there be no other opportunity to challenge these arbitrary Charter-free zones until the next time they are dusted off for a globalization bunfest?
And finally, why is Chief Bill Blair on the hot seat for having been given these extraordinary powers he didn't ask for when it was presumably the PMO that told the Ontario cabinet to ask for them?
Any responses from legal experts gratefully accepted.
In the meantime, while the Toronto's Police Services Board which holds Toronto Police to account sees no need for a public inquiry, support the Canadian Civil Liberties Association's petition to "repeal or amendment of the Public Works Protection Act to meet basic constitutional standards"