What about Blair’s role at the G20?

Are Canadians supposed to believe that Toronto police Chief Bill Blair is just an unindicted co-conspirator in the illegal actions of the Toronto police during the G20 in Toronto in 2010? It is somewhat late for him to claim that he did not know that he was breaching the rights of Canadian citizens during the police actions of that dreadful weekend. Simply getting rid of Blair is not the answer.

Toronto Police Superintendant David (Mark) Fenton is currently the only senior officer charged and is now before a tribunal under the Police Services Act. He is charged with five acts of unlawful arrest and discreditable conduct during that weekend when some 1100 people were arrested and detained. It seems Supt. Fenton was the officer who ordered the unwarranted kettling incidents of walkers and gawkers in downtown Toronto, nowhere near the G20 meetings. His lawyer claims that Mr. Fenton’s defence is that while he ordered the arrests, he was not responsible for how officers carried out his orders. (Seriously, his lawyer is quoted saying that by the Toronto Star, Nov. 21/14.)

This defence is what brings us back to William Blair. Canadian police forces are organized as quasi-military organizations and there is always a well defined chain of command. The initial and ongoing training of police officers is designed to ensure an understanding and proper follow-through of orders from those officers over you. Senior officers who give ambiguous orders do not remain officers for long. Police officers of all ranks who prove they cannot follow legal orders from superior officers do not stay long on a properly run police force.

And the buck stops in the office of the Chief of Police. That confusing array of emblems on Bill Blair’s uniform epaulets say he is the boss. He is responsible. If people under him are not trained to do their job as ordered, it is the chief’s problem.

What everyone needs to understand is that Toronto, Ontario is not Ferguson, Missouri. Canadian police had never used kettling tactics before June 2010. They do not need army surplus equipment with which to frighten citizens. Canadian police should never have to block, contain or arrest citizens who are lawfully on the street.

Toronto police have a long way to go to recover from the damage done to their reputation in that summer weekend in 2010. There were politicians to blame aplenty. There were confusing orders given to the Toronto Chief of Police. He had the responsibility to have them clarified. He did not. He was wrong. His police acted improperly. He is to blame.

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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