G8/G20 security to muzzle legitimate dissent

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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Security needs for the G8/G20 may be "unprecedented" as the government claims, but so is the need for ordinary Canadians to be heard, says the union leader who made headlines at the Montebello summit for his attempts to stop undercover police officers from infiltrating a peaceful protest.

Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union says "as the G8/G20 looms, Canadians want to be assured they can confidently exercise their free speech rights, without the threat of police intimidation and violence, such as we saw the last time."

"Protesters should be guaranteed that the government will not use police to incite violence again. Otherwise, how does legitimate dissent get a hearing?"

"At the same time, world leaders must know that they can come to Canada without having to worry about violence instigated by police agents to discredit those who want to assemble peacefully to express their views."

Coles made headlines when a video of his confrontation with police, one armed with a rock, and wearing black shirts and bandanas went viral on YouTube.

CEP immediately called for an independent judicial inquiry to find out who ordered the police to try to turn a peaceful protest into a violent one, but was told it had to take the case through the Quebec Ethics Committee, established under the Police Act.

That committee agreed to a public hearing, though prosecution of the case was handed over to a public official who has already concluded that the police involved should be excused of wrongdoing.

The union has applied for standing as a party to the hearing before the Ethics Committee with the right to call witnesses and conduct cross examination.

"CEP is committed to getting to the bottom of what really happened at the Montebello Summit in 2007, says Coles. "We will continue to push for an independent judicial inquiry into this whole cover up, and take whatever steps we need to get there."

"But meanwhile, assaults on our freedom of speech must stop," said Coles, noting that G8/G20 security measures have forced the Council of Canadians to relocate its event from the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall. "They have been left scrambling for a new venue where up to 2,000 people can come and hear world leaders speak on important issues."

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