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Canadian police granted new powers to control summits

Police were secretly granted extraordinary powers to arrest and detain people during the Group of 20 summit of world financial leaders in Toronto this weekend.

The Ontario government enacted a regulation allowing police to stop and search anyone coming within about 16 feet of the site's security fence.

Anyone refusing to show identification, as a man did Thursday and was detained for five hours, can be arrested.

Police Chief Bill Blair said he requested the change —- criticized by some as a violation of civil rights — for "clear authority to enable us to maintain a secure perimeter."

The regulation modifies an act allowing police to search people entering public buildings such as courthouses. It will expire Monday after the summit ends.

Opposition politicians say the law was amended quietly and without their consultation.

"Secret laws that result in people's arrest and detention like this one are the hallmarks of tin-pot dictatorships," said Peter Kormos of the New Democratic Party.

As the Group of 8 meeting of world leaders, including President Barack Obama, took place north of Toronto in Huntsville, Ontario, a judge allowed police to use ear-piercing sound cannons for crowd control at both gatherings, if necessary.

The court put limits on the use of the cannons to their voice function only but not at their highest deafening levels.

Arrest uncovers weapons cache

Police in Ottawa uncovered hundreds of rounds of military-grade ammunition while arresting three "anarchists."

The three men face trial for arson in the May 18 firebombing of a Royal Bank branch that caused $500,000 in damage. Two of those arrested also face mischief charges for a February attack on the bank in which windows and automated teller machines were damaged with rocks and a hammer.

After the firebombing, an Ottawa-based anarchist group said the attack was motivated by the bank's sponsorship of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics held on aboriginal territorial lands.

News in brief

• Governor General Michaelle Jean, whose five-year term as Queen Elizabeth II's representative in Canada ends in September, has been named the United Nations special envoy to Haiti. Jean will help rebuild the heritage infrastructure and education system of her homeland that was devastated in an earthquake in January. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who hasn't yet named the next governor general, said Jean's appointment is a "tribute to Canada's leadership role in rebuilding Haiti."

• The earth moved prior to the arrival of foreign leaders for the G8 and G20 summits in Ontario with an earthquake near Canada's capital followed five hours later by a tornado. The 5.0-magnitude earthquake on Wednesday was centered in Quebec north of Ottawa, with tremors felt in Toronto and across southern Ontario and the northern United States. Some buildings, roads and bridges were damaged in Quebec, but there were no injuries. That night in Midland, a tornado destroyed about 50 houses and left 8,000 people without power. Police said nine people were injured but there were no deaths.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar is lower at 96.49 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0364 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate remains at 0.5 percent while the prime lending rate is 2.5 percent.

Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,740 points and the TSX Venture Exchange 1,455 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 16, 18, 21, 36, 46, 48; bonus 47. (June 19) 11, 18, 27, 29, 32, 39; bonus 1. Lotto Max: (June 18) 5, 6, 26, 29, 34, 36, 43; bonus 49.

Regional briefs

• Floodwaters washed away a section of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Maple Creek near the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. Temporary repairs were being made to reopen one lane in each direction by this weekend and until the roadway can be rebuilt over the next month. Floods also damaged rail lines while many farmers reported losing their crops throughout the Prairies.

• Advancing to Boardwalk on the Canadian version of the Monopoly board game will land players on Chatham-Kent. The Ontario region earned the most sought-after spot on the board by an online vote while Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu in Quebec snagged Park Place. Toronto ended up in the low-rent district along with Vancouver and Ottawa with the light-blue properties, while lowest-valued spaces are Beauceville, Quebec, and Banff, Alberta.

Jim Fox can be reached at [email protected]

Canadian police granted new powers to control summits 06/26/10 [Last modified: Saturday, June 26, 2010 9:31pm]
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