Despite harsh criticism by so many about the conduct of police during the G8-G20 summits in Ontario in 2010, the RCMP watchdog concluded in a report released Monday that unreasonable force was not used by the Mounties.
Created by Parliament, the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP works independently from the national force “to ensure public complaints made about RCMP members are examined fairly and impartially.”
The probe came about after more than two dozen complaints about how police handled the demonstrations in downtown Toronto that June, which resulted in more than 1,000 people being taken into custody during what was, at times, violent protests during the gathering of world leaders.
Among other concerns raised, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said the demonstrators were not allowed to speak to lawyers or family and, as such, innocent members of the public’s constitutional rights were trampled.
But the commission’s investigation, which began in November 2010 and included 38 interviews as well as the review of 40,000 pages of documents and hours of RCMP surveillance video, characterized the RCMP’s conduct as reasonable.
The RCMP were to provide protection to the politicians and dignitaries attending the summit, while “police actions outside these fenced areas were the responsibility and duty of the Toronto Police Service,” the report said.
While the Mounties were involved in three instances of kettling to control the crowds — and the report noted RCMP policy says people should not have been handled in that way — the force was working under the orders of the Toronto police command centre.
“We’re not trying to excuse anyone’s activity, but we go where the evidence takes us,” said Ian McPhail, interim commission chair.
But the watchdog recommends better coordination between various police forces as well as better record keeping by the RCMP, among other suggestions.
While this report by an independent commission says RCMP did not deserve a black eye over the G8-G20 mess, it is only one of many examinations of police conduct in the matter.
The verdict is still out on whether the Toronto and Ontario provincial police handled the situation appropriately and that is under review by other agencies — Ontario’s Office of the Independent Police Review Director and the Toronto Police Services Board.
Until all the reports are in, we’ll reserve judgment.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by editor Robert Koopmans, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, news editor Mike Cornell or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.