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July 29, 2010

MCCO calls for G20 public inquiry

MCCO letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty


07/27/2010

MCCO's Peace and Poverty staff and program participants were directly affected by the events on the streets of Toronto during the recent G20 summit. As a result, Mennonite Central Committee Ontario added its voice to many others by writing a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty calling for a public inquiry that is transparent, open to public participation, thorough and fair to all involved. The content of the letter follows below.



Dear Premier McGuinty,

Given our long standing commitment to peace, restorative justice and walking with low income people across Ontario, we are writing this letter to add our voice to the call for a comprehensive public inquiry into the events surrounding the G20 in Toronto earlier this month.

Mennonite Central Committee responds to basic human needs and works for peace and justice as a global Anabaptist ministry. We work in some 60 countries around the world. Founded in 1920, we respond to human need, in the name of Christ, through sustainable community development, peacebuilding and disaster response.

Mennonite Central Committee (Ontario) plans and administers this work in Ontario. Our peace, poverty and restorative justice programs are all very active in the Toronto community. The events on the streets of Toronto during the G20 summit as directly witnessed by our staff and program participants have left us with many questions and concerns regarding safety and security for all, including low income people, shop-keepers, police, state leaders, and the thousands of citizens who came to voice their concerns at the G20 summit. A key issue is related to the plans for, and implementation of security in the Security Zone. We lament the fact that the G20 meetings, that had the potential to address poverty and human needs around the world, have instead contributed to further pain and suffering in the host community.

We join many others who have called for a public inquiry that is transparent, open to public participation, thorough and fair to all involved. For example, we note that the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has issued a report raising alarms over tactics police used during the G20, including mass arrests and systemic searches. The report concludes: “In an effort to locate and disable 100-150 vandals, the police disregarded the constitutional rights of thousands.” We also hope that a broad based inquiry will address issues beyond policing. These could include reviewing the methods that were employed for maintaining security, the implementation of the Public Works Protection Act and exploration of alternative security methods that could have been used.

We hope that the lessons learned from a comprehensive public inquiry will be shared broadly so that others can learn from this experience. Mennonite Central Committee Ontario would welcome an invitation to participate in an inquiry and look forward to your response to our request.

Respectfully,

Dan Driedger

Acting Executive Director

Mennonite Central Committee Ontario

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