I know that lots of curious Torontonians are going to be heading downtown to check out the protests and the giant fence and the thousands of police officers– or to protest themselves. If you plan to head down that way, you should know about the Public Works Protection Act.
This act quietly came into power on June 21st via the Ontario Cabinet– it is a regulation so did not require the Ontario Legislature to read it. It was only ‘discovered’ when Dave Vasey was arrested under it for not producing ID (following the laws that apply everywhere else in the city.)
The Public Works Protection Act gives police special powers in the Yellow Zone and within the immediate vicinity (5m) of the Yellow Zone. This is the area just outside of the fence and inside the fence and is described in offical legalese detail here in the act itself. On this map, the Yellow Zone is helpfully outlined in yellow— it’s the fence. But you are inside this area if you are outside but within 5m of the fence. Clear?
Within this area, special police powers apply, defined here. I quote:
A guard or peace officer,(a) may require any person entering or attempting to enter any public work or any approach thereto to furnish his or her name and address, to identify himself or herself and to state the purpose for which he or she desires to enter the public work, in writing or otherwise;
(b) may search, without warrant, any person entering or attempting to enter a public work or a vehicle in the charge or under the control of any such person or which has recently been or is suspected of having been in the charge or under the control of any such person or in which any such person is a passenger; and
(c) may refuse permission to any person to enter a public work and use such force as is necessary to prevent any such person from so entering. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.55, s. 3.
In normal-people language: You can be asked to show ID and to state your reasons for being there, you (and your car) can be searched and you can be refused entry.
If you refuse:
5.(1)Every person who neglects or refuses to comply with a request or direction made under this Act by a guard or peace officer, and every person found upon a public work or any approach thereto without lawful authority, the proof whereof lies on him or her, is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $500 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two months, or to both.Arrest
(2)A guard or peace officer may arrest, without warrant, any person who neglects or refuses to comply with a request or direction of a guard or peace officer, or who is found upon or attempting to enter a public work without lawful authority. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.55, s. 5.
They can arrest you!
The police (referred to as guards) have rules too, so you might want to know what those are as well.
All in all, if you’re in this zone and if you’re acting suspiciously (remember it’s how you look, not what your intentions actually are) you’re liable to be questioned and searched. I think that compliance is probably in your best interest.
The city returns to normal, barring, I guess, mass chaos, soon:
2. This Regulation is revoked on June 28, 2010.
So fear not!