by Joe Martino
On April 16th Ontario premier Doug Ford announced stricter lockdown measures, including that Ontario police, both provincial and municipal, will have the power to stop citizens and ask them where they are going in order to find out if their travel outside their home is essential or whether they may be attending a social gathering.
If this sounds draconian to you, you’re certainly no alone. And the police seem to think so too.
As of the evening of April 17th, just one day later, 39 or 44 municipal police departments in Ontario have stated they will not comply with this measure and stop citizens to ask where they are going.
However, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have remained onboard with the measures on social media. The tally came from investigative reporter Andrew Lawton who took it upon himself to hear from departments themselves.
I should note that in addition to these 45 there are also nine self-administered First Nations police services in Ontario, several of which came out against these powers as well. Included in these are the Rama and Six Nations police services.
— Andrew Lawton (@AndrewLawton) April 18, 2021
Since the rejection, the Ontario government has begun changing it’s mind on the measure:
BREAKING: The Ontario government is backtracking on allowing police to randomly and without cause stop and question people for not being at home (after 39/45 Ontario police agencies said they wouldn't do it). pic.twitter.com/ivKhACm2Uq
— Andrew Lawton (@AndrewLawton) April 17, 2021
Why It Matters
This is a great example of how power is only enforced when people participate.
In this case, if law enforcement went through with this, ‘the people’ wouldn’t have much of an obvious way to resist these measures, but when law enforcement denies draconian measures like this, the power the government has is restricted significantly.
Early this morning I was speaking to a fellow journalist here at CE talking about how for most people working on the police force, this measure would probably feel like one of the first times they very obviously had to ‘take things too far.’
To see only 12 hours later that the vast majority of police are standing up to this is a good sign that enforcers of rules are open to questioning their government. In my opinion, I hope this trend continues.
I also found it interesting to note that holding government accountable used to be something mainstream media would do, but now they only seem complicit in going along with government.
Independent media now is tasked with the job, all while they face funding challenges and claims from mainstream and social media that independent media is not trustworthy.