Ontario walks back new police powers following backlash

Changes to Ontario's new restrictions could be coming soon

Changes to Ontario's new restrictions could be coming soon

In the wake of new COVID-19 pandemic restrictions announced by the province, but before the announced rollback of these guidelines, Guelph police joined many other police forces across Ontario who don't plan on conducting random vehicle or person stops.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says officers will no longer have the right to stop any pedestrian or vehicle to ask why they are out or request their home address.

As part of the Ford government's enhanced stay-at-home measures announced Friday, non-essential travel into Ontario from Manitoba and Quebec is restricted and a person may be stopped by police who may ask questions as to their goal for coming into the province.

Further restrictions to limit mobility have also been put in place, along with the authority for police to enforce the regulations while the stay-at-home order is in effect.

Philip Semple, a former Toronto police officer and the co-ordinator of Centennial College's Police Foundations program, told CTV News Channel on Saturday that the measures are problematic because there may be differing views among police and provincial officials on enforcement.

Civil libertarians, politicians and analysts have condemned the added police powers. Now, the province said police may stop individuals only if they are suspected of participating in an organized event or social gathering.

The closing of outdoor spaces puzzled many public health experts, who said the measures didn't make sense.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the new measures on Friday, but revised them the next day following public backlash.

"Let's be very real here: We are not going to police our way out of the pandemic", he said. It has since modified parts of that order relating to park playgrounds and policing powers. "The (department) will NOT be randomly stopping vehicles for no reason during the pandemic or afterwards", Halton Police Chief Steve Tanner tweeted.

As of Monday, the government is limiting the capacity of weddings, funerals and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 10 people indoors or outdoors, as well as prohibiting social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, except with members of the same household. "The reality here is that this will likely impact Black, Indigenous, and people of colour".

According to the provincial government, non-essential construction includes shopping malls, hotels, and office towers.

Starting on Monday, OPP will also be posted at checkpoints at Ontario's borders with Manitoba and Quebec.

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King has asked health officials to undertake a scan of the province's current COVID-19 situation and determine if any health human resources could be sent to help Ontario.

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