Ontario walks back new police powers following backlash

Changes to Ontario's new restrictions could be coming soon

The new restrictions are meant to stop the spread of COVID-19, and ban any non-essential travel into Ontario.

Several municipal police forces across the province, including the Ottawa Police Service, said Friday and Saturday that they would not be conducting "random" stops of pedestrians or drivers to enforce the stay-at-home order.

"If a police officer or other provincial offences officer has reason to suspect that you are participating in an organized public event or social gathering, they may require you to provide information to ensure you are complying with restrictions", a statement from the office of the Solicitor General reads.

The measures place more restrictions on outdoor gatherings, grant police new powers, and cap limits on the size of weddings, funerals, and religious services.

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.

Politicians have also criticized the enhanced police powers and called on the premier to reverse them entirely. "Instead, he's recklessly chosen policing over public health - a move that will needlessly target racialized Ontarians who are already shouldering a disproportionate share of the pandemic's negative impact", Del Duca said.

"We will be taking a deliberate and careful approach that emphasizes equity, legality, and efficacy in the application of these authorities with the specific and exclusive goal to support public health measures".

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced new extreme public health restrictions that tightened existing restrictions and enacted new, even stricter COVID rules. Outdoor gatherings are restricted to members of the same household - though people who live alone can join another household.

Decision comes hours after Health Minister Patty Hajdu said there's no reason the vaccine can't be given to anyone 18 and older.

"Racialized minorities, Indigenous, Black people, people of colour will be stopped and will be during this time, living in fear", Bryant said.

"I would like to reassure our citizens that our officers will not be conducting random vehicle or individual stops", Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said on Saturday.

Ontario Provincial Police will have checkpoints set up along the Ontario-Quebec border in eastern Ontario and those not travelling for essential reasons will be refused entry in Ontario.

Motorists approaching the interprovincial borders, in either direction, are asked to be prepared for slow-moving traffic.

Big box stores can remain open, but at only 25 per cent capacity.



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