Legal Settlement Over Police Abuse At 2010 Toronto G20 Summit is “Disappointing”, Says Niagara Resident Who Suffered that Abuse

Now Retired Revenue Canada Employee John Pruyn Had  His Artificial Leg Ripped Off by Cops, Before Being Locked in a Cage for a Weekend, Then Dumped on the Streets of Toronto like  Garbage,  Without Any Explanation

This Should Never Happen in Our Canada! Never!

A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted August 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Disappointing, indeed!

John Pruyn and his prosthetic leg, being dragged away by riot police, on the lawns of Queen’s Park in Toronto in June 2020.

John Pruyn, a Niagara, Ontario resident and now-retired Revenue Canada employee, has every right to feel that way about a measly $16.5 million in compensation that will be divided between himself and more than 1,000 other Canadians haphazardly swept up, during the G20 Summit in Toronto 10 years ago, in the largest mass arrest of citizens in this country’s history.

That amount of compensation – quoted in a Settlement Agreement revealed between lawyers for the citizens and Toronto Police Services Board this August 17th – means that those arrested in this disgraceful display of police abuse and trampling of Canadians’ rights to freely assemble in the streets and parks of their own communities, will only each be eligible for compensation  between $5,000 and $24,700, depending on how egregious the acts committed against them were.

John Pruyn, a guy who has never had anything approaching a criminal record, and who had a full-time job with Revenue Canada and a hobby farm in Welland at the time he went to peaceful demonstrations on the lawns of Queen’s Park during that week in June, 2010 when G20 leaders were meeting in Toronto, always stressed to this journalist and others that he was never really in this class-action suit against the police for the money

A recent photo of John Pruyn and his wife, Susan, now living in the Niagara, Ontario municipality of Pelham

For him and for many others, it was more about making the perpetrators of these acts publicly accountable for what was a deplorable assault on civil liberties – in a country that prides itself as an advanced democracy – for all the world to see.

Yet, at the same time, for a settlement to be reached, all these years later, that ads up to a small fraction of the Toronto Police Service’s billion-dollar a year budget, is a slap in the face to the victims of these acts.

“I am disappointed in the settlement, said John Pruyn in a note to me this August 19th. “ It (the compensation) should have been much more.”

“Canadian police systematically abused, robbed and beat thousands of people 10 years ago. They dragged Gabriel Jacobs (another citizen attending peaceful demonstrations) from his wheelchair. They yanked off my (artificial) leg, they stuffed thousands of people into cages.”

To this day, John Pruyn says he, along with others, is still suffering from PTSD from his experience 10 years ago and still has to collect himself from feels of fear when he sees a police officer.

This coming from a person who, according to the late Niagara Centre MPP Peter Kormos who expressed outrage over the 2010 events, was one of the most peaceful persons in his riding that he had ever met.

Along with the loose change this legal settlement tosses to victims, where are the apologies from the likes of the Conservative Party of Canada, whose leader at the time, then prime minister Stephen Harper, hovered over these police riots, and from then-Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, who said nothing while it was unfolding, for the world to see, in his province, and from Bill Blair, then Toronto police chief who now serves as the federal Liberal Government’s public safety minister?

Bill Blair was Toronto Police Chief during the 2010 G20 summit – arguably the most disgraceful mass police assaults on Canadian citizens in this country’s history. What is this guy now doing, serving as Canada’s Minster of Public Safety? Shame on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for putting him there.

John Pruyn reminded me in his note that Bill Blair, who has no business serving in any public safety role for Canadians, was quoted in major newspapers like The Globe and Mail, saying the following in the wake of this disgraceful incident –  

“[There has been] incredible misrepresentation of what that was. It was arallying point for legitimate protests.… There’s no sanctuary from criminality. And what happened is after they rampaged along Queen and up Yonge Street, we watched them. We watched them as they went over to Queen’s Park. We watched them as they changed into other clothes, and we watched them as they hid in the crowd among the people that had gathered at Queen’s Park. We went in to apprehend them.”

Investigation after investigation, including a detailed Ontario Ombudsman’s Report released the year after the 2010 G20 summit, confirmed that multiple, inexcusable abuses were committed by police, yet none of those at the top, from Blair to Harper and McGuinty have ever been willing to accept responsibility, let alone issue a public apology to those swept up in the disgusting mess.

Shame on all of them. And shame on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for appointing an individual like Bill Blair as Canada’s Minister of Public Safety.

Now here is a News Release issued this August 17th by lawyers involved in negotiating the settlement –

TORONTO, Aug. 17, 2020 /CNW/ – After ten years of court proceedings and negotiations, the Toronto Police Services Board and representatives of about 1,100 individuals and public demonstrators who were mass arrested at the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto have signed a comprehensive and unprecedented class action Settlement Agreement.

Showdown after showdown, all weekend long

 The Settlement Agreement is a three-part package that includes individual financial compensation totalling up to $16.5 million for those who were mass arrested and detained, a public police acknowledgement regarding the mass arrests and the conditions in which protestors where detained, and a police commitment to detailed changes regarding policing of future public demonstrations.  The Settlement Agreement also provides for the expungement of police records of those allegedly wrongfully mass arrested.

Under the Settlement Agreement, those arrested will be entitled to monetary compensation of between $5,000 and $24,700 per person, depending on their experiences. 

During the G20 Summit of world leaders held in Toronto in June of 2010, many public demonstrations were organized on public issues such as climate change, global poverty and other issues.  Thousands of protestors demonstrated peacefully, but the protests were also accompanied by deliberate vandalism by some individuals.

Police in riot gear, form a line in Toront, Ontario in June, 2020

 Toronto police reacted by encircling large groups of hundreds of protestors in several locations in downtown Toronto with cordons of riot police, holding them for hours, and then transferring many of them to a temporary Detention Centre where hundreds of protestors were held in extremely harsh conditions. Ontario’s Ombudsman at the time called what happened “the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history”.

Some of the many make-shift cages that John Pruyn and hundreds of others were locked in during that June 2010 weekend.

The lawsuit was launched in August of 2010 by Sherry Good as legal representative of the approximately 1,100 class members, later joined by Thomas Taylor.  Toronto Police Services objected to the class action proceedings in court, and class action status was not finalized until a police appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was dismissed in November of 2016.

Class Representative Sherry Good said:  “The terrifying way in which I and 400 others were suddenly and arbitrarily surrounded and held by riot police on a street corner for four hours in a freezing downpour changed forever the way I look at police, continues to give me chills.  I believe that this Settlement Agreement does bring about some justice, and I hope, and I think, that our freedom of expression rights will now be better respected for a long time to come.”

Thomas Taylor, also a Class Representative, said “For me and hundreds of others, being suddenly surrounded and held captive by frightening numbers of riot police when we had done nothing at all, going through violent and unlawful arrests, and then being thrown into a nightmare detention centre, was a stunning and horrifying experience.  I had never imagined that such a thing could happen in Canada, but that experience showed me how very fragile civil liberties are for so many of us.  I truly hope that this Settlement Agreement will help make sure that such a thing never happens again.”

The class action was lead from the beginning by Toronto litigation lawyers Murray Klippenstein and Eric Gillespie.  According to Gillespie, “When these events happened many Canadians could not believe they happened in Canada. The settlement appears to fairly recognize through financial compensation, acknowledgements and reforms that they shouldn’t have happened and will never happen again”.

Largest mass arrests in Canadian history

Murray Klippenstein commented that “Canada had never seen anything like what happened at the G20 Summit, and hopefully it never will again.  We are hopeful that this settlement will bring some justice and some relief to class members, and that we all, including the police, can benefit in the future from the acknowledgements and commitments to policing improvements that are built into the Settlement Agreement”.

Under Ontario class action laws, a class action settlement agreement must be reviewed by a Superior Court Judge for final approval, and the Settlement Agreement is scheduled for an approval hearing before Justice Edward Belobaba on October 19, 2020.

Lawyers Klippenstein and Gillespie have urged anyone who was present in June of 2010 and who might be eligible for compensation to contact them or to review the G20 class action website.  A copy of the Settlement Agreement is available on the website for review.

SOURCE Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation

John and Susan Pruyn in July, 2010 at their home then, in the Niagara, Ontario municipality of Thorold. Photo by Doug Draper

For a related report from CBC News on this, click on – https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/settlement-class-action-g20-summit-1.5689329

For a first-hand account of what happened during the t the 2010 G20 summit, from John Pruyn, click on https://niagaraatlarge.com/2020/07/29/a-niagara-ontario-mans-first-person-account-of-a-hellish-encounter-with-police/

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“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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