As an activist-driven organisation, it’s completely understandable why Elizabeth May and other Green Party candidates are more sensitive to policing issues than others. It’s almost a right of passage for a Green to get arrested, May holds the distinction being of the only party leader who’s willing to get arrested for interrupting projects approved by the government she claims to represent and defend.
Years of playing cat-and-mouse with the police appear to have taken their toll on Elizabeth May. She’s said some pretty loopy things over the past years- crazy shit like declaring that “breaking windows isn’t violent” during the G20, insinuating that the RCMP planted guns and IEDs at the Elsipogtog fracking protests, and recently signing-up the party to support a harebrained claim that the RCMP were planning “mass arrests” of the small handful of protesters at the Unist’ot’en Camp.
Far from the militant environmentalists of BC and New Brunswick, the quasi-suburban Toronto riding of Scarborough-Southwest was immune to the Elizabeth May’s law enforcement delusion syndrome. But now with former police chief Bill Blair running for the Liberals, facing a new Green Party opponent who was arrested during the 2010 G20, the people of Scarborough sit at ground zero of the Green’s war against the police. And just to make things more interesting, their candidate is being assisted by one of the three women who filed criminal complaints against Gregory Alan Elliott.
In the months leading up to Toronto’s 2010 G20 meeting activists from labour, environmental, and hardcore “smash the state” anarchists promised there’d be a fight. The city and police forces prepared for the onslaught building a fence around parts of downtown Toronto and filling the city with police officers from Toronto, neighbouring municipalities, the Ontario Provincial Police, and the RCMP.
While the G20’s Integrated Security Unit did a great job protecting the fence from the activist’s call to “tear it down”, the tactics they chose to use against the protesters were a massive fail. Lost in the crowd (who did little to nothing to discourage this behaviour) a group of about 100 hardcore “Black Bloc” protesters smashed through the city like the “wrecking ball” their leaders promised months before.
The police knew this was coming, and orchestrated a number of key arrests early in the mornin- hours before the construction started. A core set of protesters were labelled as the G20 Main Conspiracy group- key leaders who were arrested included Alex Hundert, Mandy Hiscocks, Syed Hussan, and Leah Henderson. One of their main spokespersons is Claudia Calaboro- who, along with Leah Henderson, now works as an assistant to city councillor Shelley Carroll (who sits on the police board).
What happened next blew the minds of just about every Canadian who’s read or watched a story about the G20. Rather than focussing on the core group of troublemakers (or perhaps because they couldn’t), cops in riot gear took action against peaceful protesters. Some protesters were kettled, boxed in by riot police from all sides, mass arrested and thrown into a makeshift jail in an old movie studio. The incident was rightly labeled as one of the worst human rights abuses in the history of Canadian policing.
Tommy Taylor was one of the allegedly non-violent protesters who found himself locked-up in a G20 cage. He wrote a Facebook posting on his release with a detailed description of his experience- including complaints about lack of water, privacy, and a rave review of the anarchist rap group Test Their Logik’s performance from inside of their cage (anarchists who sing promoting smashy, smashy culture). Riding the wave of his viral Facebook posting, Taylor wrote a G20 play titled You Should Have Stayed Home.
Taylor’s play was first picked-up by Summerworks, a controversial Toronto theatre company who got into hot water after running a play about the Toronto 18 terror group. The play later went on tour across the country, the crowdfunding fundraiser was hardly enough to fund such a large project.
Campaigning Against Bill Blair
Taylor announced his candidacy, backed by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, on August 4th. His launch video gives the impression he’s primarily focussed on attacking Bill Blair for his part leading Toronto police during the G20- calling on Blair to an open debate on the G20, then other “critical issues”, claiming:
“There are so many critical issues facing this country that I’m eager to to talk about, and I’m sure you’re eager to talk about too. But first, if you want to be a lawmaker in Ottawa, we have to talk about the G20.”
Curiously, when you scroll down to the bottom of Taylor’s Green Party webpage, the main contact listed for potential volunteers is Paisley Rae- one of the three alleged victims in the Gregory Alan Elliott Twitter harassment case (Rae was abruptly dropped from the case in mid-testimony).
Claiming to have been motivated by the disaster we saw at the G20, Paisley Rae has since become one of Toronto’s most visible and active policing activists. Rae has produced videos to help the cops solve cases, is credited as a social media contributor to the force’s Police and Community Engagement Review (PACER), was a member of the anti-carding Policing Literacy Initiative, and has travelled as far away as Vancouver participating in conferences with members of the Toronto Police Service.
Rae’s most curious moment happened during the Toronto Police’s 2013 #BoostSM conference in Toronto, featuring TPS’s social media expert Scott Mills and Jeff Bangild- the arresting officer in the Gregory Alan Elliott case. Mills presented on TPS and social media, Bangild made a presentation on his “victorious” capture and arrest of Gregory Alan Elliott. Mill’s posting about the event thanks Paisley Rae for “live blogging” while both officers made their presentations.
The creep, creep, creepiest part of what looks like a potential conflict-of-interest was Banglid’s slide about how he caught the “perp”. Though it had zero impact on his ability to identify who Elliott was (he wasn’t hiding), Blanglid somehow thought it was appropriate to include a picture of Elliott and his sons. The pictures were blurred, but there was enough information on all of the slides to quickly identify who he was talking about- a man who has yet to have been convicted (outside of the Toronto Star that is).
It’s all kind of strange, isn’t it? If one was cynical it would be easy to assume that the Greens are making a mockery out of Scarborough’s voters as part of their long history of vendettas and attacks against the police. Or, perhaps there’s something more to the story? Stay tuned for more on the Elliott case soon- it gets curiouser and curiouser the deeper we dig…
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