Dalton Trudeau

The Ontario Premier gets comparative.

In a closed-door meeting with MPPs on Wednesday, McGuinty deflected questions from members unhappy at the heavy-handedness of police in dealing with protesters—and the government’s complicity in failing to correct the mistaken impression officers had been given more powers.

“He told us, ‘Just remember, the same guy who gave us the Charter also gave us the War Measures Act,’” said one startled MPP, noting the premier also refuted calls from several members to strike a public inquiry into the G20 debacle.

In fairness to Pierre Trudeau, the War Measures Act was enacted in 1914, he merely invoked it in 1970.

For the sake of comparison though…

In the weeks after the kidnappings of the British Trade Commissioner and a Quebec cabinet minister by a militant group in October 1970, with the War Measures Act effectively overriding civil liberties, 468 people were arrested.

Two weeks ago, with a few police cars torched and various shop windows smashed in downtown Toronto, and amid much apparent confusion over the extent of police powers around the G20 summit site, something like 1,000 people were arrested.

The former is one of the most controversial and divisive chapters in this nation’s history. The latter, while not quite yet so seminal, has apparently at least inspired the 24th premier of Ontario to reference the former.