Keeping people out – the G20 and beyond

It’s hard not to be thinking about the G-20 and all that has happened in Toronto this past weekend.  In particular, the five metre rule, allowing police to search and demand identification from anyone moving too close the security perimeter.  Police admit now that there never was such a rule but they enforced it anyway as the Chief of Police Bill Blair said:  “…to keep the criminals out.”  It seems the powers that be thought it was their right to enforce an illegal law.  The public wants to know why this was allowed to happen and along with international human rights groups are calling for an independent inquiry.

Enforcing illegal policies is something we see many landlords doing in Toronto – and across Ontario.  Prospective tenants applying for apartments are told things like:  “You must be working”; “You must have Canadian references and credit”; “We don’t want children”; “You must not be paying more than 30% of your income on rent”; “You’re too young”; and the list goes on.   Even though such policies are illegal under Ontario’s Human Rights Code, some landlords believe they have the right to create and enforce them – to keep certain “types” of people out.  As housing advocates, our job is to challenge these policies and constantly remind tenants and landlords that the Human Rights Code is the most important law in the province. 

We all have the right to protest at the G20 in full view of the Heads of State present for the meetings.  And we all have the right to access housing.  Illegal laws and policies that violate these rights must not be tolerated.