Pushback forces Ontario government to revise enhanced pandemic policing powers

Many police services said they would not randomly stop vehicles or persons

The provincial government has changed its new policing powers following an outcry from the public and refusal by many police services to carry out what was being asked of them.

On Friday, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said police could stop people at random and ask why they are not at home and where they live, part of stepped-up measures to combat a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Now, the police will only be allowed to stop vehicles or people if they are suspected of participating in an organized public event or social gathering.

Jones said in a statement Saturday evening that officers will no longer have the right to stop any pedestrian or vehicle to ask why they are out or request their home address.

“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,” Jones said.

“Every individual who is required to provide a police officer or other provincial offences officer with information shall promptly comply.”

Police services in Barrie, South Simcoe, the Greater Toronto Area, London, Guelph, Ottawa, Peterborough and elsewhere said they would not comply with the new powers to stop people and question why they had left their homes.

Earlier on Saturday, Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman tweeted that random police checks were a terrible idea.