Vandalized businesses should be compensated: Layton

[attach]1851[/attach]The morning after the G20 Summit wrapped up in Toronto, Federal NDP leader Jack Layton called on the Harper government to compensate businesses that were vandalized by violent protesters.

Layton was speaking to reporters at an editorial board this morning at Town Crier’s offices.

Layton said the G20 meeting was not well planned in terms of the Toronto location.

“Of course when you invite the global leaders, you are also going to essentially be inviting the Black Bloc to show up. It’s too bad Mr. (Stephen) Harper didn’t listen to the mayor and the city officials who said why don’t we put the meetings in an area that’s easier to secure for example the CNE, which has lots of open space around it and no businesses around it.”

Layton, along with his wife and MP Olivia Chow asked the federal government to compensate businesses if there was property damage.

“And he (Prime Minister Harper) said no. Well now we can see unfortunately that will be necessary and I hope he changes his mind,” said Layton.

The government has stated businesses can apply for compensation, but critics have said the criteria’s too restrictive.

Layton also said police’s handling of detainees was disorganized.

There was a temporary detention centre on Eastern Avenue in his Toronto-Danforth riding to process some 900 people arrested over the G20 weekend including journalists, activists, demonstrators and people who live or work in the area where downtown protests broke out. Some complained of not having access to lawyers, food or water while held in jail cells.

“Given that they had set aside this big detention centre that they’d have had all the systems in place for the lawyers, feeding people, for making sure their rights were honoured,” Layton. “I think it will require some careful investigation through the Police Services Board.”

Layton also expressed disappointment at the content of the G20 meetings.

He said Canada and other wealthy nations have failed to live up to previous commitments on aid to Africa, coming billions below promised targets. In meetings this past weekend, climate change and human rights barely got a mention, Layton said.

The Toronto-Danforth MP also weighed in on whisperings of a possible coalition government formation between the NDP and the Liberals.

Layton said he does remain open to a coalition, which the parties tried to form in December 2008 before Prime Minister Harper prorogued parliament.

“As far as the possibility of a coalition in the future, we are always open to working with other parties,” he said. “You will have to speak to Mr. (Michael) Ignatieff as to why he chose not to participate in the coalition last time around and what he will do the next time.”

More locally, Layton said he’s endorsing candidate Mary Fragedakis, who’s running for a council seat in Toronto-Danforth’s ward 29.

There are currently six people registered to replace outgoing councillor Case Ootes.

“She’s a terrific local small businessperson who’s been very involved in the community.”

Former councillor and previous mayoral candidate Jane Pitfield is also running this time.

“Of course she will be a strong contender,” said Layton. “She was a councillor in Leaside on the other side of the Don Valley Parkway, which is a long way away from the Danforth.

“We are optimistic. It will be a contested race, no question about it.”