On Thursday Evening, Vancouver City Council had a meeting about a bylaw that would require structures such as tables to have to have a permit to be purchased, and a bylaw that would not allow any sort of structure in a residential area. There are many people who are opposed to this bylaw, namely PIVOT Legal Society, the BCCLA, and of course, the Falun Gong, who have had their ugly structure outside the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver for nearly a decade before Sam Sullivan and the NPA passed a bylaw to remove it.
While I am not a big fan of the Falun Gong, I’m definitely not a fan of the Chinese Government either, and I don’t like the revelation of the City Engineer Peter Judd that the City of Vancouver consulted with the Chinese Government about a law that restricts the Freedom of Expression of Canadians. This seems completely fucked up, and the fact that numerous members of Vision Vancouver were bending over backwards trying to figure out how they could accommodate the Chinese Consulate was completely fucking strange.
Vision then has the nerve to post a statement about Free Speech on their website saying that they support free speech, while at the same time, it was the Vision Vancouver council who proposed the ludicrous “Illegal Signage” bylaw and asked the Province to amend the Vancouver Charter so that they could fine people and businesses $10000 or lock people up for doing so much as putting a sign that said “Drink Pepsi” in the view of an Olympic
Venue or “Live Site”. The concept of this city council believing in Free Speech at all is laughable.
It seems absolutely bizzare that in 2011, over a year after the Olympics, buying an “I AM A FREE SPEECH ZONE” from COPE Vancouver is suddenly relevant again due to the myopic vision of the City Staff. It’s frustrating to see that Dick Fadden of CSIS was right about the City of Vancouver being under the influence of foreign countries. The IOC was a foreign entity, and it turned this fucking city upside down for a giant party, and now the People’s Republic of China think it’s good to advise on City of Vancouver bylaws because they own an estate in one of the wealthiest parts of town?
Even if this bylaw wasn’t about China, I’d be still pissed off due to the fact that it means that you can’t protest at people’s homes. The tactic of going to Gordon Campbell’s house and protesting was a controversial one, and environmental and animal rights groups have also used this tactic in the UK and other countries and have found it effective to a certain degree. For example, in the Corporation, they end up having Tea with an executive because he’s too tired to be a robot and has to be human, and in a crazy Animal Rights video that SHAC put on, they had a group of people outside of an executive’s home yelling “YOUR DADDY IS A PUPPY KILLER”, which I’m sure will stay with his children the rest of his life. (Go to 3:20 of the video below to see Earth First! confront a board member)
Anyway, the fact is that when you start saying that certain types of “Expression” are permitted in one area and not another, what you’re saying is that speech isn’t really free. While I would NEVER get a permit for anything I would organize, structure or no structure, I do think that it’s important to tell off bullshit politicians every chance one gets when the City of Vancouver staff come up with anything. I think I’ll leave this post with a quote from Councillor David Cadman which pretty much sums up a lot of what the average Vancouverite, regardless of where they’re from, feels about this bylaw:
“Is there any other bylaw that you can think of that we brought in that we would have consulted with a foreign government, a government that imprisons a Nobel laureate, that imprisons an artist that exhibits at the Tate? Why would we consult with them about our bylaw?”