For those who don’t remember, the BCCLA denounced the entire Olympic Resistance Network after Heart Attack during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The reason they denounced the group was because they didn’t want to be linked to the group since they were endorsing an event where people were engaged in property destruction. This makes sense for a group that works with the rule of law and the charter. However, it seems the real reason now was public relations.
In the Province, the President of the BCCLA, Rob Holmes, seems to agree with the right-wing sentiment that the OccupyVancouver camp needs to go down</a>. He seems to think that the OccupyVancouver people have made their statement and that they should allow others to use the Art Gallery grounds. Based on this article, it seems that the BCCLA is for people doing ineffective, single-day protests and protests against other countries such as China, but when it comes to actually challenging the state, even when it’s non-violent, the BCCLA would rather that you don’t go too far and actually get people talking about real issues.
They may pay lip service with this press release</a> where they say that they support the freedom of speech and expression, however you can’t issue a press release and then say “please move because your being a pest”. The Freedom of Expression is the Freedom to Express things that people don’t want to hear, and so far Occupy Vancouver has been peaceful.
The fact is that OccupyVancouver appears to be gearing up for a confrontation with the police by using Non-Violent Civil Disobedience. The thing with Civil Disobedience is that this isn’t covered as protected expression in the Charter. If the City of Vancouver sweeps in and starts an eviction, it’ll have to pull who chooses to stay in the tents out by force. The courts may say that it’s a justified use of force, but it’ll clearly be violating a law, and it’ll be justified by using the part of the charter that I totally despise, which I will be quoting below:
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified</strong> in a free and democratic society. </em>
This means that Canadians don’t have the right to Freedom of Expression, only what’s considered reasonable expression as prescribed by law. Also, if the society ceases to be free and democratic, like with the G20 in Toronto, what does it mean about the rights in such society? Basically, the charter in reality isn’t really worth the paper its written on as far as Freedom of Expression is concerned, because it means that speech and expression can be deemed unreasonable and as such is not subject to the protections of the charter.
In short, defence of freedom shouldn’t end when public opinion turns against a group, otherwise the BCCLA should stop defending polygamists, anti-abortion nutjobs and anyone else on the right who has an unpopular opinion. You either support what #OccupyVancouver is doing, or you don’t.
Update</strong>: This was before the BCCLA admitted to being mis-interpreted</a>. I think it says something about the BCCLA’s reputation when we saw people immediately write them off, myself included. I will still work with them on some projects, such as the ATIP work that I’m doing, but I won’t be renewing that membership that I let lapse a year ago. It’s a pity that the BCCLA seems to be easily misinterpreted and swayed by public opinion. It’s also weird that this publication didn’t even have David Eby in it, which is rather odd.