Taking a Stand – Part 1

Calgary Protest

I have been staying quiet recently and there has been a reason for that. We are already inundated with negative news and every time I sat down to write nothing but bitterness was showing up on my screen. People didn’t need more of that so I just kept my writings to myself. One still has to get that negativity out of your system but it is not always necessary to dump it on others. For that reason I wasn’t publishing anything, I was just cleansing. However with Kenney expediting his attack on our freedoms purely for the purpose of a twisted and bitter ego I can no longer be quiet. The UCP have provided an army of misinformation soldiers. I can’t sit back watching as fifty years of civil rights advancements be undone for no other reason than the ideology of a handful. I can no longer just sit back and, for those I haven’t yet managed to alienate, well sorry but here goes.

Today is June 11, 2020 and the day of one, of which I believe will be many, Alberta wide protest taking a stand against what has become the most authoritarian Canadian government I have ever experienced in my 45+ years of voting. Today will be a day of protest province wide that will not only challenge the Constitutionality of a piece of legislation but also expose every protestor involved to the threat held in that Bill, the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, better known as Bill 1.

Still protesting after all of these years

It seems my life has been one protest after another often protest to protect what we thought had been won in past protest. This government, which has been abusing every citizen of Alberta while hiding behind the COVID19 pandemic crisis, is stripping away every right protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bill 1 is designed to keep those who oppose this government from congregating or speaking out. It’s “marketed” as a “safety precaution” against those who would stand in the way of the oil and gas industry but is deliberately devoid of specifics.

What constitutes a “Critical Infrastructure”? The way this Act is worded leaves that totally up to the politician dealing with any given issue. In my days as a government policy analyst we were reminded regularly to use “descriptive adjectives” rather than “directive verbs”. Words matter and when it comes to legislation the more ambiguous the wording the greater the latitude of application. Bill 1 not only accomplishes that but also denies many of the rights and freedoms contained in the Constitution. I have fought for, marched in protest for and completed court cases for for over FORTY years and here we are again. This isn’t advancing democracy, this is stripping freedoms.

These rights include “Fundamental Freedoms” (as per the Constitution Act 1982) Part 1, Section 2, Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Freedom of Association. “Legal Rights”, Part 1, Section 7, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” “Equality Rights”, Part 1, Section 15, “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.”. And this is just a sampling.

Polio victims in protest at Downing Street, London, 24 December 1969.

I have been marching in protests since I was a teenager and it tears me apart not to be able to join in on todays march. However time does ravage the body and in todays world of social media you don’t necessarily need to be there “physically” to have your voice heard. I will do whatever and however I can when it comes to protecting the rights and freedoms I have dedicated my life to promoting gains, defining rights and continually pushing forward. I will not sit back while a “new” type of authoritarian government begins to erode those advances made in the past by moving us backwards like moving our child labour protections back to the days of 1920 rather than 2020. Bill 1 is a huge step in the erosion of rights and protests need to happen. That’s a problem itself, this is only “one step”.

Kenney has not hidden the fact that he is about building a “new” Alberta and if that means tearing down the protections we currently have he is prepared to do that. At a luncheon presentation to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce in 2018 he stated, and I quote, “You move quickly. You move with speed because speed creates its own momentum. It also makes it harder for the opponents of reform to obstruct it.” And that is exactly what he is doing in the mists of a health pandemic. This is Bill 1 and I will be tackling the Charter affects of his other corrosive legislation from healthcare to education.

Kenney and the UCP are a bigger threat to Alberta than COVID19 but so many people don’t want to leave their comfort bubble. They don’t seem to realize that there is a cost to a “free society” and that it doesn’t happen without “involvement” from the people. Speak up people, out forefathers (and for some that means our parents) gave their lives so we could have the freedoms we enjoy today. It is easier to lose them than gain them.

I may not be at the Calgary protest physically today but my thoughts and heart will be there pulsating with the energy of the newest generation of activists. I am there for them and I am there to hopefully avoid reinventing the wheel. One thing social media has shown me is how little many of todays activists know about our history.

In closing, as a polio survivor, I implore everybody to, at a minimum, wear a mask. Social distancing is impossible during a protest, the least you can do is wear a mask for health reasons in this renewed fight for rights. On the irony side of things, it was fifty years ago that the Simon and Garfunkel song “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” held the number one song position for six weeks. It’s as appropriate today as it was in 1970. Stay strong at the march…  

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