The other day, a friend described Canada as a place where:
- abortion is paid for with taxes
- gay marriage is legal
- health care is free 4 those who need it
- gun laws are strong and enforced
To her (and me) those are mostly good things.
But in the past year I’ve come to question Canada’s gun laws, because they carry a suspension of civil rights, which is highly disturbing. If owning a registered gun opens a citizen up to unreasonable search and seizure, that is in direct contravention of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The *point* of the Charter, is that *all* citizens are supposed to be entitled to its protection. Being a law abiding gun owner who has obtained the appropriate licenses should not put you in civil rights limbo.
But that is just one thing.
Canada *also* has an antiquated badly broken “democratic” system. It hasn’t been “modernised” since 1867. Which is not to say that it is unchanged… rather, it has been further imbalanced, and manipulated by succeeding political parties, not in any attempt to make it more fair or representative, but to deliberately make it unfair, in order to confer an unfair advantage on the ruling political party that has the power to make these changes.
This political system we have is so frustratingly unfair that nearly half of our eligible voters don’t bother to vote anymore, since all votes are not equal, and most votes don’t count. Instead of working to modernise this patently unfair system (which awards a majority government with an absolute dictatorship), the Canadian government preferred to “modernise” Canadian copyright law as dictated by USA’s USTR, in spite of near universal opposition from Canadians.
Even more disturbing to me is the ongoing erosion of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Toronto G20 began the illumination of much that is wrong in Canada. The treatment of citizens by police is what most Canadians would expect from a police state, not Canada.
Byron Sonne’s loss of liberty for nearly two years was a clear example of state abuse of power. His original arrest came as a direct result of a police Charter violation; then he was repeatedly denied bail and incarcerated punitively. Although ultimately vindicated in court, when all charges were dropped, Byron paid a heavy price for political protest. Not what we expect of Canadian justice.
And that is just one case. The G20 resulted in mass arrests, yet almost all of the charges laid were dropped. Most people lack the resources to take on the power of the state, and going to court is always a gamble, but more so for those on trial for challenging the status quo ~ and the justice system is an embodiment of status quo.
Lat week, on the second anniversary of the G20, Kitchener Activist Alex Hundert’s guilty plea resulted in a 13.5 month sentence. Hundert’s ordeal has been characterized bail conditions that got him rearrested for speaking about his own case in a University panel discussion. Hundert and the other activists pled guilty as part of a plea arrangement to protect other members of their group. As near as I can tell, Hundert’s only crime is political activism.
This is why the civil liberties embodied in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms are so important: they are supposed to protect citizens from abuse of state power. People should not be roughed up, pepper sprayed, strip searched and locked up merely for engaging in peaceful protest. Again, not what we expect of Canada.
We’ve seen the rise of the “Occupy” movement with peaceful protesters standing up for social justice get knocked down by police. Not what we expect of Canada.
We see the Quebec students strike in defence of their own education. The Quebec government responds with Bill 78, a direct contravention of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which had the unintended consequence of fuelling “Casseroles” protests, not just throughout Canada, but around the world.
We see the Robocall scandal calls the legitimacy of the current Conservative Majority Government into question. Not what we expect of Canada.
We see the Government snipping away at the legislative process, packaging quantities of disparate legislation into indigestible Omnibus Bills and then stripping away scrutiny and truncating debate. Not what we expect of Canada.
We see our already insufficient environmental protections cast aside when The Environment Act was written out of existence as just one small portion of the Omnibudget. Not what we expect of Canada.
where do we go from here?
Canadians in Winnipeg today have scheduled an event called National Stop Harper Day – Funeral of Canada
Looking more closely, this even is not confined to Winnipeg:
We Move To Canada: july 1 2012: national stop harper day helps explain citizen anger and frustration fuelling such protests.
My ancestors came to Canada here to escape repression in Europe and Russia. They came here for a better life for their children. I am writing this today with heavy heart, because I love my country. What is happening is not good for us, or our children.
We need to do better. We need to stand up for civil rights now, or there won’t be any left for our children.
Today, right now, on Canada Day, #denounceharper is trending on Twitter. This tweet sums it up:
Canadians need to stop claiming Canada is the greatest country in the world, and start taking steps to ensure it is so. #denounceharper
On Canadian Copyright: Before Canadian Copyright there was already Canadian Copyright
On Canadian Fair Play: Larry Russwurm: Ben Johnson for the Order of Canada
On Canadian Democracy:Missing Canada.