Doesn’t the Canadian Charter of Rights have certain guarantees? Guarantees protected by law.

As a Canadian and a proud Alberta Resident, I am ever so grateful that my rights and those of every Canadian are spelled out and protected. And even better, these so-called rights are written in plain English without ambiguity.

But today in Edmonton those rights are being threatened. And what is interesting to note, is as the City Administration and Mayor Sohi’s Council move forward, that this type of thing is going on all over the province. Municipalities trying different angles of pushing a bylaw and seeing how they can “get away with it” just to be copied by a different Municipality because it is working elsewhere. Staging one bylaw and then building upon it with another.

And of course, the Provincial Government and the Federal Government are silent, because it benefits them too. And that my friends is bothersome and should maybe concern you too.

First let me share the Charter of Rights parts that I feel are being challenged today.

Section 2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association.

Section 4 – . 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. 8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. 9. Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

Section 24 part (2) Where, in proceedings under subsection (1),a court concludes that evidence was obtained in a manner that infringed or denied any rights or freedoms guaranteed by this Charter, the evidence shall be excluded if it is established that, having regard to all the circumstances, the admission of it in the proceedings would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

With the specific citation – “We must now establish the basic principles, the basic values and beliefs which hold us together as Canadians so that beyond our regional loyalties there is a way of life and a system of values which make us proud of the country that has given us such freedom and such immeasurable joy.”

Now, to me these are not just words. I believe the Charter of Rights is part of the reason why there is a reason to be a proud Canadian. I believe these and the whole concept of the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms are what our soldiers and founding fathers fought & died for. The basics of Democracy and Freedom.

Now let’s get to the City of Edmonton and Mayor Sohi and his minions on Council and the Administration.

Today they bring forward a bylaw 20700. The proposed bylaw would expand the requirement to all public spaces, with permission being mandated for each event to ensure what the city called “appropriate services” be provided based on the specific needs of each event.

According to the City – It intends to create a consistent set of expectations for behaviours in public spaces, the City said, with the policy changes being “informed by a jurisdictional scan, public engagement, and the project objectives of promoting safety, reducing red tape, and balancing competing interests in a fair and equitable manner.”

Sound nonthreatening enough. The concept of appropriate services, that wording seems good. But here’s the issue.

Any gathering of 50 or more people will need a permit. Now this implies the option for the City Administration to deny said permit or to set up “conditions” that each gathering must provide or adhere to in order to gather. It also would suggest that one or a number of individuals take responsibility for the entire gathering as the organizers of said event. As if the organizers would need to vette each and every attendee. And the new bylaw would also prohibit the use of PA systems unless you had a permit. I don’t know if you’ve tried talking outside to a large group of people but it is almost impossible without a PA. You just can’t push your voice unless you are screaming and that still only covers a small area. Without the PA you are effectively silenced.

And in publicly owned areas controlling or forcing restrictions, that is bad enough, but this also includes any place that has public access – even private property.

This bylaw 20700 by presentation seems passive enough. But in reality, I do believe that this part contravenes at least some of Section 2, 4 and 24 of the Charter of Rights maybe not the specific but the intended meaning. And as soon as that happens, now you Mayor Sohi, Council, and especially Administration should be ashamed of yourself.

Visible aggressive panhandling and drug use, we get it. State the obvious. Illegal and against logical community standards. But pushing this permitting for groups of 50 or more – sneaky sneaky sneaky. All this does is allow you to decide what and how people gather, and it forces the gathering to be under your thumb.

If this isn’t clear enough, let me be perfectly blunt. If a group of 50 or more, or 50,000 people are mad or passionate enough about something to gather and protest, you have bigger issues that maybe you should be paying attention to.

Calls to City Council – don’t make change.

Petitions – don’t seem to make a difference.

Appearances and presentations to Council – aren’t getting you to change administrative direction.

Town Halls – aren’t getting your attention.

So when Mayor Sohi, City Council, and City Administration make decisions that are unpopular, illogical, immoral, or even illegal, you want the public to accept these restrictions on how to voice their displeasure…?

Good thing we can make changes at the end of your term.