G20 gag order on unjust, a crime in and of itself

The alleged ringleader behind the G20 acts of violence, Alex Hundert, recently received an unprecedented set of bail conditions. The conditions include an incredibly severe gag order: Hundert is not allowed to voice a political opinion of any kind in a public area, which includes the media.

Keeping in mind that these conditions are being set before Hundert has actually been found guilty of anything, it seems that the court is terrified at the possibility of Hundert voicing his political opinion, something that we students take for granted. On Sept. 17, Hundert was re-arrested for attending a panel discussion at Ryerson University because according to the court it qualifies as a political demonstration and his presence thus violated the conditions of his bail.

The fact stands that Hundert has not been found guilty of any crime. This is an extreme infringement of his right of freedom of expression under Sec. 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Additionally, Art. 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, declares that, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Somehow that rulebook has been thrown out the window. Regardless of your political orientation, you have to be concerned about what has been happening. Hundert has had his voice muzzled for no logical or publicly stated reasons. He has not been convicted of any crime and yet still suffers the impudence of these conditions. It seems that one of the fundamental axioms of our justice system, “innocent until proven guilty,” doesn’t apply to Hundert’s case. This trial has accomplished nothing but framing activists in a violent and irrational light, while spending large amounts of taxpayer money.

Past court decisions have overturned unjust violations in freedom of expression in Canada, such as experienced by Hundert. In the case Committee for the Commonwealth of Canada vs. Canada, the rights of Canadians were infringed upon when a group was prohibited from distributing political material in an airport. Since airports are public government-owned places, there the group must be allowed to express political opinion. Their charter rights were unduly restrained, and the prohibition has been since withdrawn. So we now see Hundert facing undue restraint on his charter rights. It would be interesting to see the Supreme Court rule on the issue given past precedent.

I used to believe that there was justice in the court system. However, when they can take action against someone not for any illegal actions, but for their beliefs, that is alarming. This trial shows how the police and court system can pull the rights out from under our feet just to show that they are the ones in power. Muzzling Hundert with these conditions is just wrong – it shows the kind of totalitarian police state that we are letting Canada slip into.

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