Protesting banned at 2010 Olympics

In preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the city of Vancouver is creating by-laws to prevent dialogue on the negative externalities of the games.

First, the right to protest during the Olympics will be illegal, punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and possible jail time.

Second, anti-Olympic signage will also be illegal and punishable with a fine of up to $10,000.

This system of repression in Vancouver is without Canadian precedent; after investigation, I discovered neither Calgary nor Montreal took such action when hosting the Olympics.  

What makes Vancouver different is that there have been a significant outcry against what the Olympics has come to represent.

The upcoming games’ treatment of the environment, the Indigenous peoples and the socially vulnerable of Vancouver has been horrendous.

 A boycott of the Olympics has been declared by various interest groups in Canada under the united banner No2010 to bring attention to these abuses.

The interests groups cover a wide variety of issues from environmental advocacy to Aboriginal rights to women’s rights.

 The government, instead of addressing these issues, has decided to silence any opposition.

This forced silence is a means of promoting the government’s idealized image of what it considers the Vancouver Olympics to represent. 

It is quite ironic, because the government is trying to boycott the boycott.

The key difference between the government’s boycott and the activists’ boycott is that activists declared theirs to start a conversation in the interest of human rights and the environment.

The government is hoping to end that very same conversation.

Since these by-laws were created to suppress the rights of people in the interest of government, the question then arises as to whether these laws are representative of what could be called a police state.

 Before you decry the comparison of Canada to Nazi Germany, ignore your inherent bias that you believe Canada to be a vibrant democracy and analyse what these laws represent.

 These laws are trying to roll back our rights without just cause. In a democracy, it is the responsibility of our government to protect our rights.

This suppression of free speech in the interests of government authority is not representative of a democracy.

In order to understand Canada under the framework of a police state, maybe what we need to do is re-examine what we perceive a police state to mean.

If we solely consider a police state to be a totalitarian dictatorship, then this of course does not describe Canada.

 But, if a police state is defined as a state that uses its authority – law enforcement and legislation in this case – to impose restrictions on people’s fundamental freedoms, without just cause, then the state no longer qualifies as a democracy.

Under this definition, these laws are representative of a Canadian police state. 
What is important is to understand is that the precedents are being set in Vancouver, in relation to how the Canadian government treats its citizens.

In all absolutist states it is the rights of the politically undesirables, the marginalized individuals, that are taken first, as a precedent for the rest of the population.

Vancouver’s new laws that will restrict the right to protest and the right to display an anti-Olympic sign are a microcosm of a bigger issue.

The government is trying to legitimize the use of its authority to prohibit the dispersal of information that questions the government’s decisions.

These laws represent the beginning of a process that closes from the public our democratically guaranteed forum of debate.

If the apparatus of government continues upon such a path, what foundational values of democracy are we left with?

 To most there will be no outrage or call to action, since there is an assumption that these activists are social deviants and are “getting what they deserve.”

This ignorance is detrimental and justifies the government’s authority to ignore any of your rights that it deems to be expendable.  

If you value your rights, even if you are a supporter of the Olympics, it is important to take a stand on this issue, demanding that these laws be repelled.

To do nothing gives the government legitimacy to continue on this course.

Remaining silent is proof for the government that you have given your consent.