It's becoming more and more difficult to remain outside, or anonymous within, the issue of civil liberties and the Olympics. Sara Jennings and G.D. Maxwell have taken public stands on deeply held personal beliefs and convictions and have done so in the face of overwhelming force and pressure to keep quiet. Stepping out like that requires tremendous courage and I imagine they might be feeling a bit lonely right now.
I also imagine that the mayors of Vancouver and Whistler are feeling some heat too. I know and respect both men as progressive leaders seeking to facilitate positive change. I suspect tremendous pressure has come to bear for them to advocate bylaws that restrict civil liberties. Such bylaws would not likely survive a Supreme Court challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that under most any other circumstance these mayors would likely oppose such measures.
Back in the 1930s and '40s, individuals, communities and entire nations took a stand against fascism - sacrificing dearly to settle the issue. Today, in the host cities of the 2010 Winter Olympics the lines may appear blurred and less well defined and yet the issue of civil liberties is just as important as ever.
Where do I stand? Where do you stand?
We should all be outraged
Re Our individual rights trumped by Olympics (Maxed Out, Oct. 22)
The rights and freedoms to which G.D. refers are contained in section 2 of the Charter. Unfortunately for us all, these rights and freedoms are not inalienable. Section 33(1) takes care of that - the so called "notwithstanding" clause - "Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of this Charter."
In other words, the rights and freedoms declared in section 2 exist only if the federal or provincial government say they do.
While the notwithstanding clause has not been officially invoked in this case, the cavalier disregard for the fundamental importance of such rights and freedoms suggests that its very existence has emboldened our elected representatives to assume that such rights are granted at their pleasure. We should all be outraged.
Wake up people! This new bylaw gives the powers that be the right to enter your house if you had a protest sign in the your window that said "I love the idealism of the Olympics, but I hate the business of the Olympics" and remove it. Where are we... China?