Fri 9 Oct, 2009 06:29 pm
No doubt many of you are aware that the 2010 Winter Olympics are taking place in the Vancouver, British Columbia area, which is where I live.
Well, there has been a lot of controversy about free speech to do with these games. The below story is yet one more thing that is trying to be done. I find it incredible that it could happen in Canada.
Should folks not have the right to speak out against the games if you're not in favour of them? I'm outraged!!
Controversial Olympic bylaws
How would you like to be fined up to ten thousand dollars a day ...or spend six months in jail...For posting something in your window considered offensive to the 2010 Olympics?
Municipal workers in Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler may soon have the power to enter private property and remove signs...something BC Civil Liberties Association President Robert Holmes considers a violation of free speech.
Holmes says, "Because if you think through what people get thrown in jail for in this country, six months in jail is usually reserved for criminals who have a record of several convictions of breaking and entering, but now it’s the government that wants to break in and take down signs that should be part of people's freedom of expression."
Holmes says --if approved-- he doubts this legislation can be effectively challenged in court before the games wrap up.
link to story
Just some titalling headlines and generalizations.
When you get all the details, post again.
Anti-Olympic signs could mean jail: rights group
Last Updated: Friday, October 9, 2009 | 2:56 PM PT
Vancouver residents could face large fines or jail for posting anti-Olympic signs during the Games in February if a new provincial law is passed, according to a civil liberties group.Vancouver residents could face large fines or jail for posting anti-Olympic signs during the Games in February if a new provincial law is passed, according to a civil liberties group.
A proposed B.C. law would allow municipal officials to enter homes to seize unauthorized and possibly anti-Olympic signs on short notice, civil libertarians say.
Violators could be fined up to $10,000 a day and jailed up to six months, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association said Friday.
The proposed law was introduced Thursday as a bill to amend the Municipalities Enabling and Validating Act.
The government said in a statement that the changes will "provide the municipalities of Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler with temporary enforcement powers to enable them to swiftly remove illegal signs and graffiti during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games."
"The legislation does not change the existing scope of authority to regulate signs and graffiti. Rather, it provides, on a temporary basis, a faster way of removing signs and graffiti that violate municipal bylaws during the short period the Games are underway."
Bill Bennett, the minister of community and rural development, said that given the short duration of the Olympics, the cities of Richmond, Whistler, and Vancouver must be able to enforce their own bylaws quickly.
"That to me seems like a reasonable thing to do when you've got the Olympic games lasting 20-odd days," Bennett said.
"You've got the potential for some businesses to try and exploit the games logo without having paid for the rights to do that. I think its a reasonable thing for communities to want to remove those kinds of signs, and to remove them before then end of the Olympic Games."
Civil rights group concerned
But that explanation didn't sit well with civil liberties advocates, who said that if the law passes, municipalities would need to enact their own bylaws to take advantage of their new powers, and that the new powers go further than the government suggests, particularly in Vancouver.
The city passed the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bylaw in June to restrict the distribution and exhibition of unapproved advertising material and signs in any Olympic area during the Games.
City officials have said the law is intended to clamp down on so-called ambush marketing, and it includes an exception for celebratory signs, which are defined as those that celebrate the 2010 Winter Games and create or add to the festive atmosphere.
But legal experts say the definition of an unapproved sign is open to interpretation.
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association has been warning for several months that the vague wording might be used against anti-Olympic signs or promotions for anti-Olympic events or material.
And under the bill introduced Thursday, the maximum fine for violations would rise to $10,000 a day from $50, and a jail term of six months, the association said. As well, city officials would only have to give notice of 24 hours, rather than two weeks, before entering a property to remove a sign.
"If Vancouver acts on this provision, people will be risking $10,000-a-day fines and six months in jail just to criticize the Olympics," Robert Holmes, the president of the civil liberties group, said in statement.
"Six months in jail is usually reserved for criminals who have a record of several convictions for breaking and entering," Holmes said.
"Telling people who exercise free speech that local authorities may barge in, rip down signs inside your property, fine you or throw you in jail will underscore the growing impression that our governments care more about their own camera appearances at Olympic events than about people's rights," Holmes said.
Court challenge launched
Earlier this week, the association helped two anti-Olympics activists launch a legal challenge of Vancouver's 2010 Olympics bylaw in B.C. Supreme Court, claiming it was an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says he's still studying the issue.
"Certainly, groups such as civil liberties have the right to challenge the laws, the bylaws that are made, so we'll respect that process and hopefully it makes those laws stronger and more reasonable," Robertson said.
The association is suspicious of the timing of the provincial bill's introduction so close to the Olympic games, which have been planned for years.
"We've seen them timing things so that they don't put in place laws that are special to the Olympics until the last minute," Holmes said. "And part of that leads to the suspicion that they've done it in a calculated and deliberate way, to remove the ability of the courts, and people who might want to take it to court, to have their rights protected."
Anti-Olympic activists involved in the legal challenge have also said they and their family and friends are being subject to unreasonable harassment and surveillance by the Olympic security unit.
i wish i lived in vancouver, i'd stick a sign in my window that said "**** all you winter athletes, and the bobsled you rode in on"
The CBC had quite a bit about this tonight on the radio. It really is outrageous. That they could go onto someone's private property - for any reason related to the Olympics - is really offensive. I hope there are a lot of local protests.
Thank you dj for posting the CBC story. Hopefully, that will satisfy a previous poster who seems to have had their cornflakes peed into.
And, dj, Roger, and Beth, I agreed that this is indeed outrageous! I couldn't believe it when I read the story!
It's one thing to protest within an Olympic venue, or even within a "bubble zone" close to one, but, for heaven's sake - on your own property?!!!! This is way over the top!
You'd think the 2010 Olympics were being held in China!
You say, Reyn, I couldn't believe it when I read the story!
I still can't believe it. This is happening in Canada
??? We're not talking about Cuba or China or North Korea? Incredible.
I wonder if it could happen in the U.S., since Canada usually prides itself in being more liberal than its southern neighbor. I tend to think not, since freedom of speech is well ingrained into the U.S. psyche, while I believe Canada just has an amorphous identity of being liberal. Just an opinion.
Support for free speech is in rapid retreat, no where worse than in Europe. Canadians fashion themselves to be more like Europeans than Americans, who generally have a greater level of support for free speech. It is in dangerous decline in America as well, but at least in America there is resistance to this folly.
Interesting view, Foofie.
I'd actually thought it was an example of Canadian politicians thinking they could follow an American approach to "political bubbles". It's not too different from New York City's approach to critical mass rallies.
The Olympics are screwing with a lot more than just free speech. During the Olympics, most people will not be able to drive or park anywhere near downtown. Two nights ago on the local news interviewed a student who was detained and questioned by the police because she knows a prominent member of the anti-olympic crowd. He's her prof at the University. Reminds me of Hoover/Mcartharism...
Then last night, a heli-skiing company has had to go out of business, because they've pretty much made the Vancouver/whistler area a no-fly zone. Unless this business could provide a security report on every single customer and employee, this whole winter is a wash.
Airports in central BC may have to close for the entire Olympics, because they cannot enforce the strict security measures, affecting many more businesses. This is beginning to feel a bit more than just scary.
the inconvenience of the citizens of one city is not even close to the importance of the Canadian Government sanctioning unreasonable limits on free speech. The limits apply to everyone and always, not one city for two weeks. One endangers democracy and one does not.
I wasn't arguing. I was merely pointing out that liberties are being taken in several areas. Many of these restrictions I speak of are happening now.
And given that the promised economic benefits never materialize as sold, and that the public cost is always higher than promised, at some point support for the Olympics will vanish. They will either need to build a permanent site or else let the games end.
At the end of the day the Olympics no longer support the values that we hold out as ideals, they are no longer worthy of our support. That is the bigger problem.
[...] Then last night, a heli-skiing company has had to go out of business, because they've pretty much made the Vancouver/whistler area a no-fly zone. Unless this business could provide a security report on every single customer and employee, this whole winter is a wash.
Airports in central BC may have to close for the entire Olympics, because they cannot enforce the strict security measures, affecting many more businesses.
Ceili, thanks for posting that info. I wasn't aware of it. Just incredible, eh?
In the meantime, here's another update from Whistler's mayor. I don't believe for a moment his explanation that all this is just to curtail ambush marketing. Who would put up a sign in a window of their house or yard to do this "ambush marketing" stuff?
Whistler's Mayor weighs-in on Olympic bylaws
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association calls it unlucky bill 13.
It's a piece of legislation the province is considering that could allow city staff in Whistler, Vancouver and Richmond to enter homes and remove anti-Olympic signage.
Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed claims the bill isn't intended to quash free speech -- but is meant to keep so-called ambush marketers from piggy-backing on media coverage, "Understandably people are concerned it might represent a grey area, but our intention and our bylaw staff will be respecting that right to free speech and using this legislation where it's intended to curtail ambush marketing."
Melamed says it's unfair for special interest groups to try and seize media attention when sponsors have paid big bucks to attach their names to the games.
Civil liberties watchdogs insist the laws will limit free speech and have denounced the six month jail sentences or $10,000 fines that could be leveled against lawbreakers.
The signage ban would only be in effect during the Olympics.
link to story