Will Toronto Outlaw Dissent On Public Property?

Your civil rights are in danger.

Have you ever wanted to protest anything?  The first protest I went to at Queen’s Park was to protest Ontario eliminating provincial OSAP grants for post secondary education.  Later, I was a young mom when I took my toddler to the next protest when Mike Harris was cutting social services and dismantling public education.  

People are allowed to protest in a democracy.  I know people who protested G7 and G20 and I know people who have never protested in their lives.  All sorts of people who never thought they would ever protest anything came out to protest Bill C-51.   The Harper Government (and the Justin Trudeau Government that followed) chose to ignore the protests.  They can do that.

What they can’t do is stop people from protesting.  The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right of every Canadian to dissent.  

Maybe you’ve never protested, and maybe you never will.  But today you have the right to protest.  No government approval required.  

This is especially important in our unrepresentative representative democracy because its the only way to even get winner-take-all government to pat attention.  But the City of Toronto is considering removing that right…preventing you or anyone from protesting on city or provincial property without permission.     

If the City of Toronto goes ahead with this, if they stop peaceful protests from taking place on city or provincial property, it won’t just affect Torontonians.  This could prevent Citizens from anywhere in Ontario from expressing their dissent at Queens Park without breaking the law.

This is a motion, not a law, but even so, with this in place, serious breaches of civil rights will undoubtedly follow.  [As they happened at Toronto’s infamous G20.]  

If it goes unchallenged, other municipalities will likely follow suit.  Which is why I’m sharing this call to action.


The organizers of this protest are concerned because Toronto City Council is considering a motion to shut down civil protests on Toronto or Provincial Property.

No information, no process, no visibility – just privileged access to power.

Tell Mayor Tory and all councillors this ill-conceived and ill-considered motion will not pass in our city.

URGENT – Meeting this Tuesday (Nov 28 at 9:30 am)

Toronto City Council is considering an item that came to Council on Sep-19 from Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10 – York Centre) who is seeking a motion to shut down or prohibit access to public demonstrationson city and provincial property for so-called “hate-infested” rallies and he particularly mentions “Al Quds Day” as an example.
According to Pasternak, the Al Quds Day rally is “hate-infested” and “anti-Semitic”. Moreover, Councilor Pasternak places the Al Quds Day rally in the same category as white supremacist and neo-Nazi rallies. He also writes that “for the past several years there has been an Al Quds Day rally held in Toronto outside Queen’s Park featuring speakers making anti-Semitic and anti-Christian remarks, spreading hatred, inciting violence and supporting of terrorist organizations such as Hamas. Al Quds Day was originally created to call for the destruction of the state of Israel.”  (see link below for full text.)

Not only are the claims unsubstantiated, they are untrue, misleading and grossly defamatory.  If Councilor Pasternak has a problem with Al Quds Day, he should pursue it directly and not try to implicate other groups, movements and protests in sweeping action which will harm our freedom of expression and protest.
It is obvious that the larger goal of this motion is to engulf and shutdown ALL protests or actions supporting Palestine solidarity. This is typical “thin edge of of the wedge” attack which can be eventually applied to ever-broader definitions and eventually include any protest against mainstream / corporate / institutional policies and programs. This motion is a blatant assault to responsible civil society – its role and conduct

And moreover it is being done behind the backs of citizens with no notice, no attempt to contact or inform the accused or affected groups or organizations.  Another abuse of fair process and reliance on privileged access to power

Now is the time to cut down this duplicitous and vile initiative before it goes any further in the council decision process.  The matter is being considered at Executive Committee on Tuesday Nov-28 (9:30 am) and will be brought to City Council the following Tuesday (Dec-05 at 9:30am)

We need to let the Committee and also Council that this is NOT OK and we categoricallyreject any attempt to silence the public’s natural right to protest against power, injustice and inequality

You can read the documents related to this item from the city website.  The last item is from the City Deputy Manager and the Toronto Police Service, are very encouraging to public protest.  We need to ensure that city politicians do not meddle with what is a relatively open policy.
Link to the item on Executive Committee agenda for Nov28

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2017.EX29.42

Original letter from Councillor Pasternak (Sep-19) – Hate-Sponsored Rallies such as Al Quds Day

http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2017/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-109011.pdf

Letter from Deputy City Manager (Nov2), and Letter from Toronto Police Service (Oct17)

http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2017/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-109012.pdf

This is the list of Executive Committee Members:

    • Paul Ainslie,
    • Ana Bailão,
    • Jon Burnside,
    • Gary Crawford,
    • Frank Di Giorgio,
    • Mary-Margaret McMahon,
    • Denzil Minnan-Wong
    • Cesar Palacio,
    • James Pasternak,
    • Jaye Robinson,
    • David Shiner,
    • Michael Thompson,
    • John Tory (Chair)

Attached is an excel sheet with contact emails (Executive Committee are indicated by “x” in a column). Alternate source of contact information for the Mayor and Councillors can be found at the following link.  https://web.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/9612-council_offices.pdf

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1e6fHyN2iEvwZNY8TVs2Y-lX8Cz8t1NaCVWeIZ5UAWsM/edit#gid=1324513855

This battle is only beginning and you can expect more calls to action between now and City Council Meeting on December 5th, 2017.
[*NOTE:  IF THERE IS ANY CHANCE YOU WILL WANT TO SPEAK TO COUNCIL, YOU MAY NEED TO REGISTER IN ADVANCE —LLR]

There is no online site or facebook page as yet.  We are in midst of organizing… this is only an opening action.  Please write NOW; you are welcome to some of the words or thoughts above in this email or use your own.


If the only dissent allowed is government approved protest, it won't be protest. It'll be propaganda

 

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The Third of May

Laurel holds a "Free to Blog" sign with the hashtags #WPFD and #PressFreedomUnesco‘s “World Press Freedom Day 2013” is promoting the idea that people need to be able to use social media for freedom of expression, whether it’s on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Vkontakte, Tencent, Identi.ca, or blogs.  Many people don’t know that they should be free and safe to blog, to upload pictures, to watch online video., or that the freedom to receive & impart information & ideas through any media is promised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As the western free press buckles under the control and demands of powerful special interests, the Internet has made citizen journalism possible just when we need it most. Unfortunately, sometimes people engaging in social media are targeted by repressive regimes.

In Canada, Byron Sonne’s Charter rights were violated by police, and charges were laid against him for posting photographs on Flickr and tweeting concerns about the billion dollar “security theatre” being staged in Toronto for the Toronto G20.  He was punitively denied bail for almost a year, and when finally granted bail it was under onerous conditions, so he was effectively a political prisoner for nearly two years.

In Syria, Internet activist Bassel Khartabil has been unjustly detained for over a year, without trial or any legal charges being brought against him.

Since March 15, 2012, our colleague and friend Bassel Khartabil has been in prison in Syria, held without charges and not allowed legal representation. Bassel is an open-source coder and leader of the Syrian Creative Commons program. He believes in the open Internet, and has spent the last ten years using open technologies to improve the lives of Syrians. Not only did Bassel build the CC program in his country; he worked tirelessly to build knowledge of digital literacy, educating people about online media and open-source tools.”

Catherine Casserly

Bassel needs to be #FreeToBlog again... Syrian Free Culture advocate has been held for more than a year without charges.
Syrian Free Culture advocate Bassel needs to be free to blog, not imprisoned without charges.

Around the world, we’re seeing increased restrictions on free speech as the breadth of copyright laws have been expanded to allow censorship, and we face an unending barrage of laws like SOPA and CISPA that allow government and corporate incusrions into our personal privacy, and trade agreements like ACTA and CETA.

Unesco is promoting the free exchange of ideas & knowledge that is possible with social media, and wants everyone to have a voice and be able to speak freely and in safety, no matter where they are in the world.

There is a growing awareness that ensuring freedom of expression must also necessarily extend to safety online. World Press Freedom Day 2013 focuses on the theme “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media” and puts the spotlight, in particular, on the issues of safety of journalists, combating impunity for crimes against freedom of expression, and securing a free and open Internet as the precondition for online safety.”

Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media

Which dovetails nicely with the fact today is also the International Day Against DRM.  If DRM becomes a built in part of the HTML5, any hope of a free and open Internet will be lost.

Banner that can be used on facebook

DRM restricts the public’s freedom, even beyond what overzealous copyright law requires, to the perceived benefit of this privileged, powerful few.”

Letter to the W3C

DRM is “Digital Rights Management” or “Digital Restrictions Management” ~ either way it is “Technological Protection Measures” employed in the proprietary software and hardware we purchase.  DRM controls how we can use our digital media and devices.

This year the W3C is in the process of hammering out the new standard for HTML5, the language that the Internet is written in.  Some of the biggest, most powerful Internet corporations are trying to pressure the W3C to write DRM into the specifications. Adding DRM to HTML would cause a host of problems for freedom and interoperability on the Web, and we need to build the grassroots movement against it. Nobody except these big corporations want this change to the core of the Web, but most of the Web users that it would affect don’t know about the issue yet.”

Defective By Design: We Oppose DRM

Any DVD player would be able to play any DVD in the world but for region encoding, one example of DRM.  If you move to a different region, don’t plan on bringing along your DVD collection, because it won’t play there.  DRM is often employed to “protect” digital copies that are under copyright.

Corporations like DRM because it can be used to tie us in to their proprietary products — we need to buy this type of game machine to continue to use the games we’ve already purchased — or buy ink cartridges even though the ones in the printer aren’t actually empty but because the DRM says the ink is past it’s best-before date — or purchase the same music over and over again as digital media wears out or the device is declared obsolete.

A specification designed to help companies run secret code on users’ computers to restrict what they do on the Web would severely undermine that trust. ”

Letter to the W3C

Nothing is stopping these big companies from deploying DRM on their websites now, with the exception of consumer choice.  But if DRM is written into the HTML5 Specifications, DRM will become the default, and consumers will lose the few choices we have now.  It will become harder to free our devices and ourselves from the shackles of DRM.  And I rather expect it will have the unfortunate side effect of breaking the Internet.

No DRM for the Internet

You’re welcome to use my Day Against DRM Facebook Cover, my Day Against DRM Twitter Banner or the square “Don’t DRM the Internet” avatar.


Image Credits
Bassel Khartabil by Kristina Alexanderson released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License

Map of the Internet – photo by the Opte Project released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 1.0) License

Both social media banners, Day Against DRM Facebook cover and Day Against DRM Twitter Banner incorporate the Opte Project Internet Map, tand so are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) License

Is PAYPAL a political tool ? ~ freeByron

Free Byron

The American corporation PayPal has withdrawn the “donation” button from the FreeByron wiki.

The donation button was for a Trust Account established by Byron Sonne’s parents to raise funds to help pay for their son’s legal defence.   [Feel free to tell PayPal what you think about that].

graphic PayPal logo

Byron Sonne says PayPal “felt that it was just too much risk for them.”

Canadian citizens are supposed to have the right to defend themselves when legal charges are brought against us.   That’s a pretty standard democratic civil right.

Why would PayPal turn away business like this? After all, it doesn’t do this for free, this is how PayPal makes it’s money. The only thing that makes any sense would be that the American Company has felt Canadian Government pressure.

If that is what happened, it implies government awareness that the case against Byron Sonne has little or no merit. I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me if the government had a good case it wouldn’t stoop so low.

I fear Byron’s case isn’t about what he’s accused of doing so much as it is about the fundamental Canadian freedoms that are supposed to be guaranteed us under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

PayPal Alternatives

You can mail donations in the form of cheques, money orders, wire transfers etc. to:

Byron Sonne
37 Mara Crescent
Brampton, Ontario
L6V 4C2

Donations should be made payable to:

Valerie Sonne, In Trust

You can also wire funds directly to:

Valerie Sonne, In Trust
TD-Canada Trust, 1 Queen St.E & Main St., Brampton, Ontario, Canada L6W 2A7
Branch Transit: 21202
Financial Institution: 004
Account: 03116395523

Just as Important

We need the world to be watching this one. Byron says it best:

I could really use your help in keeping a spotlight on this case. Talk about it. Blog about it. Write letters to papers and magazines about it….

This isn’t just about me, not by a long shot. This is about freedom, this is about justice…. in other words, this is all about you. What happens in that courtroom starting next week will affect you, your children, and your children’s children. Don’t just sit back and let it happen. Get involved and make a real difference. We can do it.”

— Byron Sonne, letter dated 31 October, 2011

The Future of Freedom

The mechanics of our fundamental freedoms will be interpreted and applied in the course of Byron Sonne’s case.

This won’t just affect lawyers and Constitutional scholars. Both the process and the outcome will impact on all Canadians, because the future of our freedom will be forged in that courtroom next week.

Good luck, Byron.

Canadian Flag, Old City Hall, Toronto


Images:
“Free Byron” banner courtesy of Friends of freebyron.org
PayPal logo (used under the “Fair Dealing” Copyright exemption)
Old City Hall (cc by laurelrusswurm)