ocap coordinator sue collis is right-on to calmly dismiss Mayor Mel's pumped-up threats of legal action against what was largely a peaceful demonstration Tuesday, October 16. Maybe when the mayor meets with the city solicitor, our chief lawyer can slowly and clearly explain to Mel that in a civil society we tolerate, if not openly embrace, lawful dissent. And that even peaceful demonstrations can and do get messy. And that they can and do cause inconvenience for masses of people.
The right to voice dissent and, yes, even inconvenience people, is guaranteed in Canada. Like it or not, while some protests are absolutely legal -- parade permits and all -- many smaller, more impromptu ones aren't. All acts of non-violent civil disobedience break laws. That's the impact some types of activists seek. Most of the time the violations are minor and have to do with breaching the public peace, and those who transgress know the game and its price.
Police are duty bound to arrest protestors who carry Molotov cocktails or destroy private and public property. We expect that. That's what we pay taxes for.
But free people in a democratic society openly expressing dissent should surely not be forced by the state to pay for an overwhelming police presence just because the action was a burden for police chief Julian Fantino. Messy, inconvenient mass actions are the cost of democracy.
On the other hand, it's also the responsibility of protest organizers to ensure as much as they can that their actions are peaceful.
They must do everything they can to prevent the potential for violence. They owe that much to the very laws that protect their fundamental right to muck up morning traffic so they will be heard.