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Are they afraid with the Power of the Mask? Or are they afraid with the Power of the People?
I refer to “Wearing a mask at a riot is now a crime: Maximum 10-year prison term for conviction of new offence” by Meagan Fitzpatrick, CBC News, June 19th with regard to Canada’s new law banning the wearing of masks during a riot or unlawful assembly.
Indeed, wearing a mask during those situations stated above is wrong, yet what is wrong in wearing a mask in a political rally, public assembly or people’s demonstration?
According to the reports:
“A bill that bans the wearing of masks during a riot or unlawful assembly and carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence with a conviction of the offence became law today.
“Bill C-309, a private member’s bill introduced by Conservative MP Blake Richards in 2011, passed third reading in the Senate on May 23 and was proclaimed law during a royal assent ceremony in the Senate this afternoon.
“Richards, MP for Wild Rose, Alta., said the bill is meant to give police an added tool to prevent lawful protests from becoming violent riots, and that it will help police identify people who engage in vandalism or other illegal acts. The bill is something that police, municipal authorities and businesses hit hard by riots in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and other cities in recent years, were asking for, according to Richards.”
According to the statement released by Richards:
“The provisions of my bill are effective immediately, which means police officers across Canada now have access to these tools to protect the public from masked rioters…”
I condemn to the utmost the macheavellian method used in enacting this sinister law which unmistakably will lead to the stifling of the people’s civil rights and undoubtedly shall lead to the grave violation of the citizen’s constitutional rights!
On behalf of humanity and all freedom-loving people of the world, let me issue my objections to this ‘law’.
I am opposed to this law on two grounds, namely the procedural and substantive aspect.
On the procedural aspect, let me state that I am against this law by virtue of the incontestable fact that it is a redundancy. The present Criminal Code existing has already includes a section about “wearing disguises while committing a crime.”
Given the said premise, now the pertinent question to this section is: what is the purpose that will be served by this new law which is already filled up or satisfied or covered up by the earlier law?
Hence, there is no shadow of doubt that this new law is utterly unnecessary and an extreme exercise in stupid superfluity.
I am also opposed to this law because originally the proposed penalty is only up to five years, “but the House of Commons justice committee amended it and doubled the penalty to up to 10 years in prison for committing the offence.”
Did the so-called House of Commons justice committee conducted wide consultations and extensive public hearings to notify the general population with regard to this law and the committee’s act of raising or doubling the penalty for violation thereof?
It is my vehement and firm view that the absence of an extensive public hearing to notify and educate the public will render this law a suspect in its objective and distrustful to its true aim.
There is no shadow of doubt that the process in passing this legislation is arbitrary, capricious and anti-democratic. The Legislature has committed a fatal and glaring error in public policy and that is by-passing the people in advancing this measure.
Michael Byers, a political scientist at the University of British Columbia and a board member of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said that:
“Any law that infringes upon civil liberties needs to be held to a test of absolute necessity, and I don’t think that test has been met in this instance…”
Though, Mr. Byers has testified at the Commons justice committee I have strong doubts whether the members of the committee has put into consideration Mr. Byers’ viewpoints.
I concur with the said political scientist that “freedom of expression was not properly factored into the design of the bill and that its measures could deter acts of political expression.”
On this ground alone, it is my consider view that the said law is utterly unconstitutional, null and void! Indeed, this is void ab initio!
On the substantive aspect, which in my view is the most important ground, let me state that I am against this rubbish law by virtue of the fact that its aim is not the promotion of the public good but the suppression of the people’s rights to their privacy and political expression.
There is indeed a dangerous tendency to the said law. It could be a subject of abuse by the law-enforcer.
I concur with James Stribopoulos, an associate professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall law school, who told the MPs on the House justice committee “that it could result in police preemptively arresting lawful protesters who happen to be wearing masks.”
In such a case, what would be the recourse of a legitimate protester?
Further, the new measure, undeniably “creates a new Criminal Code offence that makes it illegal to wear a mask or otherwise conceal your identity during a riot or unlawful assembly. Exceptions can be made if someone can prove they have a “lawful excuse” for covering their face such as religious or medical reasons.”
There is no iota of doubt that this stupid law, far from noble is a venomous attack to silence dissent and to discourage popular assembly.
The so-called “royal assent” will not cure the irremediable defects of the law! That law is illegal, immoral and utterly against the very interest of the public!
Hence, on this utterly important ground, I also consider the said law in contravention of the Constitution!
Further, I overwhelmingly agree with civil liberties advocates’ argument that “the measures could create a chilling effect on free speech and that peaceful protesters can unintentionally find themselves involved in an unlawful assembly.”
Lastly, how could said law and civil liberties be reconciled? Or to put it in another manner: how the said draconian law will be reconciled with the constitutional rights of the citizens?
It is a well-entrenched rule of universal constitutional law, sanctioned and recognized by international convention that if a law or a rule or a statute or a measure is in contradiction or in direct violation of the constitution, said law or rule or statute or measure shall be declared invalid and ineffective, by virtue of its being unconstitutional!
Finally, the law is also illegal for being biased and discriminatory. Why?
The stupid law is compelling demonstrators, activists, protesters, etc. not to wear any masks; then why the hell those policemen are wearing gas mask?
The rubbish law is prohibiting demonstrators, activists, protesters from concealing their identities; then how about those bastard policemen who are not wearing their respective identification cards?
I call upon the Canadian people to question before the highest court of the law the legality, propriety and constitutionality of this measure!
I also call upon them to continue to fight and exercise their right: go out and demonstrate, with or without the masks. THAT IS YOUR RIGHT!!! Defy this illegal and stupid law!
To the Canadian government
Fear not that the people are wearing masks, rather fear and be scarred at the collective power of the people, because they can overthrow you all, with or without the masks.
Do I have to remind you that, in the final analysis: it is the power of the people that will undeniably determine everything!
Hence: You have been warned! Watch out and beware!
The writer has a Master’s degree in Philosophy, a law degree and a degree in AB Political Science. He was previously teaching Philosophy, Ethics and Anthropology at an institution of higher education in the Nilai University College at Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. He is currently a lecturer at the College of Arts, Department of Philosophy at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
As of the moment, he is preparing to publish his first book entitled “Dissidente”. It is a collection of his articles, commentaries and op-ed published by various newspapers in Southeast Asia.