Canada has passed Bill C-309, an arcane law, redundant on the surface, but paving the way for massive abuse and crack-downs on protestors and demonstrators across the country. With the success of student protestors who recently won and beat back a tuition increase, some say the establishment in Canada is fighting back. “Masks off!”, as now you face up to 10 years in prison in Canada for wearing a mask.
In a move that many are saying now has Canada following the US in stripping away the rights of the people and sees it obediently goose-stepping down the road to fascism after its southern neighbor, a new law was passed in the land of the moose and the maple leaf, that has many advocates of civic freedom up in arms.
The law in question, Private Member’s Bill C-309, put forth by Conservative Canadian MP Blake Richards, places a ban on wearing masks at “unlawful protests and tumultuous demonstrations”. The new law calls for prison terms of up to five years for wearing a mask at an illegal protest and ten years if a protest turns into a riot.
Although Canada already has laws on the books regarding the wearing of masks during criminal and indictable offenses the lawmakers have seen fit to pass the draconian law which some say will have a chilling effect on peaceful protests, something many feel it was designed to do.
According to the general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association Nathalie Des Rosiers, in an article in the Canadian Daily Mail: “We’re concerned that if it is used it would simply create a chill on protests and prevent people from protesting peacefully altogether. On its face, it looks more symbolic than anything.”
For reasons unbeknownst to us the Canadian lawmakers decided to pass the law on Halloween, a holiday famous for masks. Are they being humorous or is this a slap-in-the-face to Occupiers and students who effectively demonstrated against tuition increases? Or are they after those would dare support the group Anonymous and wear Guy Fawkes masks?
In an article on RT Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae said in a statement: "I don't think people understand the implications that it has, when does wearing a toque low on your face become a mask? Are we going to ban people from appearing in a protest because they are wearing a burqa? Are we going to say that on a cold day that people can't wear a mask?"
The reasons for the passing of the arcane law can be many on the surface, the claim that during the recent football riots it was impossible for police to arrest and prosecute rioters may be valid but it is actually redundant to have a mask law when there are already such laws on the Canadian books and participating in unlawful gatherings is already “unlawful” and taking parts in riots is also illegal.
According to Canadian media reports the bill was formed in response to the 2011 Stanley Cup riots which took place in Vancouver, British Columbia. Canadian media also reports that the main targets of the bill are members of the Blak Bloc anarchist group, who show up at demonstrations and try to escalate tensions and who many claim are undercover police.
Regardless of all of the reasoning for the bill, it is redundant and unneeded. Unless we look at the real reasons for it; one might argue that with the billions of dollars that they US and Canada have spent on facial recognition technology, the counter measure of a simple mask, nullifies all their efforts, something lawmakers would never admit. Another reason might also be the growing protest movements across North America and the fear by the authorities of a popular uprising, something that those in power will do anything and everything to suppress.
The questions surrounding the bill and the chances for the law to be abused are many. When does a peaceful protest become “tumultuous”? Will a scarf on a cold day, worn by a protestor be enough to throw the person behind bars for 10 years? What happens when a mask is part of the message of the protest? Such as Guy Fawkes masks? Will anyone wearing a Guy Fawkes mask now be a target for arrest? The mask is the message after all and such masks will never be authorized. What about the Occupy Movement, will they have to leave their faces bare on cold days or risk a decade behind bars? Their peaceful protests are rarely “authorized”.
If Russia, on the other hand, had such laws on the books then the group Pussy Riot would have gotten 10 years for wearing masks at their unlawful and tumultuous demonstrations. Instead of the mere 2 years for an act of religious hatred and the desecration of the holiest church for Russian Orthodox Christians.
North America has been on the road to fascism for decades now and this is just another law and another attempt at stripping away the rights of the population and controlling the masses by fear. The constant and ever present fear many in North America have of losing their God-given-freedom.
Americans long ago gave up their liberty and freedom in the name of security, now Canadians must follow suit? There used to be a joke that the only difference between Americans and Canadians was that Americans had guns and Canadians had health care. Perhaps this is not far from the truth?