Removal of Occupy Calgary from Olympic Plaza poses threat to fundamental freedoms

November 17, 2011 – CALGARY, AB — The Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association (RMCLA) urges City of Calgary officials to be patient and continue to deal with Occupy Calgary keeping uppermost in their minds the importance of the rights and freedoms at stake.

Freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association are fundamental to our democracy and are enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Living in a vibrant democracy can be complicated, but government must deal appropriately with protest, both lawfully and civilly.  The City of Calgary seems to have decided that the time “allowed” for free expression, assembly and association has run out.  But there is no statute of limitations on these fundamental freedoms.

RMCLA appreciates that not just anything goes, and that rights and freedoms can be limited by law, but not just by any law.  The by-laws the City of Calgary seeks to enforce may themselves be unconstitutional because they contravene the Charter.

RMCLA urges the City of Calgary to be patient, to continue to engage with Occupy Calgary organizers and to consult the courts before moving against Occupy Calgary, if unilateral enforcement of by-laws is thought absolutely necessary.

“There is no need to rush,” says Kelly Ernst, Secretary-Treasurer of RMCLA.  “Democratic resolution of the issues around the
Occupy movement is an extraordinarily important matter.  Those issues must be handled in a manner that respects the seriousness of the rights at stake.”

If the City goes to court, Occupy must be given enough time to respond.  Only if Occupy Calgary is treated in a procedurally fair way will the outcome be seen as legitimate by the broader public in the long run.

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