Stop the War on Free Speech in London, ON

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We the residents of London, Ontario demand that Mayor Matt Brown and the rest of City Council repeal the second part of a motion passed at City Hall on August 22, 2017 that states:

"Civic Administration be directed to prepare the necessary formal council policy to confirm the prohibition of activities of organizations whose ideologies is contrary to the City of London are not permitted in civic spaces, and/or facilities and spaces."

This emergency motion was issued by Mayor Matt Brown at council calling on Londoners to stand against all forms of racism, bigotry and hatred.

Racism, bigotry and hatred have no place in London but our right to free speech does.

As Londoners, we are vehemently in opposition to any motion that is passed by this City Council that undermines our fundamental and constitutional rights, freedoms, and laws under the guise of political correctness.

Andrew Sancton, the former head of Western University’s local government program and a highly respected academic in Canada said council’s vagueness could have serious consequences. “This is extremely dangerous because it looks like it’s almost limitless in its application, and it could cause all kinds of trouble,” Sancton said.

Constitutional expert and Professor at the University of Waterloo, Emmett Macfarlane, has come out opposing the anti-free speech motion as well. He says any bylaw using language similar to the council motion wouldn’t withstand a constitutional challenge. “(It) would, in my view, fall clearly offside with the Charter of Rights and freedom of expression guarantees,” he said.

“It’s not to say that there are no limits whatsoever that can be placed on expression, but if you have such broad and vague and ambiguous language, you’re going to run into serious trouble, I think."

This motion appears to violate the Code of Conduct for Members of Council under Rule 2.5 which states: "Members shall seek to serve the public interest by upholding both the letter and the spirit of the laws of the Federal Parliament, the Ontario Legislature, and the by-laws and policies of the Corporation."

Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants every single person in Canada under section 2 with:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.

Londoners who are victims of hate speech are already protected by hate speech laws under sections 318-320 of the Criminal Code. If anyone or any group is in violation of the hate speech clause then they will face the full extent of the law. There is a difference between dangerous speech, which is crime, and offensive speech, which we have to tolerate even if we don’t like it.

City Council is not a court of justice. They should not be pre-determining who is innocent or guilty of a crime. They are elected to govern not to adjudicate. Any person(s) or organization (s) should be given a chance to exercise their rights as Canadians and considered innocent until proven guilty. We are fortunate to live in Canada where the separation of powers protects our citizens from institutional abuses of our human rights.

This City Council was also not elected to ride the coat tails of U.S. politics. 

“Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen." - George Orwell


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