Two people in the City of Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada are celebrating a rather sad anniversary. The first anniversary of their indefinite banishment from a public park. Marina Park to be exact.
According to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms every Canadian:
- has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
- is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;
What kind of a crime warrants depriving two law abiding, taxpaying, citizens of Thunder Bay their rights and freedoms which are guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Murder? Robbery? Vandalism? Littering? Not picking up after their dog? Listening to Celine Dion? No. People guilty of all those crimes and more were never banned from entering a public park in Thunder Bay. Not that I know of anyway. Maybe the Dion fans were but I am pretty sure the murders and vandals were not.
In Thunder Bay, people who exercise their right to free speech get banned from a public park. No evidence was ever presented by the municipal government to justify having these peoples freedom taken away. Under the Trespass to Property Act, presenting evidence to prove guilt is not required. In Thunder Bay, guilt is presumed. Innocence must be proven. I am sure that is exactly how the Fathers of Confederation wanted our justice system to work. Guilty until proven innocent. Police threaten to throw you in jail for being “argumentative”. Argumentative behavior includes asking questions. Any questions. Trumped up accusations by a government against dissidents. Accused assumed guilty. Sounds a lot like how China or Iran or North Korea or Russia or Myanmar or Zimbabwe or the “Harper Government”(trademarked I understand) one of any number of bad guys around the globe treat their citizens.
Over the past year, these two people have not been able to attend any event that was held in Marina Park. The Thunder Bay Blues Festival, Summer Concerts in the Park, the Visit of the HMS Bounty, and A Taste of India Festival are some of the events that were missed because of the ban. All events that all the other residents of Thunder Bay were allowed to attend. All events that the two were prohibited under their indefinite bans.
As bad as missing these events were, being unable to attend Thunder Bay’s Canada Day celebrations was worse. Irony upon irony. The party celebrating the anniversary of the birth of the best country in the world to live in is held in Marina Park.
So, in a country where its citizens have the right to disagree with its government and speak up about it. In a country where free speech is a cherished right. In a country that has soldiers fighting and dying to give Afghan citizens a chance to enjoy what we, Canadians, take for granted – in a country called Canada – in a province called Ontario-in a city called Thunder Bay, people are punished for speaking out against the local government. People are presumed guilty. No evidence required. No public hearing. Innocence must be proven. Police threaten you with jail if you ask questions.
Such is life in The Peoples Republic of Thunder Bay.