The Council of Canadian Europeans notes the recent tactics of Antifa on the UBC campus. This will also be in the next Cantandum, but my comments turned into a blog post.
We’re seeing a lot of this lately. It’s the same old story. Two professors tried to give a talk and Anitfa showed up to stop it. Same thing in Copenhagen recently with the Scandza forum. This business about the police not enforcing the law with respect to the Antifa, Extinction Rebellion, and the Progressive Left generally, is not going away because we complain about it. The police have allegedly been told to hold off, often with excuses about respecting freedom of peaceful assembly or expression or some made up ‘right to protest’. Civil order be dammed.
This is an example of where a valid legal interpretation makes absurd results. In Canada, such rights are protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. See section 2. The Charter only protects those rights against government (Canada and the provinces) or government actors (municipalities and the police, for our purposes). So, the argument goes, the police should not interfere with an Antifa or Extinction Rebellion protest because to do so breaches the Charter. However, where Antifa acts as a bunch of thugs to coerce other private actors, the Charter does not apply to protect the rights of their targets. That’s a private matter, and the only relief they can get is to ask the police to stop Antifa, which the police cannot because…Charter. This is an argument I see in the press and from protesters.
This is just wrong. First, the Charter right is for ‘peaceful’ assembly. Watch that video in Hamilton where a disabled senior citizen was blocked and called ‘Nazi scum!‘ No ‘peaceful’ happening there. It’s funny, but section 1 says the rights in the Charter are subject to “…reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”. One would expect that the right to peacefully assemble means no unreasonable attempts to inhibit others freedom, such as blocking rush hour traffic in major cities for your Extinction Rebellion protest. (Note in the pictures that the police are protecting the protesters, as if people just trying to get to work, or their kids to school, are the real danger. Never mind those people pay the taxes that the police rely on for funding.) Parties are always happy to trot out the section 1 limitation when justifying some violation of the Charter which benefits them, but when it could work against them they just ignore it.
It might turn out that politicians realize that cracking down on this nonsense will get them votes from the Silent Majority. Or, Antifa could turn out to be the useful idiots that install the next totalitarian regimes in our nations. Or, something in between, like the Weather Underground. Regardless, other tactics are going to have to be found to prevent Antifa and others from shutting down dissident events in the immediate future. I wish I had some advice to give in that respect, other than moving underground. Feel free to complain to your local politicians and police departments of course, but don’t expect much to change.