Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reminder: Email your councillor about the anti-speech by-law!

Council's agenda tomorrow includes a few important items, including the suggestion to reopen the urban boundary decision, and also George Bédard's 'nuisance by-law'.

Here's a letter I just fired off to Council. If you haven't already, please send one yourself (in your own words):

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

Tomorrow's Council meeting looks like it will be a marathon one. The nuisance By-law, proposed by Councillor Bédard, is a small but powerful item. I feel that it is far too powerful and broad for its intended goal.

You have heard opposition to this by-law from the Defense Counsel Association of Ottawa, as well as from the Centretown Citizens Community Association (whose area includes Elgin and Bank streets). Both say that this by-law crosses the line. The by-law technically outlaws such spontaneous activities as the Sens Mile, and even Christmas Carols, not to mention the threat it poses to political speech such as demonstrations.

I live on Gladstone Avenue near Bronson, and I knew when I moved in that it can get noisy at times. I've made my share of noise complaints under the existing noise by-law, which were successfully dealt with. After 1am, these complaints aren't handled by by-law officers but by the police, so a new by-law is redundant. The activities that Councillor Bédard describes in the report are already covered by criminal law.

I ask that you reject this motion, or at the very least refer it back to transportation Committee for further consultation and input from the public.
Misc updates:

- Mark Ertel, President of the Defense Counsel Association of Ottawa, has expressed the DCAO's opposition to the by-law, saying they'll try to have the by-law struck down when it gets used.

- The CCCA voted to oppose this by-law at its February meeting.

- The Panhandler's Union is examining its own strategies (I correspond with them but I'm not directly involved)

- It looks like the motion may be referred back to Transportation Committee, where more people can submit input after all this new opposition. This is much better than being approved!

Misc. references:

- Previous two posts on the topic: Honey, get my picket sign and Public speech ban by-law gets a step closer

- Text and background of motion: http://ottawa.ca/calendar/ottawa/citycouncil/trc/2010/02-03/07-ACS2010-CCS-TRC-0003.htm

- Agenda for tomorrow's Council meeting: http://www.ottawa.ca/cgi-bin/docs.pl?Elist=14495&lang=en

- Student leader arrested for 'causing a disturbance by swearing': http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Ottawa+student+federation+president+charged+with+causing+disturbance/2519096/story.html

- RG>

1 comment:

zoom said...

Thanks for the reminder, I'll get right on it.