What, exactly, is an acceptable protest?

Date:

Experts explain what the Charter of Rights protects and when the courts can step in

B.C. government officials have denounced some of the actions taken by protesters in recent days in demonstrations supporting Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in their fight against a natural gas pipeline.

On Thursday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issued a stern warning to activists who have blocked entrances to the legislature and plan to shut down other government buildings. He said there will be consequences for those who “cross the line.”

“What is not acceptable are protests that intimidate people, what is not acceptable are protests that harass people, what are not acceptable are protests that frighten people,” Farnworth said.

But where is the line between acceptable and unacceptable? CBC News asked two experts on politics and the law to explain.

Government officials have alleged that public servants were bullied during Tuesday’s demonstration at the legislature, and police say four people reported they were assaulted. No one has been arrested to date.

David Moscrop, a political scientist and post-doctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa, said a protest has clearly gone too far when someone has been physically harmed.

“I don’t think standing in front of a politician who’s trying to get into a building constitutes violence,” he said.

Read full article here.

CBC News – Feb 13, 2020.

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