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Alberta Conservatives try to outlaw protest

This protest in Calgary on June 3 would be illegal under the new law
Vic Rozon

June 12, 2020

Alberta’s the United Conservative Party recently passed Bill 1 - The Critical Infrastructure Protection Act - pushing Alberta towards authoritarianism to try to silence the voices of individuals who advocate against "essential infrastructure."

This legislation will deeply impact us due to the broad way that it identifies essential infrastructure. The list includs sidewalks, roads, oil and gas infrastructure, as well as public and private property. Not only is this bill broad, but it gives the police the opportunity to arrest an individual without a warrant, criminalizing environmentalists, LGBTQ+, indigenous peoples, and other visablel minorities who are fighting for their rights, raising their voices against a government that has little consideration for their concerns.

It's Time to Listen
A wide array of individuals and organizations are beginning to raise their concerns to the public. Political blogger David Climenhaga argued that “Bill 1 is unconstitutional in a way that shows deep contempt for the whole concept of the rule of law, which is ironic if not surprising given the way this government and Canadian Conservatives in general are always prattling on about the rule of law when someone is doing something they don’t like.”

Many other Albertans have protested in response since this bill has been proposed, arguing that the legislation challenges the basic rights of individuals living in Alberta. Unions in Alberta are responding as well, saying that this conservative government has been targeting unions. Bill 1 will go far enough to dismantle picket lines, and criminalize workers who strike for the betterment of their fellow comrades and their families. The AFL (Alberta Federation of Labour) responded that this legislation is “clearly designed to stop or discourage all collective action that goes against the UCP agenda, including potential labour or worker action.” They also point out that this, “is a dangerous step down the road to the kind of right-wing authoritarianism we see taking hold in other parts of the world like India, Brazil, Hungary and even the United States under Donald Trump.” This shows that the current government will do anything in their power to try to stop any opposition in its tracks.

We should have the right to speak up, and not have to worry about being thrown in jail for up to 3 months or fined a minimum of $1,000 (for a first time offence). This bill challenges our basic freedom to speak up. This will greatly affect visable minorities over anyone else because when it comes to protesting, we are advocating for people who get lost in the privileged voices in our society. We see this in all areas of activism; the government is trying to control this movement through fear by using the justice system against the people who are simply advocating for their human rights.

We are Winning

However, one way to look at the choices the UCP have made (one example being this bill) is that they are losing, and because they see that they are failing at fighting against environmental advocates they have built their war room, passed this bill, and have illustrated an unethical image of the advocates involved.

The truth is that we are currently winning and we shouldn't allow ourselves to be controlled by the state, leaving an opportunity for visablel minorities to be plunged deeper into the oppression which our system has created. We need to hold our state responsible, challenge our government, and continue to show society that we cannot continue to work under this impractical system. When does it go too far? Or has this gone far enough? What is the tipping point before Albertans start a revolution in response to our radical government? This bill leaves us with the important decision to decide when enough is enough, and I think it's time for us to show Jason Kenney that we will not leave quietly.

Legislation will not control this movement. Our voices will not be silenced. United we will win.

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