By Letter to the Editor on February 21, 2020.
Balancing the rights of the individual with that of the group, and the rights of a minority with that of the country, has exerted the minds of professionals and lay people for centuries. Historically, the country comes first regarding national interests.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states: “2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association.”
Rights and freedoms are conditional and have limits. The Charter states that these rights and freedoms must be exercised peacefully within the laws of Canada and its provinces. When a demonstration turns violent, the law is broken, and the police may intervene.
If it is unlawful for demonstrators to injure people or damage property, then it is unlawful, too, hurting Canada’s economy. By blocking roads and railway lines, the right of the majority to move freely (Charter, section 6) is violated, and various sectors of the economy will suffer severe losses.
The government and legislatures have the right to uphold the law by removing the blockades and blockaders. Get the ringleaders. When people break the law, they lose some of their rights and freedoms.
Demonstrators must learn and accept that there is a vast difference between peaceful and damaging demonstrations. One cannot fight for one’s own rights by trampling on the rights of others.
I can’t understand why the authorities hesitate to do the right thing by ending these unlawful disruptions of Canada’s transport and the economies dependant on it.
Is it to win a seat on the Security Council? How can one presume to help keep the world in order if one can’t control a small disruptive section in one’s own country?
Jacob Van Zyl