Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bill 78. Martial Law. Canada.

Martial Law In Alberta? 


Under the Alberta Emergency Management Act, The Alberta Provincial Government has given themselves the power to do the following things to you and your family under anything they deem to be an emergency.
Authorize the conscription of person(s)…

(“Conscription” is legally defined as a “draft” for armed service)
Authorize the entry into any building or on any land, without warrant…
Control or prohibit travel to or from any area…
Acquire or utilize any real or personal property considered necessary… (Your food, fuel, vehicles, home , land etc.)
“Procure”…food, clothing, fuel, equipment…property, services, resources… (Anything and everything as well as forced labour)
Section 17 (a) & (b) of the Alberta Emergency Management Act states:
Any person who: contravenes this Act or the regulations, or interferes with or obstructs any person in the exercise of any power or the performance of any duty conferred or imposed by this Act or the regulations, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year. ( in other words… if you resist…. your going to prison)
Under the Act it also states that:
“Neither council nor any member of council, and no person appointed by council… is liable in respect of damage caused through any action taken under this bylaw, nor are they subject to any proceedings by prohibition, certiorari, mandamus or injunction.” ( giving no legal recourse under the ACT for the actions listed above)
The main stream news in Alberta has been very critical about the push against this, one writer Paula Simons. Has posted an article on both the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal. But even Paula admits:
“The law does give local and regional governments extraordinary powers. Under its provisions, governments can order people to evacuate an area. They can seize or demolish property. They can fix the prices of food and equipment. They can impose a quarantine, banning people from leaving a region or the province. They can even conscript people into government service.” The Edmonton journal article is titled: Run for the hills, the government is coming for us and can be read below Global TV Lethbridge has covered the the repeal of this bill, but the Alberta government will have it re introduced within a month.


Simons: Run for the hills, the government is coming for us 
Overstatements and stretching of the truth affect us all 
MARCH 16, 2012
The Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton.
The Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton.
Photograph by: Ryan Jackson ,

EDMONTON - I turned on my computer Thursday night to find four identical emails waiting for me. In the most lurid terms, they warned me of a secret provincial conspiracy to seize my property, and potentially conscript me and my family members into quasi-military service. 

The legislation in question? Alberta’s long-standing Emergency Management Act, which does indeed give the provincial government, municipalities, counties, First Nations, and Métis settlements, sweeping powers to seize property or press people into service in the event of an emergency such as a forest fire, flood or deadly pandemic.

The email, which was copied to dozens of journalists, politicians, and media outlets, was engineered to spread. “Simply hit the “REPLY TO ALL” button in your email program and write your response of opposition,” it advised.

“Your email will INSTANTLY go to virtually all the media, and the official opposition party members of the Alberta Government. We NEED to let them know, we are against this horrible legislation and we don’t live in RED COMMUNIST CHINA and THEY NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! This goes hand in hand with the Nazi Style “Land USE” legislation. More of the same!”

“If you are feeling REALLY disgusted or Violated that the government would do this to you and your family,” it continued, “feel free to hit the “REPLY TO ALL” button as many times as you wish.”

“For those of us on Facebook and Twitter.... Lets make this insane violation against us as HUMANs go viral.... Lets get the word out there and bring this horrific legislation Down!!!”

Comparing the Progressive Conservative government to both the Nazis and Communist China in one email is quite the accomplishment. Think of it as a cross between an old-fashioned chain letter and the Kony 2012 viral social media campaign.

To an extent, the campaign is working. Certainly, people forwarded the letter to me. (And here I am, writing about it.) Beyond that, public outrage about this supposed government plot has already compelled the county council in Cardston to withdraw a proposed emergency preparedness bylaw this week, after hundreds of angry protesters showed up at a meeting to voice their outrage. But just as with the typical viral chain letter — and the Kony 2012 campaign — this email is a mix of exaggerations and half-truths, and dangerous ones at that.

 Alberta’s Emergency Management Act is not new. It was most recently amended in 2011, but legislation with similar wording and intent has been on the books since 1974. The law does give local and regional governments extraordinary powers.

Under its provisions, governments can order people to evacuate an area.

They can seize or demolish property.

They can fix the prices of food and equipment.

They can impose a quarantine, banning people from leaving a region or the province.

They can even conscript people into government service.

But as dire as that sounds, the law also has strict limitations. A local state of emergency can only last seven days. A provincial or regional one lasts for up to 14 days or 90 days in the case of an influenza pandemic. People who have their property seized or destroyed are guaranteed legal compensation.

That’s not enough to soothe the mind of Dan Stephan, the Cardston county man behind this week’s viral campaign. “It’s martial law,” he says. “We’ve got to have this repealed or revised or reworded.” Stephan says he agrees that there should be some kind of emergency management plan in place, but that current legislation goes too far. As he sees it, the law could force people into military service, and lead to political tyranny. “Where do you draw the line? Where do you say no? Citizens are saying, ‘No way in hell do we let this hang over us.’ There is too much power granted — and into whose hands? What if it gets into the hands of a government that goes sideways on it?”

Stephan says he has the support of the Wildrose party and that he hopes to convince the party to make the repeal or amendment of the Emergency Management Act part of the upcoming election campaign. According to Evan Menzies, communications assistant for the Wildrose Party, MLA Paul Hinman agrees the act is too intrusive. Hinman, he says, believes the law is unnecessary, because in times of emergency, Albertans do not need to be forced to help their neighbours.

That’s a nice sentiment. But in times of emergency, governments do sometimes need the power to step in and take urgent action, without being forced to rely on the kindness of neighbours.

Stephan is no stranger to political battles or grassroots activism. He and his family run an Alberta company called Truehope, which spent years fighting Health Canada for the right to market EMPowerplus, a controversial “micronutrient” which, according to Truehope, is a natural treatment for bipolar disorder — a miracle cure to some, snake-oil quackery to others. I can’t speak to the validity of Truehope’s medical claims. But Stephan’s claims about the Emergency Management Act are wildly overstated.

The act doesn’t trump the Constitution, the charter or the Municipal Government Act. It doesn’t give the Town of Slave Lake or Cardston County or the Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement the power to impose a dictatorship or force people into armed conflict.

It does, however, give a local fire department the right to bulldoze your barn to help create a firebreak, the right to seize your pickup truck to help evacuate a flood zone, and even the right to force you to help pile sandbags or open your home to evacuees.

Those powers are extraordinary — that’s why they can only be used for a very short time, under very extraordinary circumstances. In an urgent life-and-death crisis, there isn’t always time to go to court to get a warrant, to hold a hearing, to convene a town council meeting.

This legislation is draconian on its face and it certainly, it should never be invoked lightly. But sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures. Sometimes, you have to be able to seize first and compensate later. And in all the years that legislation of this type has been on the books in Alberta, it hasn’t led to the end of democracy or the long-term suspension of civil rights.

Eternal vigilance, is, indeed, the price of freedom. And it is a good and healthy thing for people to guard their freedoms zealously and jealously. But whipping up a frenzy about tried and tested legislation, by preying on people’s worst fears, isn’t good citizenship.

Before you hit the “forward” button on that email, before you retweet, be very sure you understand what you’re doing and not spreading a virus that erodes public trust and spreads misinformation.


Quebec's Bill 78 threatens freedom of expression

Published: Wednesday, May. 30, 2012 - 12:09 pm
/CNW/ - PEN Canada today voiced further concerns that Bill 78, passed two weeks ago by the Quebec National Assembly, constitutes a serious threat to freedom of expression. Its vague and dangerously overbroad provisions can easily be interpreted in ways that constrain and discourage legitimate collective action and civil protest.
"The whole Bill looks thrown together," said Charlie Foran, president of PEN Canada. "Its penalties are draconian and disproportionate, designed more to stifle free expression than protect public order. The reported mass arrests in Quebec suggest that the authorities have been given too much latitude to interpret and enforce this new law. Legislatively, it's the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut."
PEN believes the Bill's prior notification requirements for demonstrations (section 16) are unreasonable and ill-suited to the realities of modern protest. Imposing penalties on organizers who fail to notify authorities "not less than eight hours before the beginning of the demonstration" would, if enforced, rule out all but the most premeditated forms of civic action. The uncertain phrasing of section 30, which may, on its face, make it illegal to attend demonstrations that violate the provisions of section 16, also exposes individuals who attend these gatherings to fines of up to $5000 per day, or more in certain circumstances. In general, the fines provided for breach of theBill's provisions are grossly excessive. Taken together, these measures are easily abused by authorities and likely to result in a serious chill on freedom of expression.
Philip Slayton, Chair of PEN Canada's National Affairs Committee, described the bill as "poorly drafted and too easily open to interpretations that permitunreasonable limitations on freedom of expression. As it stands, the situations in which the Bill's penalties could be brought to bear on individual protesters are so vague and open-ended that they can be used to deter demonstrations that should be perfectly acceptable in a free and democratic society." 
PEN Canada fights censorship and defends the right to freedom of expression.

Published on May 23, 2012 by 
The protests (and the associated police brutality) are still continuing in . In response, the government has brought us one step closer to martial law with the passage of Bill 78, which allows cops to fine people $5k-$125k for attending a protest of over 50 people, where a permit has not been issued or details not reveled beforehand. The fines also apply to anyone attending a protest while wearing a hoodie, scarf or mask. Despite facing such stiff penalties, the protesters continue, undeterred and strong in numbers, and chanting 'La loi speciale, on s'en calisse!' (we don't give a damn about your special law)

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