News for Youse: Get ready to riot, but leave your mask at home
Five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000. That's what masked or disguised protesters could be facing if a new bill passes in Canada's House of Commons.
The Conservative government announced its support of the private member's bill yesterday (May 6), which pretty much ensures the bill will become law later this year. The government posits that it'll be easier to prevent riots if those who are in disguise can be more harshly prosecuted. And we all know that's the key to riot prevention. Obviously those people we saw breaking into businesses and looting during 2011's Stanley Cup riot were masked, right?
The bill will only apply during riots or "unlawful assemblies", which means the police could easily consider any peaceful mass gathering of people as "unlawful" if anyone shows up wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, any kind of costume, face paint, or a bandanna over their mouth, aka protection from pepper spray.
(Well, yes. We suppose that could apply to costumed participants in Vancouver's monthly Critical Mass bike ride. We don't understand what you're trying to get at, though.)
Françoise Boivin, NDP justice critic and all-around voice of sanity, noted that police are already legally entitled to arrest people who are inciting riots and have legal authority to arrest anyone wearing a mask while committing a crime, so what's the point of this bill really?
Readers, we'll leave that one up to your imaginations. But we suppose this is a warning to Occupy Vancouver participants to leave your funny costumes at home if you want to exercise your right to free speech in this country.
Meanwhile, the federal government is planning on spending upwards of $7.5 million on various items, events, multiple-gun salutes, and other assorted foofaraw to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. We here at News for Youse have but one question: WHY? After all the stink raised over the cost of fighter jets and orange juice, is it necessary for the majority Conservative government to waste money printing paper flags and having provincial celebrations for a queen who won't even be there? Oh, and isn't Canada its own country anyway? History is important, sure, but pointless pageantry and royalist boosterism, not so much.
The federal government will spend $1.8 million on something called "awareness initiatives". Newsflash: we have an out-of-date allegiance to a foreign head of state. What more do you need to be aware of?
Here's an idea: why don't you spend money fixing actual problems? Like figuring out who keeps ripping off bike shops in Nanaimo. The owners of Arrowsmith Bikes and Oak Bay Bicycles have started sleeping in their shops overnight in hopes of ending a rash of robberies at their stores, which have seen bicycles stolen and a fair amount of property damage. It's not solving world hunger or anything, but the benefits would be immediate and direct. Or maybe set your sights on ousting perennial embarrassment Rob Ford from office. We'll even stop wearing our rubber Queen Elizabeth masks to protests if you just shut him up for a day or so.
Follow Miranda Nelson on Twitter.