Demonstrators protest against Vic Toews and Conservative bills outside Richmond casino
A group of demonstrators gathered outside the River Rock Casino this evening in protest against three controversial pieces of legislation.
Activists held signs protesting omnibus crime bill C-10, copyright reform legislation C-11, and online surveillance bill C-30, as Public Safety Minister Vic Toews was expected to attend a Conservative fundraiser at the Richmond casino.
“I’m here to let Vic know that we’re watching,” said Russ Miller, one of the organizers of the demonstration.
“If Vic’s going to be watching all of us, we’re going to watch him right back.”
About 40 protestors gathered outside the casino steps between 5:30 and 7 p.m. in the evening, some carrying signs and wearing masks.
Dayla Hart said she came to the protest because she's concerned about Bill C-30, otherwise known as the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, which would enable police to obtain a customer’s name, IP address and other information from a telecommunications company without a warrant.
The legislation has drawn increased controversy since Toews said during a House of Commons debate that those who opposed Bill C-30 “can either stand with us or with the child pornographers”.
Hart said protests across Canada, both online and offline, have grown since Toews’ comments.
“I think due to the child pornographers thing that he talked about, it’s getting a bit of media attention, and so I think protests like this are going on across Canada, especially online, there’s a lot of activity,” she told the Straight.
“So I do think it can put a lot of pressure,” she added. “It is difficult to say what will happen, since we have a majority government, which means they can do whatever they want.”
Stephen Finlay, the secretary-general of the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, said he’s opposed to Bill C-10, the Conservative government’s omnibus crime bill, which among other measures contains mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences.
“We are opposed to drug prohibition," he said. “We know from experience and this is the experience not just of the past 40 years but pretty much of all history, that when you try to prohibit a drug, you actually do not reduce its use at all – all you do is make criminals rich.”
Demonstrator Neil Magnuson also attended the protest due to his opposition to drug prohibition.
“I think it’s the force behind the gangs that we’re having all the problems with, I think it criminalizes people for non-criminal behaviour,” he said.
Sarah Beuhler of OpenMedia.ca called Bill C-30 a “surveillance society bill”.
“It’s poorly thought-out, it’s warrantless, there’s no oversight included,” she told the Straight.
The Vancouver-based advocacy group OpenMedia.ca launched an online petition against Bill C-30 that now has over 110,000 signatures.