The Brew 2 - Municipal, Provincial, Federal
Thursday, January 31, 20130 Comments
So have you heard about the city of Guelph's proposed new nuisance bylaw. The city council wants to be able to regulate all sorts of offences without having to resort to criminal charges. Unfortunately how they have gone about this is they have got inspiration from a bunch of pre-existing nuisance bylaws, thrown them all together and said hey Guelph. What do you think? And there is a bunch of things in there that are not exactly Democratic. Now I could rant on about this for hours on end but I am going to choose three points of it to highlight for you right now. First of all, there is a lot of vagueness about the bill. It does not really define what a nuisance is. It does say at one point that you cant annoy anyone but I mean...fuck, if I was to get a fine every time I annoy someone I cant even tell you how much money I would owe this city.
There's also an entire section of bylaw that goes with what's called nuisance parties which basically translate into whichever level of party pisses you off your neighbor the most. Now we live in communities and there's something to be said for being able to control parties that get too raging too out of hand too... whatever. The issue is students are more likely to throw these parties more than any other demographic so this can be used as a weapon to counteract students. Another contentious of the bylaw is the line that reads, no one may host or participate in a protest or rally that exceeds 24 hours. The reason for this is that if you are having your protest exceed that time there's issues about sanitation, do you need porta-potties, waste, do you need garbage cans, things of that nature. The issue is, the right to protest and the right to free assembly is one of our fundamental aspects of democracy and if they are trying to control that in any way, that shouldn't be allowed. Overall the entire bylaw seems to be largely up to the discretion to whichever bylaw officer or administrator is seizing at the time. Especially when you think of things like giving or altering permits, handing out your handbills or flyers or honesty anything that's in there it places a lot of power in the hands of a few people arguably a lot more than they really should have. So the questions students seems to keep on their minds as they go forward is am I really a nuisance to this town? In the first episode of the brew you heard about the federal governments omnibus budget bill passed in june despite criticism of its undemocratic nature and its contents. Well, guess what folks we've been hit with a second one with a whopping 443 pages. Why should we be concerned about this? Well like the first bill it includes everything but the kitchen sink. Criticisms surrounding the bill include further weakening of environmental policy, a general lack of consultation concerning its contents, and the shifting of power more so into the hands of individual ministers than before.Want an example? One of the changes puts the Indian act awarding more power to the aboriginal affairs minister in decision-making processes concerning the surrendering of band territory. This change and many others have prompted loud voices calling on MPs to vote in favor of a number of amendments. But the loudest voice of them all? The almighty dollar. And the result? The conservative majority voted down all amendments and the bill passed in 6 hours.
So, luckily for us the federal government isn't the only one confused about democracy, the provincial government is as well. Aside form taking a lesson from Stephen Harper and proroguing parliament, they also introduced bill 115, or the putting student's first act. So why is bill 115 worth some attention? Well it sets some really scary precedents. Passed before Dalton Mcguinty resigned as premier the bill one takes away the collective bargaining rights of education workers, two it takes away decision making power from local school boards and puts it in the hands of the government and three and scariest of all the bill can't be taken to task on terms of the Ontario human rights code, the labor relations act or the courts because it said so. That's like us playing a game of tag and I'm not it because I say I'm not it.Originally pushed through wit some tried and true scare tactics of "please think of the children," the bill set out that if the unions of education workers didn't come up with an agreement by December 31st, don't think about striking, the government can give them one.The bill has since been repealed. The government say's because it served its purpose. Hopefully the pressure put on them by the union helped as well, and its not just because the government wants them back on their side incase there is an election. Either way, don't be surprised to see bill 115 part two the next time the next union contract comes up. Hopefully you are going to have a job one day. Don't you want your rights protected?