Friday, November 27, 2009

Olympics: City in damage control

Betty Krawczyk protesting the Olympics. Photo John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the lawsuit that Chris Shaw and Alissa Westergard-Thorpe brought against the City of Vancouver with the assistance of lawyer Jason Gratl. The legal challenge was over the City’s anti-Olympic protest bylaw, which according to the two plaintiffs violated the people’s right to freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter.

I had commented back then on the relevance and brilliance of that lawsuit which could only result in two possible outcomes:
  • either the bylaw would be repealed and the Canadian Charter would come out strengthened;
  • or it would be upheld and the crowd control agenda of the corporate-government complex would be exposed in broad light.
Well, as it turns out we may just be getting the best of both worlds. The City of Vancouver has announced yesterday that it will amend the bylaw to remove some of its most offensive and anti constitutional content. By the looks of it, it will be neutered out of relevance if not repealed altogether. In response, Chris Shaw indicated that he is not prepared to withdraw his lawsuit. His comment to me in an email this morning was that “we have not seen the report to Council and, of course, still don't know what Council will do. In my view, the bylaw changes are not yet sufficient to withdraw the lawsuit.” In effect, he is not letting go until the government's crowd control agenda is fully exposed.

This stunning victory that Shaw may be about to obtain is a vivid reminder to the rest of us demoralized, apathetic and broken down activists that when you are right, you just don't give up. In this instance, all it took was two determined individuals and one lawyer, and a strategic piece of the Olympic repressive apparatus is about to take a humpty dumpty nosedive. Better still, it appears that a solid civil rights coalition is now forming around Shaw in response to this botched attempt by the City and Province to clamp down on our basic freedoms.

One can only wonder what on earth City Council was thinking when they voted this bylaw from another time. First, they sold out to the brutal demands of the transnational corporate complex which owns the Olympics. Now, they are going in damage control after realizing in a panic that Shaw and Westergard-Thorpe’s challenge is not going away. They are tripping all over themselves. What an ugly sight, coming from people of the progressive left who entered this arena with the best intentions and were supposed to bring – ahem – “change” to Vancouver civic politics.

My hat down to COPE councilor Ellen Woodsworth who had both the moral compass and political savvy to know that this thing was way too smelly to write her name under it. She is a true leader and will continue to receive my enthusiastic support.

As for the Vision Vancouver councilors, I have one question. Yeah I love the Burrard bridge bike lane. But is that really all you've got?


1 comment:

  1. I am proud of the 2 people and their lawyer who are fighting the Transnational Corporate Complex that owns the IOC. I hope they really will step on the toes of the City and the Provincial Corporate controlled government of Premier Gordon Campbell.
    When will people wake up and realize, that the Corporate complex is taking over everything - the rich get richer and more and more people will live on the street.