To live outside the Law, you must be honest

The lads in Edmonton, politely taking down a railway blockade are a logical outcome of the abject failure of government to actually deal with the ongoing Wetsuweten fandango.

I was delighted to see these gentlemen take direct action but it brings into sharp relief the effects of ongoing, tolerated, illegality.

Much is made of “the rule of law” which is a malleable concept and can be used to justify the Liberal goverment’s forbearance from cracking down on the protestors, the protestor’s own claims as to a SCC endorsed higher rule of law which gives FN hereditary chiefs precedence in the matter of title to unceded lands, and the rights of a bunch of Alberta boys to clear the garbage off the tracks. These competing claims to the benefits of the rule of law are going to be tested in the next several days.

My own analysis is that if you want to claim a benefit from the law you must first obey it in all its particulars. Claiming the right to protest – essentially a free speech claim – makes great sense within Canada’s Charter framework. And your protest might, in fact, involve blocking traffic or access to land. What it cannot involve, if you want to continue to enjoy the protection of the law, is defying or ignoring an Order of a Court having jurisdiction. When you do that you a) break the law, b) put yourself outside the protection of the law.

The reason we expect the police to enforce Court Orders is that they are trained, accountable and are given the monopoly on force in a civil society. They sometimes screw up but they have to answer for their errors.

The Edmonton lads behaved perfectly. Hats off and all that. But it could have gone another way and almost certainly will if the politicians sideline the cops. Much as I admire the self-help ethos of those Albertans, we cannot always count on private citizens to be so polite. Especially if the protesters get a bit stroppy about having their “sacred items” removed from the rail lines and highways of the nation. To date, the allies of the FN protesters have been nice, white, middle class young women and old radicals. Antifa and Black Bloc people have been largely absent. That will not be the case if this drags on.

The Edmonton lads have, I believe, given the federal and provincial governments the cover they need to shut down the “support” protests forthwith. There is a legitimate concern that the protesters are going to have the shit kicked out of them, and vice versa, if the situation is allowed to continue. Time to actually enforce the rule of law and the injunctions which flow from it. No exception, no negotiation: if you ignore or defy a Court Order you will be told to stop and, if you do not, you’ll be arrested and charged.

We cannot afford to have bits and pieces of Canada where the law does not run. Even our dim witted Prime Minister must realize that. Time to stop virtue signalling and start ensuring that society remains civil and governed by the rule of law.

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