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LETTER: Oro-Medonte bylaw violates Charter, citizen claims

In a democracy, people must be free to discuss matters of public policy, criticize governments and offer solutions to social problems, letter writer says
oro medonte council feb 2020
Oro-Medonte Township Council voted recently to enact a bylaw that includes a 'code of conduct for members of the public.'

BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a story titled 'Oro-Medonte residents say new 'muzzle' for citizens is 'rubbish'' published on Dec. 30. 

I am writing to you to express my concerns about the new Oro-Medonte bylaw, “code of conduct for members of the public.”

The bylaw is a blatant attempt to violate the freedom of expression rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This freedom is so basic that any proposed bylaw to infringe on them should have been laughed out of the council chambers.

The fact it was considered, debated and passed is stunning.

The plain language of the government of Canada website explains this right:

“These freedoms are set out in the Charter to ensure that Canadians are free to create and express their ideas, gather to discuss them and  communicate them widely to other people. These activities are basic forms of individual liberty. They are also important to the success of a democratic society like Canada. In a democracy, people must be free to discuss matters of public policy, criticize governments and offer their own solutions to social problems.” (Emphasis added by letter writer.)

It may take a legal challenge, and the township could incur substantial legal fees defending a losing cause, but that is the price of freedom. 

The solution to avoid this costly and embarrassing possibility is to admit the mistake and repeal the bylaw. The sooner the better.

Keith A. Doxsee