Free Speech under attack!

Here’s something I didn’t know 24 hours ago. Did you know that it is illegal for anyone in the National Capital Region to use the term “Parliament Hill” to describe a place or business that isn’t that hill on which Canada’s Parliament resides? It’s true, and it’s outlined in s.80 of the Parliament of Canada Act,

80. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act of Parliament or regulation made thereunder, no person shall use the words “Parliament Hill” in combination

(a) to describe or designate a property, place, site or location in the National Capital Region described in the schedule to the National Capital Act other than the area of ground in the City of Ottawa bounded by Wellington Street, the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River and Kent Street;

(b) to identify any goods, merchandise, wares or articles for commercial use or sale; or

(c) in association with a commercial establishment providing services.

(2) Every person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

One wonders how many former political staffers have ever considered hanging their shingle on the name “Parliament Hill Consulting/Strategies/Communications/Group”

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One year ago today… Rallies for Canada

Today marks the one year anniversary of our Rallies for Canada from coast-to-coast-to-coast. We organized these during the week that turned this country’s politics upside down when the Liberal-NDP coalition was proposed and propped up by the Bloc Quebecois. We rallied in over 20 cities from Halifax to Victoria, in places such as Calgary and Toronto and pleasant surprises like Brandon, MB and London, ON. Here’s a video of my speech from the rally on Parliament Hill where the Ottawa Citizen reported that 3500 people attended on a chilly December day to express their shock and outrage over the proposed coalition.

Seen on the Hill: Jack Layton addresses the Tamil rally

From the Ottawa Citizen:

The red Tamil flag, with its tiger head and crossed rifles, had been a source of controversy during the protest, which is now in its third week. The protesters decided to leave the flags at home on Tuesday in a bid to have Canadian MPs hear their message.

Federal politicians have so far kept their distance from the protesters, nervous about the optics of being associated with protesters waving a flag identified with terrorism.

“The majority of people have made a collective decision to hold their flags in their hearts and minds, and not display them publicly,” Sentha Nada, a demonstrator from Toronto, said of Tuesday’s demonstration on the Hill.

Here’s some more background

Spotted on Parliament Hill

yesterday at about 3:30pm in the window of a Liberal MP (either Alan Tonks, Mike Savage or Andy Scott – hard to tell)

Section 322(1) of the Canadian Elections Act specifies that,

No landlord or person acting on their behalf may prohibit a tenant from displaying election advertising posters on the premises to which the lease relates and no condominium corporation or any of its agents may prohibit the owner of a condominium unit from displaying election advertising posters on the premises of his or her unit.

But… this isn’t exactly a private domicile. This is the Parliament of Canada and this is your House, and during an election no less. It should also be stated that this isn’t an MP supporting their own re-election; Penny Colenette is the Liberal candidate that is fighting for the seat of NDP MP Paul Dewar in Ottawa Centre.

Of course, such blatant politicizing of a public office will come to the attention of the Speaker who has ruled on signs in windows before.

What of the Liberals and abortion?

From the National Post:

OAKVILLE – Stephane Dion has challenged the Prime Minister to clarify his view on abortion, threatening to reignite the debate as Canada careens toward a fall election.
The Liberal leader issued his challenge to Stephen Harper while answering a question at a town hall meeting on Wednesday night in Oakville.

The event was billed as a discussion of Mr. Dion’s carbon tax plan, but a member of the audience instead asked his views on the Unborn Victims of Crime Act. The private member’s bill would make it a criminal offence to harm an unborn child during an attack on its mother.

Mr. Dion said he opposed the proposed legislation because it might infringe on women’s access to abortion.

“We need to protect everyone against crime, but, at the same time, it happens that I believe in the rights of women to choose and I have a lot of respect for the people who have a different view,” he told the crowd.
Mr. Dion then called upon Mr. Harper to state his own position on abortion.

And the latest in the Parliament Hill window series from Liberal MP Tom Wappel:

Is that a sign in Tom Wappel’s office? It looks familiar to another sign that sparked some controversy.

Is it really?

It is! Hooray for double standards!

Mr. Dion should ask some of his Toronto area MPs about their views. These photographs were taken today.

In 2005, Stephen Harper stated his views on legislation and abortion at the CPC policy convention:

“And, while I’m at it, I will tell you that, as prime minister, I will not bring forth legislation on the issue of abortion.”

FLASHBACK: Liberals are hypocrites on abortion

RELATED: Call the Parliament Hill window police

UPDATE: From Monday’s (8/25) Hill Times we learn that Tom Wappel took the sign from Rob Anders and put it up in his own window.

Re: “Tory MP Anders forced to remove ‘pro-life’ from East Block window” (The Hill Times, July 14, p. 1). Your article really intrigued me, as, in my 20 years as a Member of Parliament, I have never heard of a policy regarding what can or cannot be put in the window of Parliamentarians’ offices.

So I did a little digging. I contacted the Speaker’s office, the Sergeant-at-Arms Office, Canadian Heritage, the House Accommodation Services Office, and the Conservative Whip’s Office. Guess what? There is no policy!

Since there are signs in numerous other windows which were there before Mr. Anders removed his, and which are still there (e.g. “Veterans for Obama ’08 in the Confederation Building), I wanted to know why Mr. Anders’ sign (“Defend Life”) had been singled out for attention and removal. It turns out it was because someone had complained about it. Why? Since other signs remain in windows, it is clear that there have been no complaints about other signs. Thus the complaint has to be not about a sign in a window, but about a sign in a window which was assumed to be a pro-life sign in a window.

Well, I am proud to be pro-life. Being so is not a criminal offence (yet). Expressing my pro-life views is not illegal (yet). What can be more fundamental in the very seat of our democracy than our Charter cherished freedom of expression?

So, I have borrowed Mr. Anders’ innocuous sign and put it in my window in East Block, and there it will stay.

… — Tom Wappel

Why is Wappel free to express his views while Anders was rebuked? The Conservative “hidden agenda” narrative is ready to be resurrected by the media at a moment’s notice. It was a Liberal senate staffer that complained about the sign. What is her opinion of Wappel’s ability to express his opinion on the issue?

Call the Parliament Hill window police

Spotted in Hedy Fry’s 5th floor office window at the Confederation Building on Parliament Hill:

I’m not sure how Fry qualifies as a veteran, but she’s got the sign and she’s showing her support for the presumptive Democratic nominee for President!

Flashback from the Hill Times:

Conservative MP Rob Anders was recently forced to remove a “pro-life” sign from his East Block office window on Parliament Hill after receiving a formal letter of complaint from a Liberal Senate political staffer and after the chief government whip told him to take it down.

The large blue and white “Defend Life” Knights of Columbus sign could clearly be seen for a few weeks before it was removed on July 2 and one day after abortion rights activist Dr. Henry Morgentaler was named to the Order of Canada among 75 for one of Canada’s highest honours.

Amélie Crosson, an assistant to Ottawa Liberal Sen. Jim Munson, sent a formal letter of complaint to Mr. Anders, all MPs, Senators, assistants, party leaders, whips, and party caucus services, on June 27 after she noticed the sign on June 23 while walking to work.

Ms. Crosson told The Hill Times that in her 10 years on the Hill, she could not remember ever seeing a sign in a window before and after she found out whose office it was, she sent a letter of complaint to all MPs.

“All of us who work here are passionate about politics and specific political issues, but if we all start to decorate the exterior of our windows,” she wrote, “in no time, our Parliament Buildings will look like a collection of university frat houses.”

UPDDATE: I’ve received an email from Team Fry. It has been reprinted with permission from it’s author Tim Campbell.

What it’s all about

I have to admit, I’ve been feeling a little blog fatigue lately. It happens every once and a while and especially of late as the theme of this blog (politics) is currently in the off-season. I’ll poke around from place to place from Blogging Tories to Nealenews and I’ll glance at topics which currently fail to motivate me to contribute. Topics such as Liberal corruption, the Governor General and the sponsorship scandal just don’t strike me at the moment and they certainly lack motivational power to get me to write in these dog days of summer.

There is a truth to be learned here. If I’m turned off by blogging now, this likely represents the yearly low point in public political interest.

Consider this piece written by Monte Solberg today,

“Sure politics will always be somewhat about strategy, tactics and spinning your message. The public even expects that. But when spin is at the center of everything you do citizens head for the exits, find the nearest Tim’s, and go nose to nose over hockey, and did you hear what Cherry said.”

Monte notes the nation’s general disaffection with politics. The unfortunate mood is a result of the Liberals over-spinning for the sake of power over issues. The Canadian electorate is spun-out.

However, Monte continues,

Look I love hockey and Don Cherry, but being a hockey fan has to come second to being a citizen. Actually being a citizen is what we are paid to do. Citizens get their pay in the form of freedom and democracy, and our obligation is to keep caring about those things even when the government makes us want to quit caring.

You can of course burn off some of that disaffection by saying sarcastic things on a blog. I hear that helps. An even better thing to do though is to catch a vision.

One of the arches on the Peace Tower quotes a great truism from Proverbs, (quote) Where there is no vision, the people will perish (unquote).

The quote sounded familiar.

I blog about politics because I certainly care about the state of this country. I started Blogging Tories because there are others who certainly do as well. But, I blog, first and foremost, because I want to add to the debate that is so thoroughly discouraged, the discussion that is so often met with disdain, and the dialogue that often is met with attempts to discredit. I blog because those that wish to stifle these elements of our democracy are those that rule for themselves, do so at great expense to the people, and do so without vision.

This year, in June, I traveled to Ottawa to interview Monte to kickoff podcasting on Blogging Tories. After the interview was over, as I wandered around Parliament as any other tourist, I noticed an interesting quote etched into stone above a beautiful window of the peace tower at the centre of this nation’s two houses of Parliament. So, I took a picture.

“Where there is no vision, the people will perish” – Click to enlarge

There is a debate brewing in this country and it is not whether or not Stephen Harper can pass as a cowboy in a small leather vest. This debate occurs between people who recognize a neglected healthcare system and wish to improve it, people that see gun violence in Toronto and are asking for a real solution to address it, and people that wish that politicians would make decisions to benefit Canadians instead of their polling numbers.

We debate because we need change. We debate because those that would discourage it have lost their vision. We debate because we’re Conservatives.

Thank you Monte, I think that you’ve cured my blog fatigue. Now, it’s time to cure Canadians from their Liberal-induced political coma.