Draw Muhammed Day event denied: interview

Today, Vlad Tepes interviewed me regarding my failed attempt to hold an International Draw Muhammed Day event in Ottawa, on the Parliament Hill, yesterday.

I hope this clarifies any outstanding questions as to why I though I had a permit to hold the event, when, at the last minute, it had been denied.

Also thanks to Vlad Tepes, here are some audioclips from CFRA, Ottawa’s talk show station, on the topic.

First audioclip is from Tuesday night’s Late Night Counsell on 19th of May

And here, Vlad was kind enough to put up commentary and comments from CFRA’s Lowell Green show on May 20th:

So, what exactly happened with that ‘Draw Muhammed Day 2015′ event yesterday…

I had hoped to hold a Draw Muhammed day event in Canada’s capital, Ottawa – on the grounds of Parliament Hill – yesterday, May 20th,  the International Draw Muhammed Day.
I must admit that through this whole process, I have proven myself to be rather naive, since I thought that ‘following the rules’ was the best way to approach this issue…
As per instructions, I applied for the appropriate permit and was told (via phone) that all was in order and only the security issue needed to be addressed before the permit would be granted.
Understandable.
So, I worked with the Protective Policing detail of the RCMP, the people in charge of the security of The Hill, to move the time and specific location of the event in order to make it as easy for them as possible to ensure the safety not only of this event, but also of every other visitor to The Hill.
In order to ensure this could not possibly be interpreted as an attack on one religious minority and their beliefs, I ensured that this event would be critical of all religious persecution of freedom of speech:  since the Pope claimed violence would be a justified response to an insult to his mother, I invited people to draw the Pope’s mother; since people are in jail for having used an image of Buddha with headphones, I invited people to draw an image of Buddha with headphones.
And, to demonstrate that the prohibition against depicting the likeness of the Islamic Prophet Muhammed is by no means as universal as some loud voices today would have us believe, I planned to display historical Islamic depictions of Muhammed.
In addition, I invited people to draw any other religious/political figure they want – this was a freedom of speech event at the occasion of the International Draw Muhammed Day, nothing less or more.
After both an email and phone exchange with various members of this team, I had met with them – in a local coffee shop, none the less, and was told that thanks to my eager cooperation, all of their security concerns had been addressed and the permit would be issued within hours.
Naively, I believed what I was told, and started to let people know about the event.
Being just one individual and not a member of any organization or political party, I simply posted the info on my blog and sent emails to my friends, who sent emails to their friends, and so on….a word of mouth thing, as I have no budget for ads and such.  RISE Canada even took it upon themselves to put up a Facebook page for the event, as I had not even the skills for that.
I waited for the promised paperwork, and waited, and waited.  As of Tuesday afternoon, I was assured it was coming.
Then, at 5:25pm on the 19th of May, I received a phone call informing me that the permit for the event was denied.
Frankly, I was surprised and at a loss for words – I did all I was told and was assured that all ‘security concerns’ were fine – yet, it was precisely ‘security concerns’ that were cited as the reason fro the denial.
No appeal was possible.
No explanation for what these ‘security concerns’ were was going to be provided.
I contacted the RCMP protective detail assigned to me for the event and let them know….and while I realize I don’t understand internal politics, it seemed to me that they were not the ones with ‘security concerns’.
So, I updated the info on my blog, re-sent emails and let everyone know that indeed, in Canada, our constitutionally guaranteed ‘freedom of speech’  only extends to bureaucratically permitted speech…
Anyhow, everybody respected the prohibition against the event – only some reporters and numerous security forces were reported to have shown up….
I have been asked by many people to please re-schedule the event for another time and that is indeed what I will do.
Yet, I am left with the logistics question of how to go about it, since the official permit will, no doubt, be just as likely denied as the first time….and begging for a permit to exercise freedom of speech seems very silly, if not downright oxymoronic…
Anyhow, that is the stage in which things find themselves now.
Thoughts?

Eric Brazeau’s motion to appeal: 17th of April, 2015

For the story of how I came to Toronto for this hearing, please see here.

For the anticipation of the trial before the courtroom opened, please see here.

For the very important (with immigration implications) cases heard before Eric’s came up, please see here.

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, here is the ‘meat’ of the story:

It turns out that even though Mr. Brazeau was listed as ‘self represented’, his former counsel, a certain Misha, was there to speak on his behalf.

Let’s get this clear:  I have never seen this Misha before, nor had an contact with him, but, I don’t like him.  I don’t know why – call it a gut reaction, based on seeing him in court and briefly meeting him in person afterwards:  he might be a competent lawyer for all I know, but that ‘like’ button for me was just not clicked.  My subconscious mind put him squarely in with ‘the silly bunnies’…

Yet, it seems that when in court, he had ‘collaborated’ with the Crown and both had their ducks lined up in the same row:  Eric Brazeau is to be released on bail with the guarantee of two citizens in good standing willing to vouch for him and let him live with them.

Yes, yes, yes.

It was, somehow, anticlimactic…

But, until the actual appeal date (the day and month of which I did not catch, but I think it’ll be some time in June or July of this year..but when I do know, I will let you, my dear readers, know), Mr. Brazeau is out on bail!!!

No money to be paid, but he had to agree to certain conditions:  including staying off of public transit.

It turned out that the two guarantors into whose custody Eric had been released were siting in the courtroom, directly behind me.  Also in the courtroom was Miro, of BlogWrath, and his pretty wife Toshiko. Also there was Eric’s friend Ron.

It was a great pleasure for me to make their acquaintance!

So, there we were, waiting for the paperwork to be done.

For, before he could walk out, Eric and his guarantors had to sign tons of paperwork – in front of a justice of peace.  And the justice of peace had to clear all the cases before Eric’s first.

So, in the hallway of justice, we sat and waited…and chatted.  At this point, my friend Robert, who has been trying to raise the funds for Eric’s new lawyer fro BC to come to Toronto and represent him at the actual appeal, joined us.

And we waited..

…and we waited…

And, finally Eric came out!

Oh, what a glorious moment!!!

We met him with a standing applause and our arms outstretched for hugs!

A small victory in the grand scheme of things, perhaps, but a definite step in the right direction!!!

Long live Freedom!

Long live Eric!!!

Waiting for Eric Brazeau’s appeal hearing: 17th of April, 2015

This is a mood-setting background description – for the actual event itself, please, see here.

Finally, the day is here: Eric Brazeau will have his appeal motion hearing today!

What’s more: I am going to get to watch history be made!!!

For a wordy account of my journey here and the impressions of the courthouse, please, see here (written in the in-between time from when my bus arrived downtown Toronto to when I got to enter the courthouse, so it sets the atmosphere outside and is indulgently loquacious).

In the hour-and-a-half while I was outside in the foggy Toronto dawn (the direct sun rays never reached street level), I managed to get….sunburned. Now, my face is pink and turning redder and itchier by the minute! But, I digress!

It took me a while to find the proper place to go: that is the cost of showing up at the courthouse before the daily schedule does. Helpful people try to give you the best advice they can, but they just might send you to another building a block away and it just might take you an hour to get back to where you were in the beginning.

But, this time, the schedule was posted and I had no trouble going up the escalator and down the long corridor and around the corner, all the way to courtroom 2-6, where Eric’s case is scheduled to be heard at 10am.

There are no chairs just outside courtroom 2-6, so, at 9:15am, I am sitting around the corner, in front of 2-4, hoping that I’ll see other people who come here to support Eric and/or report on this incredibly important lawsuit and typing all this in, so that I may report to you, my dear readers, my freshest impressions of this day.

The Toronto courthouse is extremely different from the Ottawa one. First of all, the security is much, much tighter.

Of course, after the October terrorist attack in Ottawa, the security in the Ottawa courthouse also increased: main entrance only, checking bags etc. But, as of March, metal detectors and such were only used in select cases, placed in front of select courtrooms. Here, we are talking full TSA workup, with dire warnings that if they find even the tiniest pen-knife, you will be arrested and thrown in jail, never to see the light of day again, as will your children, and your children’s children and… OK, I may be paraphrasing a bit, but that is the general gist of the warning. I was a bit afraid they might confiscate my Redbull, as getting wings might seem dangerous, but I got lucky!

And while the security people checking bags and people coming in were friendly enough, in an officious kind of way (asking cheerfully if I’m showing up for jury duty), the security guard nearby the desk that lists the daily roster would do an about face and march in a different direction if a person even threatened to try to catch his eye.

The Ottawa guys are different: they go out of their way to be helpful, thinking of ways to search for your case (and, yes, at times, it almost seems like the way the cases are listed is meant to confuse and discourage). Let’s hope the Ottawa guys keep their friendly demeanour.

While waiting for 10 o’clock to arrive, I stuck up a conversation with a nice lady sitting next to me.  As we were chatted amiably, I explained why I was there and why Eric’s case was such an important one.

She took a great interest in it.  At the time, she heard something about some stuff happening on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission), but from the mainstream newspapers, she did not understand what it was all about.  When she learned that Eric was still in jail, just because he said out loud that he did not like a specific religion, she was very angry on his behalf!

She confided that once, not that long ago, she was taken aback by a fundie (that is short for Christian fundamentalist) co-worker who had expressed a rather homophobic belief.  She did not like it, and explained to he co-worker that she did not like it, but she thought that it would have been wrong to stop the co-worker from saying out loud what she truly believes, even if it was stupid!

And I fully agreed with her!

The best response to bad speech is more good speech.

Yes, she agreed, because of the danger of driving bad speech underground, where it would gain power precisely because it was persecuted!!!

I was so happy to hear that she gets it!  She really, really gets it!

Perhaps there is still hope for our citizens!

It was on this note of high expectations that I am packing up and getting ready to enter the courtroom.

Thomas Sowell – Public Transit and Price Distortions

Could There be a Worse Time for a “Don’t Film Cops” Bill? (Nanny of the Month, March ‘15)

 

So, we are now punishing thought crimes?

This is not the right way to go about this.

The prosecution admits this man broke no law – yet he is subject to an incredible loss of freedom.

This is wrong, no matter how you try to present this.

Pre-crime is not a crime:  by definition, it has not happened.  People must not be stripped of their liberties simply because they ‘might’ commit a crime.  Government does not have that right and we must let them know that we will not tolerate this type of an over-reach.

Yes, terrorism is a problem.  But this is not the solution.

 

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