Small but determined number of protesters make noise on environmental issues

Peaceful Assembly

On 14th December 2017, protesters calling themselves the "Justin Trudeau Brigade" blocked access to Kinder Morgan work site in Burnaby to show their concerns over a pipeline expansion project. About a dozen people held signs, sang protest songs and prevented at least two vehicles from entering the pipeline company's Westridge Marine Terminal. The demonstrators claim the pipeline expansion project threatens marine habitats and poses safety risks to nearby residents. Two weeks earlier, about 150 people protested the appearance of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in Vancouver to promote the Kinder Morgan pipeline project. They chanted "Notely go home", while she spoke about the pipeline's potential economic benefits.

Concerned about potential oil spills, about 30 people protested at the entrance of an Enbridge work site in Hamilton, Ontario on 13th December. The protesters said they wanted to prevent pipeline employees from being able to access the work site.

On 25th November, at least 40 people were arrested during a rival demonstration by right-wing groups and counter protesters in Quebec City. The arrests came after several hundred members of Storm Alliance, Atalante Québec and La Meute gathered to march through downtown Quebec. According to police, “Weapons were found: telescopic sticks, slingshots, bottles containing a liquid that is for the moment unknown..." There were no reported injuries during the protest. 

On 22nd November, about 200 people demonstrated in Toronto to protest the lack of affordable housing. The protesters held a sign saying, “Stop the hypocrisy, build social housing now"; they also blocked traffic and marched to the Finance Minister's office.

On 11th December, about 175 people protested outside of Premier Brian Gallant's office in New Brunswick to draw attention to changes in the local health care system. Many of the protesters were healthcare workers upset over the province’s plans to transfer the management of extramural home care services to Medavie Health Services.

On 3rd December, politicians from different parties marched with hundreds of people in a show of solidarity with the Davie shipyard near Quebec City. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Martine Ouellet, the head of the local opposition party, attended the march as part of an effort to make the federal government award more public contracts to the local shipyard.

Dozens of Iranian-Canadians rallied in two cities to show support for protests in Iran. In Vancouver, people gathered on 1st January for a rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Vancouver is home to about 35,000 Iranian-Canadians. In Toronto, people held signs and chanted near Mel Lastman Square.

On 5th December, a Canadian court ordered protesters in a Vancouver neighbourhood to stop interfering with efforts to build temporary housing for the homeless. About 200 people had been protesting against the shelters being built near a school in Marpole, a neighborhood in southern Vancouver. The order issued by a British Columbia supreme court judge prohibits anyone from loitering on nearby streets to block access to the site.

Dozens of union members held a rally in Vancouver on 16th December in protest over legislation that they say will deny Canadians jobs and impact Canadians trying to enter the U.S. The recently adopted Preclearance Act (C-23) will expand the powers of U.S. customs officers doing pre-clearance screening at Canadian airports and other departure points. Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and other workers claim it gives U.S. Homeland Security too much power over Canadian workers’ jobs. "This bill has taken that power and given it to the agents of a foreign state, not accountable to us as citizens, not accountable to our own government," says Josh Paterson of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. Canadians going through U.S. Customs will also now be subjected to more screening procedures and requirements, too. Protesters hope lawmakers will address their concerns during the bill's regulatory phase.

On 10th December, about 60 people gathered in downtown Winnipeg to protest President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy in Israel there. “We are protesting President Trump’s position; we’re against his policy on Jerusalem, declaring it the capital of Israel,” said Rana Abdulla, one of the organisers of the protest. Other groups, including Independent Jewish Voices-Winnipeg and Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, also participated in the protest, handing out fliers and chanting anti-Trump slogans.

Expression

On 11th December, the Toronto Public Library Board voted unanimously to ban so-called hate groups from reserving public meeting spaces in the city's libraries. Library staff are now permitted to deny any group they believe as “likely to promote, or would have the effect of promoting discrimination, contempt or hatred of any group, hatred for any person”. All groups are, however, allowed to rent or use private spaces. The move followed a controversial memorial service held last July at the Richview Library for a lawyer whose clients included neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

On 8th December, the Canadian Supreme Court issued two decisions dealing with privacy and text messages. At issue in both cases was whether there is reasonable expectation of privacy in text messages, even after they have been sent and received. In a 5-2 ruling, the Court set aside the convictions against Nour Marakah (R v Marakah), whose messages were found by Toronto police on the cellphone of an alleged accomplice in an illegal firearms trafficking case. The court found Marakah had a reasonable expectation of privacy concerning the messages and could challenge the police search of the phone as a violation of his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In R v Jones, the Court ruled that the defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the text messages stored by a commercial internet service provider that had been seized by the police. However, because the internet service provider's data was obtained legally, the court found the defendant's rights had not been violated. Justice Malcolm Rowe said the Marakah decision recognises that “the broad and general right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure… is meant to keep pace with technological development".

A Toronto anti-abortion group filed a lawsuit saying the government is violating its rights by requiring it to endorse reproductive rights in order to access grant money. The case revolves around funding applications for the Canada Summer Jobs program, which provides grants to hire students. In the application guide, organisations seeking funding must check a box affirming that they respect the values underlying the Charter, including women’s reproductive rights. The Toronto Right to Life Association says this requirement goes too far. “We believe we shouldn’t be treated unequally because we hold different beliefs from the government on a social issue,” said a Toronto Right to Life Board member.