Aug 11 2009
There’s no doubt the Olympics in Vancouver will impose fewer curtailments on freedom than the last one in Beijing, but that may not be saying much.
A great zinger from BC Civil Liberties Association executive director David Eby on free speech concerns in the run up to the 2010 Olympics (Vancouver Sun):
Rule 51 of the IOC Olympic Charter prohibits any “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” Not exactly the stuff of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but then again, nobody elected the IOC to protect democracy.
Vancouver has to abide by Olympic rules, so Vancouver Sun’s Daphne Bramham reports “Vancouver’s council recently passed an omnibus bylaw amending dozens of existing laws. Among the changes are the creation of so-called free-speech zones and blocks of the city… where no political pamphlets, leaflets, graffiti or “non-celebratory posters” will be allowed”. They mayor still insists that the whole city is a free speech zone, but at the very least, citizens are confused by the disconnect.
In an Olympic-style comparison of civil liberties violations, with gold representing something like, say, raping and torturing incarcerated protesters, thought-policing signage rules and police security screens might not get you to the top of the podium. But this is the kind of competition where you really don’t want to even be the runner-up.