by Clive Ansley, Legal Counsel for Falun Gong
Like many others who have been shocked by the City’s consultations with the Chinese Communist Party representatives in Canada, in the process of drawing up a new bylaw for the regulation of free expression on Vancouver streets, we were initially encouraged to see that the second draft of that bylaw, purports to allow protest structured in front of the Chinese Consulate. However, closer scrutiny of the new draft makes clear that this “concession” is simply a ruse designed to facilitate the greatest possible protection for the Chinese Consulate-General. Apparently the “consultation” with the Chinese Communist Party continues.
The City clearly had no choice but to eliminate the blanket protection of the Consulate-General when it was faced with the fact that consulates carrying on business in residential areas are themselves non-compliant with residential zoning, and cannot be immunized from the free expression of Canadians. But the “consultations” with the Chinese Communist Party “stakeholders” have culminated in several new restrictions which would effectively make it impossible for the Canadian protesters to continue their protest vigil against the Beijing regime and would in any event render it almost invisible.
Whether “consultations” with Beijing’s representatives are still in progress or not, the fact is that the Vancouver City Council, at every stage since launching its petition against the Falun Gong protest, right up to the present moment, has spared no effort to safeguard the interests of the Consulate-General, and to frustrate the free expression of the Canadians maintaining the protest outside the Consulate-General.
The first new draft bylaw stipulated maximum dimensions for structures permitted on City streets, justifying those maximum dimensions on the basis of safety considerations and concerns with large structures interfering with private businesses. But there were to be no structures whatever before the Consulate-General, so at that point, size really didn’t matter. But when forced to allow structures before the Consulate-General, the previous dimensions, arrived at for reasons of safety, suddenly had to be cut. The cubic space of any allowed structure now must be less than half the previously approved space. Safety risks have not changed. Nothing whatever has changed except for the fact that structures will now be placed before the Consulate-General, and that the new height limitation will prohibit any “Hut”, unless it is occupied by a pre-school child.
Moreover, the new draft still leaves in place the provisions which effectively say that Canadians have freedom of political expression, but only between the hours of 0800 and 2000. There is no right to free political expression during the night. There is freedom of political expression for thirty days at any one time, but in the words of some City spokespersons, there needs to be a “reprieve” of thirty days between each thirty day period of free discussion. These are new and novel charter arguments, not yet argued in Canadian courts.
In short the City still seeks to impose punitive, grossly restrictive, arbitrary, and totally illogical constraints designed for no purpose but to assure the Consulate-General that any attempted protest in its area will be completely ineffective.
We have heard hollow rationalizations from the City to the effect that requiring the structures to be taken down each night and put up again in the morning will somehow achieve a “balance” between the Falun Gong right to free expression on the one hand, and “something or other else” on the other hand. There is clearly no other interest to balance against free expression in this context.
Finally, we think it essential to append a brief note on the moral context in which this entire struggle is set. We recognize that it is difficult for governments at any level to to take positions on the validity of any particular cause which has provoked protest. Nevertheless, the magnitude and scale of the Crimes Against Humanity which are at the base of the Falun Gong protest must be weighed against the competing urgencies of structural encroachments on City Streets, in order to restore some perspective to this debate.
The Genocide against Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party is arguably the most appalling Crime Against Humanity since the Holocaust. Some Jewish leaders compare it to the Holocaust. We estimate that approximately 100,000 Falun Gong practitioners in China have been murdered on the operating tables in China for the express purpose of harvesting their organs for sale on an international market. Occasionally commentators will question whether this is really happening.
1. It has been confirmed by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture, who also states that two thirds of all prisoners in China’s slave labour camps are Falun Gong practitioners; and
2. It has been confirmed be an Israeli Ecclesiastical Court which held extended hearings on the subject; and
3. It has been well documented in the book Bloody Harvest, by David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, and David Matas, one of Canada’s foremost Human Rights lawyers. The credibility of both is beyond question; and
4. Both the judgement in the Supreme Court of British Columbia and that in the BC Court of Appeal acknowledged that these crimes of the Beijing regime were well documented.