Media reports, as well as insider reports, indicate that Calgary may be the first city in Canada to take action against Occupy protesters.
Please read our letter to city officials and consider signing our petition.
We, the undersigned, are a group of concerned citizens who are asking City of Calgary officials to show continued respect for the rights guaranteed to the Occupy Calgary participants under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Occupy Calgary is an exercise in participatory democracy and is consistent with the ideals we hold dear as Canadians.
The gap between the rich and poor has been steadily increasing in Canada. The top 20% of families held 75% of total household wealth in 2005, compared to 73% in 1999 and 69% in 1984. The gap between the rich and poor is greater in Alberta than in any other province in Canada.
Given that resource allocation is a fundamental part of politics, it is not surprising that citizens wish to come together to discuss economic inequality, the efficacy of our current political system and other relevant matters.
The Calgary occupants have been peaceful and have engaged the community in education and dialogue. The movement has gained significant support in the community. Short of abandoning their cause, the protesters have demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with the city and other community members. Most recently, the protesters moved tents to accommodate a celebration at the plaza.
We support citizens’ rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. The law is clear that this federal legislation over-rides any local bylaws governing the Olympic Plaza.
We are concerned by recent media reports in which city officials have made inaccurate and inflammatory comments. For instance, the deputy chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency referred to protesters as “squatters,” misleading the public about the nature of the gathering and implying that the protesters are engaging in illegal activity. Similarly, Alderman Diane Colley-Urquhart has openly expressed her lack of respect for federal law and has even suggested the police should charge and remove protesters. We ask that city officials be held responsible for misleading the public and undermining the efforts of those complying with federal law. The onus does not rest solely on the protesters to contribute to a peaceful environment; city officials must not incite hostility by misleading the public about the legal context.
We, the undersigned, strongly urge the Mayor of Calgary, our aldermen and other city officials to show continued respect for the Charter Rights protecting this protest.