Protesters Evict Justice Minister

Tony Tracy tony at tao.ca
Thu Dec 13 01:46:17 MST 2001


As a further follow-up to the previously reported arrests of anti-war
/ anti-racist / pro-civil-liberties activists after a successful
four-day occupation of Edmonton constituency offices of Canadian
federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan on Monday: yesterday morning,
the Parliamentary Assistant to Justice Minister McLellan, Canadian
Member of Parliament (MP) Stephen Owen, had his Vancouver
consitutency offices occupied.

I just returned from a visit at the occupation, at which I spoke with
the remaining protesters who will be staying overnight in the office,
and wrote the enclosed short report...

Solidarity,

Tony Tracy

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Protesters opposed to Bill C-36 continue overnight occupation

The occupation of federal Liberal MP Stephen Owen's constituency
office in the Quadra riding of Vancouver (located at 5315 West
Boulevard near the corner of 37th... for those not familiar with
Kerisdale, Arbutus becomes West Boulevard at 33rd as it travels
south, throughout the area of the "creme de la creme") continues,
with occupiers remaining spirited and committed as of 11:30pm
Wednesday evening.

The occupation, which began at 10:00am on Wednesday morning and was
organized by the "Teddy Bear Brigade" (composed of a diverse group of
concerned folks) has been organized in response to Chretien's Liberal
government's Bill C-36 - the suppossed "anti-terrorist" legislation
which has the ability to severely curtail civil rights.

MP Stephen Owens holds the position of Parliamentary Assistant to
Justice Minister Anne McLennan and is noted as a key architect of the
bill. McLennan's Edmonton constituency office was occupied this past
weekend (from Friday through to Monday) by Edmonton residents who
were also opposed to Bill C-36. The Edmonton occupation ended on
Monday, on it's fourth day, in the arrest of 13 occupiers (see
http://alberta.indymedia.org for coverage of the Edmonton
occupation). The Vancouver protesters have listed as one of their key
demands the dropping of all charges of trespass against the
protestors arrested in Anne McClellan's office in Edmonton on Monday.

Bill C-36 has passed through Parliament with little debate and is now
before the Senate. In concert with pending Bills C-35 and C-42 it
represent the most sweeping assualt on civil rights and liberty in
Canadian history. If given Royal
Assent these bills could be used to label peaceful protestors as
terrorists and further criminalize dissent in this country.

With some nine occupiers remaining in the office, left with one
security guard to watch over them (who himself has been friendly
enough with the occupiers), those remaining in the office overnight
are pleased that they have won one of their key demands: for MP
Stephen Owen to apear at a public forum and stand accountable for the
decision of his government to pass Bill C-36. Owens has agreed to
attend a public forum this Saturday, Dec. 15th, beginning at 10:00am
at a venue still to be determined.

The occupiers are further demanding that the Senate and Governor
General block passage of C-36 and companion legislation (C-35, C-42)
until there can be a full public consultation process involving
discussion about the implications of these pieces of legislation on
civil liberties and minority rights.

The occupiers had originally been asked to leave the constituency
office by 5:00pm in a written letter from MP Stephen Owen (in which
Owen thanks the protesters for having shown respect to his
colleagues/staff who run the constituency office throughout the
process of the occupation, and in which he indicates that he will be
arriving in Vancouver on Friday night and would be prepared to meet
with the protesters on Saturday morning). Later they had been told
that the office would be fully bolt-locked so that they would have no
ability to exit or enter throughout the night and no access to the
washroom facilities. However, after some negotiation and the
placement of a (thus far friendly) security guard in the office to
"watch over" the occupiers, they have had the ability to enter and
exit at will, and other people concerned about Bill C-36 are
encouraged to visit the occupation overnight or in the morning at the
5315 West Boulevard Liberal constituency office.

Working TV in Vancouver has put a small video clip and a few photos
on its' website at http://www.workingtv.com/teddybearoccupation.html

The protesters can be reached through their on-site spokesperson,
Deacon Dave Havard, at (604) 838-8461.
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