Navi Pillay, butt out of Quebec!

Par Beryl Wajsman le 18 juillet 2012

The arrogant, breathtaking audacity of, pardon the expression, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, taking a swipe at Quebec’s Bill 78 as a cause of concern evidences again not only the UN’s never-ending readiness to take any shot at functioning democracies to balance off its cowardice in confronting tyrannies, but also the ignorance of its officials. Even at the highest levels.

navi-pillay.jpgIf Pillay, despite her academic and professional credentials, had bothered to understand Canada’s Charter of Rights, and the issues on the ground in Quebec, maybe she would have come to a different conclusion. But then that may be wishful thinking. When have facts ever changed anything the UN did or said. Former American UN Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan in calling the UN “a dangerous place” also opined that it was a warren where everyone not only felt a right to an opinion but also a right to change the facts.

Pillay claimed in a speech that Bill 78 “impaired” the right to free association and assembly. It of course does no such thing. The Bill merely demands that demonstrators give eight hours notice to authorities of their intent and course of march. It gives no authority the right to refuse a demonstration for any reason.  The Bill actually dovetails with similar requirements in cities like New York, Boston, Toronto, Los Angeles and Washington,DC. Some of those cities require 30-day notices for large demonstrations.

The Bill was necessary because Montreal is one of the few large cities without a permit process. Montreal’s citizens have been the victims of over twenty demonstrations that have shut down the city core for hours; prevented people from getting around; hurt small businesspeople; led to dozens of towers having their elevators in emergency lockdown and cost the city some ten million dollars. The demonstrations have also been characterized by violence, criminal trespass, physical intimidation, destruction of property and the throwing of Molotov cocktails. These demonstrations have less to do with student tuition than with union organizations preparing a prelude to public sector negotiations with the government later this year. It is a state of social insurrection.

Canada’s Charter, like the American Bill of Rights, is part of our Constitution. One of the primary obligation of the state under our Constitution is public order. But the Charter itself compelled Quebec to act. Section 15 of the Charter, commonly called the “Equality Clause” states that all “are equal in front of the law and have equal protection of the law.” How can the victims of the demonstrators have equal protection if there was no  law to protect them? The law gives the basic duty to a government to control the timing, frequency and location of demonstrations. Someone’s right to expression and assembly stops when it prevents others’ rights to peaceful enjoyment of their lives and the ability to make a living. Nothing in the law prevents demonstrators from going on all day and night. Mount-Royal is bigger than Monte Carlo. Plenty of room there. Bill 78 does not constrict rights, it balances them as the Charter demands.

But why should we be surprised at anything anyone from the UN says or does? The UN Human Rights “establishment” is the same one that in the past several years allowed such beacons of liberty as Syria, Libya and Iran on its Human Rights Council. The motto there seems to be “every failed state’s right to be wrong.”

And what of Pillay herself? As Adrien Pouliot has pointed out, did she bother to talk about the Chinese repression of Tibet where a monk recently set himself on fire in protest? He was the thirtieth such suicide since 2009. Did she protest the jailing and torture of a Cuban dissident after he had testified in front of an American Senate Committee? Did she express concern over the 13 year prison sentence meted out to Iranian dissident leader Addolfattah Soltani? No! Her reaction, and that of the UN, has been total silence on China, on Iran, on North Korea on Zimbabwe, and the list goes on. But somehow Pillay found the time for Quebec. 

Pillay is the perfect ethically bankrupt mouthpiece for a morally bankrupt organization.



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Beryl P. Wajsman

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