For Immediate Release: April 20, 2011
COPE Councillors Vote Against Restrictive Protest By-Law
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) City Councillors Ellen Woodsworth and David Cadman voted against the final protest by-law late Tuesday night, voicing strong objections to the many flaws still present in the proposal. Despite their votes, council still passed the bylaw, one that COPE believes will severely impact civil liberties, freedom of speech, and the homeless in public areas.
“We had expert wording that would have explicitly protected homeless people who have no choice but to sleep on our streets,” said Woodsworth who along with Councillor Cadman lead the opposition to the first iteration of this bylaw. “But it was ignored, along with many other serious and glaring problems with this bylaw.” Woodsworth noted that PIVOT Legal Society, the BC Civil Liberties Association, and the Vancouver Public Space Network all joined in voicing their opposition.
Councillor Cadman said this bylaw would simply cost the city more money in legal bills. “This bylaw as written stands a very good chance of getting it fought out in the courts at great cost to Vancouver taxpayers.” Cadman said that this could have been avoided had council requested more time to discuss the bylaw. “We had only a handful of days to study and pass something so incredibly important. Are our democratic rights not worth requesting some more time from the courts?”
Woodsworth also pointed to the minimum penalties of $1000 for breaching the bylaw and called it unnecessarily punitive. “I’m very disappointed tonight, democracy and free speech have taken a big hit in Vancouver.”