While the Charter protects many of the rights that are crucial to effective protest, laws limit this right in very real ways.
- Protesters have been arrested for breaching the peace and unlawful assembly.
- Provincial legislation may restrict blockades on public roadways and assemblies on certain pieces of public property.
- Municipal by-laws often limit how, when, and where, protests can be held.
If we allow too many restrictions on the fundamental right to protest, we silence the voices of many in our society, particularly those who may have limited other means for making their views known.
It’s worth remembering that protests are intended to cause disruption and this is protected activity in a democracy. Strong protections for the right to protest are essential to meaningful and informed political debate and discussion.
A democratic society welcomes debate and disagreement on the key issues of the day, and protest is a big part of this process.
Protests can be messy and disruptive, but they are also crucial to our well-being as a society.
We only have the right to vote every few years, but protests provide opportunities to express our views and grievances at any time.