Freedom of Expression - Statement on Bylaw Fines for Palestine Solidarity Demonstrators

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

As we head into the 13th weekend of protest since the start of the mounting hostilities in Israel and Gaza including another protest this weekend and continue to march and protest against government inaction, Horizon Ottawa stands against the City of Ottawa’s Bylaw fines on protesters using speakers or megaphones.  

Starting December 23rd, 2023, City of Ottawa Bylaw agents have been imposing fines of $490 on participants using speakers or megaphone at protests. This added hurdle impedes on constituents' freedom of expression and thus infringes upon our Charter right to freedom of expression. As an organization that has led and engaged in many protests and rallies in the past about local issues, this is very concerning. These moves from bylaw set a dangerous precedent and have a direct impact on democratic, union, and civil rights for anyone who protests in Ottawa, irrespective of their community or political affiliation.

The Horizon Ottawa Board continues to call for more active leadership from our local representatives and will continue to join the on-going demonstrations of solidarity. This active leadership means using their influence as local elected officials to enable protesters to continue exercising their right to freedom of expression and use megaphones and speakers peacefully without threat of fines or other further penalty by bylaw or police. 

We also continue to encourage residents across the City of Ottawa to call, email and contact their city councilors and the mayor to encourage them to echo the positions taken by other cities in calling for measures like an immediate and permanent ceasefire, release of all hostages and unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid to limit civilian death and leading to a peaceful end to the ongoing violence in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank.

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