Vancouver Olympics to feature US-style "free speech zones"

Craig sez, "Looks like Vancouver is getting free speech areas just like the RNC! Yipee! It's so nice of them to set up these areas. I'm sure that even though they're optional, all us polite Canadian folks will be encouraged to full advantage of the designated areas."

Good to see the Olympics upholding its tradition of fostering international brotherhood through brutal authoritarian crackdowns, venal rent-seeking, and remorseless forced relocation of unsightly poor people.

The head of security for the 2010 Games, RCMP assistant commissioner Bud Mercer, told Vancouver city council on Tuesday, however, that protesters will not be required to limit their activities to the areas.

You're free to use them, if you like, but anywhere you participate in lawful protest is legal and lawful in Canada. It doesn't have to be in a free speech area," said Mercer.

2010 Olympic security plans include 'free speech areas' Some homeless to be moved out of security zones (Thanks, Craig!)


  1. “Looks like Vancouver is getting free speech areas just like the RNC!”

    Also the DNC. First Amendment camps are a bipartisan effort, let’s not forget.

  2. So, essentially, Bud Mercer says that there two ‘Free Speech’ zones in Canada: Indoors and Outdoors.

    Why waste money setting up designated zones?

  3. I have to get out of this place before February [year redacted due to copyright restrictions held by the Vancouver Olympic Committee]. Please help. Please [remainder of comment redacted due to violation of All Vancouverites Must Be Happy And Love the Olympics Act]

  4. @2 PaulR

    It sounds like some areas may be freer than others. (Or perhaps this is just to assuage the folks advocating for US-style clampdowns.)

    Sucks to be the homeless guys kicked out so that others can exercise their vaguely defined constitutional rights.

  5. @Church – This is Canada, not the U.S., the only people pushing this nonsense are conservatives.

    Secondly this is beyond shameful for Canada and doubly so for host city Vancouver (where I live).

    Why am I continuing to live in these crappy places?

    Europe just keeps looking better and better …

  6. Sounds more like speaker’s corner than free speech zones. The cool Hyde park speaker’s corner, not the lame CITYTV one for any Canadians in the house.

  7. “Hey buddy! Why don’t you meet me over in the Free Speech Zone so I can tell you what I really think of you!”

  8. So I can protest in both free speech areas, or, I can just go wherever.


    Also, as a side note – Canada technically doesn’t have free speech. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is far more vague than the First Amendment.

  9. As for Canada not having free speech, here’s what the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says:
    Fundamental freedoms
    2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
    (a) freedom of conscience and religion;
    (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
    (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
    (d) freedom of association.

    Unfortunately, there is a little backdoor to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms referred to as the notwithstanding clause, where federal or provincial governments could override the Charter. However, I am only away of this being used once, in Quebec’s language laws to mandate signs be only in French. Basically, it’s a big enough deal to use the notwithstanding clause that any government that tried to use would face a pretty big public backlash.

    I guess you could say that Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms is more vague than the First Amendment, but despite that I wouldn’t say that technically Canada does not have free speech.

  10. @Knurm:
    We do indeed have “freedom of expression”. Section 2 of the Charter reads (in part), “2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:(a) freedom of conscience and religion; […]”.

    There are limits placed on this freedom by some laws, the hate speech laws most notable among these. However, “a law will be found to restrict expression if it has the effect of frustrating ‘the pursuit of truth, participation in the community, or individual self-fulfillment and human flourishing.”

  11. The optional thing is worrying in a typically Canadian way. There are so many things in society that are optional, but people are scorned and looked down upon for not doing them.

    I wonder if the optional part of this will become an excuse for more severe treatment of protestors who are seen by both the police and the legal system to have stepped out of the box that was so nicely prepared for them.

  12. it should be noted that the games in Vancouver have so far:

    – caused the poor, drug addicted and homeless to be targeted by police and set up for round up and forcible transportation out of the eye of the world.

    – caused CCTV cameras to be introduced in the city as a “temporary measure”

    – caused domestic spying and intimidation of citizens by the RCMP and others

    – caused various small business bankruptcies through associated development handled to the benefit of big business

    – furthered local government corruption

    – insured a huge financial deficit and future liability for ordinary citizens

    – encouraged human rights abusers throughout the world by following suit

    – created environmental havoc through associated infrastructure development

    – widened the gap between rich and poor in the area by grossly inflating benefit to the wealthy while saddling the poor with the costs

    – set legal precedents for further erosion of Canadian civil and human rights

    – damaged the medical care and other social programmes of the area by diverting needed funds

    – increased the cynicism of the local population and effectively reduced their political involvement even further

    – marginalized the local Aboriginal population even further while exploiting their culture

    Robot Fucking Carnival all over again.

  13. The BC Civil Liberties Association has been tracking these moves by both VANOC and Olympic security forces for quite some time now. None of it is very promising. From a press release the BCCLA issued yesterday:


    (VANCOUVER) – In the wake of UBC forbidding students from posting signs and posters on
    dorm buildings or in dorm windows “visible from the Thunderbird Winter Sports Centre” and VANOC urging cities to prohibit political leafleting or signs during the Olympic torch run, the BCCLA has come to the troubling conclusion that free speech is not welcome at the Olympics.

    UBC is asking students who wish to live on campus to sign a tenancy agreement which obliges the students not to post “signage or displays that create a false or unauthorized commercial association with the Olympics.”
    —END SNIP—

    There’s also been a lot of concern with VANOC buying up all public advertising space during the Games, new City of Vancouver bylaws allowing city crews to immediately enter properties to remove signs that VANOC does not approve of, Border Services reporting to VANOC if athletes are found with performance enhancing substances as they enter the country, and police visits to the homes of anti-Olympics activists (and their neighbours).

    It’s not going to be fun to be in this city during February.

  14. @Takuan:

    On the other hand, it should also be noted that the people of Vancouver approved the Olympic games by a fair majority (over 60%) in a pre-bid plebiscite. Plus, the major transit and infrastructure improvements are about 20 years overdue, especially on the deathtrap Sea-to-Sky Highway.

    I respect and honour others’ rights to dissent, but the death threats, vandalism, theft, violent “evictions” of city officials, etc. committed by groups like the Anti-Poverty Committee are as good an example of domestic terrorism as you will find in our country. I feel very sorry for the many Canadians whose legitimate concerns have been marginalized these violent crackpots.

  15. @21 Just like to point out that the plebiscite was based on a $650 Million Olympics, not the $4+ Billion that it has blossomed to.

    I think we’re spending more than $650 million on “security” alone.

    The entire thing is a farce and a transfer of money from the public to private sector.

    I respect the individual athletes, but they are pawns in a game way more corrupt than they could ever imagine.

    Balls to the entire thing.

  16. “death threats, vandalism, theft, violent “evictions” of city officials,” yer kidding? Right?

    Then again, considering who you work for, I guess not.

  17. I’ve often thought a Vancouver and British Columbia corruption thread would be well received. There is an unlimited amount of material and it rings familiar with everyone since every type and kind of graft and back-door dealing is represented.

  18. I think other commenters are missing the inherent Canadian-ness of this: we are going to ask the protesters politely if they wouldn’t mind protesting in the designated areas. They will likely comply.


  19. t lst n th S, prtstrs r vlnt, ffnsv, nd gnrlly smlly ppl. Thy r pblc nsnc, nd g t f thr wy t pss vryn rnd thm ff. Nw ‘v gt fw sss wth th scl nrm myslf, nd ndrstnd dsr t cmmnct ns ds nd knwldg n ny sbjct. Hwvr, cnnt bd by th nnsns tht ‘v sn. wrkd nr th lst RNC n NYC, nd t ws shmfl th crp tht “prtstrs” wr nvlvd n.

    “Fr Spch” Zns my s wll qt t, cnfnng jcksss wth n cmprhnsn f scl dcrm prtndng tht thy hv rght t ffnd nd nny vryn tht sn’t fmng t th mth spprtr f whtvr btsht crzy thng thy hppn t b mlcntnt bt.


  20. Gawd. My home is about 3 blocks from a venue for those godawful games. I just know I’m going to be rousted by uniform-addicted goons every time I go for groceries.

    I wish I could leave the city for the duration. It will be a zoo.

  21. Protesters seem to act pretty much the same all over. What gets me is that the anti- Olympics protesters generally seem to have a vague “anti- big… um whatever” mandate instead of anything specific to protest against.

    Except those protesting about how the money could be spent helping the homeless. Too bad they live in a fantasy world where money gets spent on things that can’t generate more of it.

  22. @baldhead: Perhaps your impression that the protesters have only meaninglessly vague concerns is created by a lack of serious media inquiry into the specifics of those concerns. And maybe it’s reinforced by a reluctance on your part to learn anything about their movement that doesn’t confirm your assumptions.

  23. @baldhead: Spending money on helping the homeless can absolutely generate more money, or at least free up public money for other uses. Homeless people tend to be a hugely disproportionate burden on emergency services like police, fire, and especially emergency rooms. To the point that it actually costs more money to keep them from dying while living on the streets than it would to give them a decent SRO with no strings attached (which everyone but the hardest of the hardcore mentally ill would take in an instant).

    The problem is that investment in programs that will end or virtually end homelessness are just that: investments, which will take time to pay off and won’t help anyone’s political career in the meantime.

    You know what helps political careers? The Olympics! Yeah! Local politicians in Olympics host cities remind me of aspiring actors just starting out in Hollywood. They’re suddenly in this environment where everything is so much bigger and more glamorous than they’re used to, and they don’t have clue 1 about how to actually handle it intelligently. They’re easily overwhelmed and manipulated by the corporate interests which are old hands at running the Olympic show no matter where it goes.

    Directing public resources towards helping the homeless become productive, self-sustaining members of society is a worthwhile social optimization, but it’s not in the interest of the people in power. Therefore, we unfortunately have to hassle them about it to get anything meaningful done.

  24. @ZKZK yr pnns n th hmlss ppltns n frst wrld ntns s xtrmly nv. Thr r lrg mjrty f hmlss ppl tht cld nt b lft ln n thr wn stt spnsrd dwllng ln. Thy wld dstry tht nvstmnt nd lkly tlz thr nw fnd fclts t cmmt crm, r frthr rcd nt thr wn dlsnl slf dstryng lfstyls. Th pnt f “strngs ttchd” fclty s t frc mdcl cr dwn thr thrts, nd t nfrc t lst smll nmbr f vry gd rls tht r dsgnd t kp crm t mnmm, nd ngg ths tht rlly d nd psychtrc ttntn.

    1. matt joyce,

      That’s a pretty vile comment. You’ve proven none of your points except your own prejudice. Come up with some statistics. I think you’ll find that homeless people are vastly more likely to be the victims of crimes than the perpetrators.

  25. @NTNS

    thnk y’ll dscvr tht ky cs f cncrn vr hmlss shltrs s n fct crm. Mny hmlss vd th shltrs t vd crm. Whch prtty mch prvs wht w ll knw t b tr…. nly th hmlss mss wth th hmlss.

    Gd knws n n wld tk smthng frm p cvrd crzy prsn whs bst dfns s ( nd m qtng n ctl hmlss prsn n th sbwy ) “bwrfr, y dn’t knw whr ‘v bn mn, r wht hv, f bld n y, y’r dd, f spt, y’r dd…”.


  26. The really fun part is that they actually are optional. People are allowed to protest wherever they want, subject to normal safety/etc. restrictions.

    As far as anyone has been able to determine, these “free speech zones” serve no purpose at all.

    I’ve been reading between the lines of the local news recently, and it looks like they may abandon their promise not to round up the homeless and herd them into tourist-free areas.

    So, if you’re coming to Vancouver for the olympics – make a point of visiting Main and Hastings. Our government could use a bit of shaming over that neighborhood.

  27. matt joyce, you’ve made some wonderful points about where the Canadian Health Care system fails to meet the needs of those most in need of it’s psychiatric care.

    Homeless People. PEOPLE. Think.

    1. matt,

      Your perspective seems completely driven by personal prejudices and ‘how icky those bums are’.

  28. @toottoottoot, post # 21 –

    Your going after the wrong people here.

    Our rights have been eroded so badly that groups are disobedient even when just expressing themselves.

    Look at the previous posts, the idea that UBC forces students to not put up signs against the olympics or that someone could walk onto someone elses property and remove signs they dont like, its all just outrageous!

    If government makes it illegal to have freedom of speech then its time to be a criminal!!!

  29. @ntns

    Prjdc s bsltly th wrng wrd. My dsgst wth th hmlss stms frm my drct xprncs wth thm. Thy d n fct smll vry bd. hv xprncd ths mny tms. nd t b qt hnst, smlly ppl n gnrl rk m.

    nd my ssssmnt f th hmlss s lrgly sffrng mntl llnss s nt nly spprtd by fcts, bt ls my pst ncntrs wth hmlss ppl, nd thr ppls sffrng mntl llnss. My dscssns f th shltr sttns r bsd ff f cnsdrbl rsrch nd prmry src cllctn.

    Tht’s nt t sy ll hmlss ppl r smlly nd nsn. Bt mst hmlss ppl r smlly, nd gnrlly sffrng frm smthng dblttng tht hs ld t thr plght. Cld b drg ddctn, cld b thy wr lmst nblvbly bd wth th fnncs, r gmblng ddctn, r myb thy smply d nt pssss th mntl fclts ncssry t lv n thr wn sccssflly.

    fnd t t b vry sd tht ths ppl r nt crd fr, nd by ll mns spprt ths wh wld rch t t thm nd ffr trly bnfcl cr. Bt ltmtly, thnk th bst sltn s t smply thnz thm.

    Tht’s nt prjdc. Sr y my thnk t’s cld. Hrtlss, crtnly. Dhmnzng? wll dpnds n yr thcl rnttn twrds th rlvnt hmn rghts. Bt ‘m tltrn, nd t m ll tht mttrs s srvng th grtst gd.

    1. matt joyce,

      You’ve judged a whole class of people based on your experiences with a minuscule fraction of them. That’s about as perfect an example of prejudice as I can imagine. Has it occurred to you that there are large numbers of homeless people who have jobs? Who have children? Who live out of cars and cafés because they fell out of the housing cycle due to illness (physical) or losing a job?

      to me all that matters is serving the greatest good.

      I don’t think that you know what ‘good’ means. You’ve got the cold, heartless and dehumanizing down pat, though.

  30. well… i can smell ~something~ noxious around here, but i don’t think it’s the homeless…

  31. Hi, I actually know what I’m talking about when it comes to the law having a law degree and being a member of the bar society. Should Mike Geist or some other noted legal luminary wish to lower themselves to this level and comment I would really enjoy hearing their personal take on this

    I think first and foremost this attempt at stifling free speech and what amounts to an attack on the disenfranchised and mentally ill with respect to moves against homeless people is both utterly offensive but more importantly is not a sure thing and should not be tolerated in the least people need to mobilize.

    With respect to one commentator and their wail against the Canadian Charter. In order for sec1 to come into play there would need to be a holding saying that this attempt to censor and restrict a person’s sec2 rights had both occurred and was reasonably justified.

    That is NOT the case here, and more importantly the admitted intention of the deputy chief to engage in the “relocation” of the homeless a violation of sec 7 is where I am more concerned than with UBC students who’re signing away their rights to display signage.

    The BC Civil Liberties Association has been weighing in on this topic for some time. If you actually care, I suggest rather than raving on here in a futile argument with self hating trolls like Matt Joyce, then you are best to contact them directly and prepare to engage in peaceful direct civil action.

  32. @matt joyce: There’s an interesting phenomenon that affects the way reasonably well-off people perceive the homeless. I don’t think there’s a term for it, but there should be.

    We start off with general preconceptions given to us by our peers, the media, etc. An example is that homeless people are disgusting and insane.

    So, you go off into the world, ride the subway, and when you notice a homeless person who is disgusting and insane, it gets cataloged as supporting evidence.

    Well, what happens when you see a homeless person who isn’t disgusting and insane? You probably can’t even tell they’re homeless. Maybe you could figure it out it you took some time to talk to them, or paid close attention, but it’s not the kind of thing that generally jumps out unless the person is really extreme in some way (i.e. disgusting and insane).

    So the upshot is that you don’t notice the homeless people who don’t fit your preconceptions. And there are a lot of them. See, the other thing about being homeless is that the vast majority of homeless people don’t want to be seen, they don’t want people to know they’re homeless. They go to great lengths to avoid attention and give an appearance of normalcy even though their lives are hell. You might not know about these people, because you never looked for them. They’re kind of like the real-world version of Neverwhere.

    If you were to get involved in some kind of project which brings you into personal contact with a diverse cross-section of homeless people, you’d discover a lot about the reality of homelessness. Some of it is what you expect, a lot of it isn’t. Food Not Bombs is a good opportunity for this, and has chapters in most major North American cities.

  33. Funny how Matt Joyce disses the homeless when he himself lives under a bridge.

    Note for the truly stupid: I am not actually saying MJ is homeless, nor even that he actually lives under a bridge. I am accusing him of being a troll.

    Once someone says the homeless should simply be euthanized, listening to them on any topic ever again is just foolish. Unless they’re under 16, in which case they might grow out of their massive stupidity.

    So Matt: are you under 16? Or should we all ignore you forever?

  34. ctlly,

    t’s mttr f ffcncy. N n wld rg tht w’r hrd strtchd t mt th nds f r crrntly grwng ppltns, vn n Nrth mrc. nd crtnly th qlty f lf mprvs fr ll wh dn’t d. S frm prly nlytcl stndpnt rgrdlss f th spcfcs f wh s lqdtd, thr r dfnt nd prvn gns t b hd frm lrg ppltn rdctn.

    Trgtng ths wh hv fld th tst f cptlsm ls mks grt dgr f sns. Whl n cn rg th fnr pnts f ths, th smpl fct s tht Cptlsm t t’s cr s n mplmnttn mthdlgy fr mrtcrcy. vry dfnt frm f scl Drwnsm f y wll. Ths fndng thmslvs t th bttm f ths scl hv n ffct fld th tst f mrt nsd f r cvlztn. Nw thr r bvs xcptns t ths rl, bt ffctvly gnrng th sb strs f ths fw, nd rlyng n r blf n cptlsm wld sm th mst prdnt crs f ctn.

    dn’t blv thr s n rgmnt bng md tht th hmlss r hppy n thr plght. nd tht rlly wld b th nly rgmnt lft gnst thns hr.

    S, t ths f y wh cst dbt thrgh strw mn rgmnts, d hmnm ttcks, nd frtlss ttmpts t nv bbls sy t y smply ths. ‘v prpsd vry dfnt sltn t svrl f r ky prblms n scty. Y hv nt. Hmn ntr wll nt chng n ny qck fshn, nd th rslts w rqr fr xcd wht trndng dt hs pntd t s lkly shft n th stts qt. thr sbmt bttr mthd, r cntn t nlyz th sttn. Dn’t rs bnnr f fr nd ncrtnty bcs y hv dbts. Chs drctn, nd rn wth t ntl y ht wll. Try try nd try gn ntl smthng wrks. Bt crtnly dn’t flt thrs fr prpsng vbl sltns t rl prblms smply bcs y hv sbjctv cncrns.

    Wh s th chld hr?

    1. Actually, It’s a matter of efficiency…So from a purely analytical standpoint regardless of the specifics of who is liquidated, there are definite and proven gains to be had from a large population reduction.

      Sorry. My vote is to get rid of people who don’t have empathy. That’s obviously a sign that they’re somewhat less than human, right? Right?

  35. @matt

    “I worked near the last RNC in NYC, and it was shameful the crap that “protesters” were involved in.”

    it’s worth noting that many of the more extreme protesters were in fact undercover provocateurs, dispatched to incite riot as a pretense for mass arrests.

    the real protesters did a pretty good job of NOT succumbing to their ruse and at times called them out for being agents of the government.

  36. @#48 matt

    alright, you’ve now crossed over from ignorant lunacy to psychotic megalomania.

    “Human nature will not change in any quick fashion”

    a fact which you’ve made painfully clear here.

    “Who is the child here?”

    the one talking about humans as if they were diseases or weeds.

  37. NTBSTRD, Lf s lf. PT wld rg tht wd, r dss s n lss f lf thn hmns. nd crtnly ll lf cmmnds r rspct nd dmrtn.

    Bt, dpndng n yr schl f thght, t s ls cmmnly hld blf nd bsc tnnt fr th xstnc f cvlztn tht w r th grdns f r spcs, nd th lnd w ccpy.

    n ccptng th mntl f tht rspnsblty w ls ccpt th ncssty t ddrss prblms wth ffccy. ‘d sy yr dvtn frm ths nrm vry clrly mts th dfntn f psychtc, nd tss yr d hmnm rght bck, wth lgcl rgmnt t spd t n ts wy.

  38. nice ad hominem.

    No, I actually meant literally that there must be a fault in Canadian Health Care that so many insane homeless people were there, and your evidence of such was compelling. I think most of the ‘homeless’ ‘criminals’ you are so overwhelmed by would make different choices with better public health support.

    Why would you think that was an ad hominem?

    projection much?

  39. @#51 Matt

    You’re arguing for euthanasia of homeless people. With a straight face.

    I don’t deny that my response to your inhumane vitriol was ad hominim – I’ve dealt with enough people to know when making a rational argument is an exercise in futility. So forgive me if I don’t take the time to even gloss over why euthanizing the homeless is not only a horrible idea from a humanitarian standpoint, let alone a completely impractical ‘solution’ to the problem of homelessness. A million pardons for not explaining why failing to succeed in a capitalist society does not negate the value of ones existence. A thousand sorries for failing to provide empirical evidence to refute the veracity of your plan. I don’t argue with trolls; one cannot, by definition, argue with a troll. We COULD bicker, but that’s more in your interest (devolving a rational discussion into a flame war to stroke your ego) than mine (maintaining civility within a rational discussion).

  40. In accepting the mantel of that responsibility we also accept the necessity to address problems with efficacy.

    sounds better in the original German.

    that’s an ad hominem and a Gowin, by my school of thought.

    Also, Matt, learn to spell.

  41. And see, I know “genocide troll” shouldn’t sound so funny, but when you say it, it so is.

  42. OK, here goes: The RCMP is moribund. The top rats know it and the cannon-fodder doesn’t matter. The high level scandals coupled with the bottom level knuckle dragging abuses have accumulated to the point of unsustainability, even with a torpid electorate. What to do? A la Madonna, reinvent yourself!

    How? A major incident. Like an Olympic security “event”. Let the old shell go down in flames and already have a parallel organization set up (say with an independent computer system). Include some spectacular civil rights abuses and let the sheeple beat the carcass of an already written-off hulk. Get the local authority to cooperate by messing up up some embarrassing prosecution and you’re half-way there.

    Wonder what they’ll call themselves?

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