At 12:01am on Wednesday, March 14, Ottawa-based activist and progressive blogger, Obert Madondo, started an indefinite hunger strike to protest PM Stephen Harper's new cruel, the deceptively christened "Safe Streets and Communities Act", formerly omnibus crime Bill C-10.
The ideology-driven law violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, particularly: the right to equal protection before the law; the right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment; the right to liberty; and the rights of Canadians convicted overseas.
Changes to the youth justice system will victimize and punish our youth: Young offenders will now get stiffer sentences that potentially turn them into hardened criminals, instead of rehabilitating and reintegrating them into society.
The draconian law will punish the weak and marginalized. The majority of those who will face tougher sentences, extended periods in custody before trial and extended ineligibility for parole are those with mental health issues, blacks and Aboriginals, who are already oversubscribed in the jail population.
The law's mandatory minimum sentence requirements will weaken and undermine the Canadian judiciary. The law will divide society. It will cost Canadian taxpayers at least $15 billion.
Obert's demands are:
1. The Parliament of Canada should repeal the Safe Streets and Communities Act in its entirety.
2. Former Ottawa Police chief and newly-appointed Conservative Senator, Vernon White, should immediately resign.
3. The federal government should make a commitment to invest 100 times the cost of monitoring and dismantling Occupy encampments across Canada last fall to institute a national inquiry into the case of 600+ missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.
4. The House of Commons should immediately democratize and improve transparency and accountability.
5. Harper and the Conservatives must stop their war on Canadians and Canadian democracy.
On March 13, Obert appealed to the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, to use the Crown's reserve powers to either withhold or reserve Royal Assent to Bill C-10. But Harper's tyrannical will prevailed, just as it did when the Conservative majorities in the House of Commons and Senate brushed aside the diverse input of the opposition, experts and victims and passed crime Bill C-10.
On March 19, Obert delivered a letter conveying his demand the the Parliament of Canada. The letter was addressed to: Prime Minister Stephan Harper, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada; Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition New Democratic Party; Bob Rae, Leader of Liberal Party of Canada; Louis Plamondon Leader of the bloc Québécois; Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party; all members of the House of Commons; and all members of the Senate of Canada.
Obert now awaits the response from the Prime Minister and the Parliament of Canada. He'll continue his hunger strike until off the demands are fulfilled.
"We're all being called upon to defend Canadian democracy at its greatest hour of need. To all those who cherish a progressive Canada, I urge you to stand up and push back against our elected dictator and petro-Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. Our democratic institutions, values and freedoms must be defended by any peaceful and democratic means necessary. Democracy should never yield to tyranny.
Now is the hour to tell Parliament to return to sanity and respect for our democratic and legislative processes. It's the hour to tell our MPs and Senators to listen to, and value, the concerns of all Canadians.
Now is the hour to build a society that nurtures hope instead of extinguishing it. It's a moment to remind ourselves that an injustice visited upon a single Canadian or community, is an injustice visited upon all of us. We must insist on a united and caring Canada that without apology encourages all to set aside differences and prescribed labels, and come together to create a strong national identity based on these Canadian values: compassion, respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law, multiculturalism, inclusion, diversity, fairness, democratic governance and accommodation of difference.
Therein, not the Safe Streets and Communities Act, lies our collective security."
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