Two years ago, a bill was passed quietly and on the sly. There was little done to prevent it because most had naively believed that the new law would not be used against law-abiding citizens. This law seems to be the most recent inspiration for the American version that had been used before it had even become law (an obscure 19th century version of the law had been used against Occupy Wall Street protesters and a version that specifically targeted the KKK was used against an officer who was protesting, but I suppose they had to update it so that it could properly apply to everyone), wherein protesters could be jailed for ‘only’ a year.
It seems Canada decided to one-up America at the time, when it comes to draconian prison terms for innocent behaviors at least, because this little-known law came with a ten year prison term.
In the wording of the law, wearing a mask (or any facial covering) while in an ‘unlawful’ assembly is against the law.
The politicians who had drafted the law had promised that it would not apply to protesters, since protests are technically legal. However, caveat emptor; the ten year prison sentence could well be used against lawful protesters as well and I am surprised that the Canadian people have not come to that realization, as further analysis of the law would have revealed.
Any protest deemed unlawful by the police, even if individuals are observed to be obeying the law, can result in a ten year sentence for protesters that cover their face.
Police may also deem any protest an unlawful assembly if it involves three or more people who, “disturb the peace tumultuously,” or even, “needlessly and without reasonable cause provoke other persons to disturb the peace tumultuously.”
Any mask or even neck-covering falls under the purview of this law, as well as RELIGIOUS coverings.
If the police decide that you had said something that might have provoked someone else to disturb the peace, then you could be imprisoned for ten years if your face was covered by an article of clothing prescribed by your own religion.
Considering the use of provocateurs by the police to entrap protest movement leaders (in the UK at least), this means ANY protester doing ANYTHING in a group with ANY face covering could become a target when the police decide to haul them in. Protesters who had been charged with violating this law were not hit with the maximum sentence yet, but the potential ten year stint is there for a reason.
According to the general counsel with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Natalie Des Rogers, “I think it is a more symbolic bill than it is a response. In our view, it shouldn’t come into law; there is no demonstrable need for this.”
“You cannot have a limit that is not prescribed by law, that is not clear to the citizens,” she added. “We have the right to know what is expected of us. When there is vague language in the context where it infringes a freedom prescribed by the Charter, it becomes an unreasonable limit.”
Canada and America are but two of several countries that ban masks.