OTTAWA, May 6, 2012 - Today marks the 53rd day of my indefinite hunger strike against Canada’s new draconian crime law, the deceptively christened “Safe Streets and Communities Act”, formerly omnibus crime Bill C10. My name is Obert Madondo. I’m Ottawa-based activist and progressive political blogger. My two core demands: the Parliament of Canada should immediately repeal the law AND Senator Vernon White must resign.
Although my health has deteriorated significantly since I started the hunger strike on March 14, the silent treatment I’ve received from the Parliament of Canada and the mainstream media so far has left me no choice but to take my peaceful protest to Parliament Hill. Starting Monday, May 7, 2012, I will be protesting from the steps to Parliament Hill every day from 12pm to 5pm.
- PETITION: PM Harper, Parliament of Canada: Fulfill Obert’s Bill C10 hunger strike demands NOW!
- YouTube Campaign Video
- Appeal to the Parliament of Canada
- Appeal to the Governor General of Canada
- Letter to Senator Vernon White
- Selected Journal Entries
- Canada Crime Bill C10 hunger striker concerned about Parliament’s “silent treatment”
- Activist protests omnibus crime bill with hunger strike, Rabble.ca
- Hunger strike activist spurned at doors of Canada’s Parliament: “Go put it in the mail”, AllVoices Ottawa man to go on hunger strike to protest Bill C-10, Metro News
- Man begins hunger strike to protest omnibus crime bill, Centretown News
- Taking a stand against ‘draconian’ crime bill, EMC Ottawa South
- Occupier begins hunger strike to protest crime bill, Charlatan
I communicated my demands to Parliament on March 27. I’m yet to receive an official response. During the last eight weeks, I’ve contacted hundreds of newsrooms and journalists across Canada. The mainstream media is yet to cover my story. Ironically, every day I read in the local media about hunger strikes currently taking place outside our borders, such as the Ukraine and Israel. What is going on here?
I chose to put my life on the line in the hope of re-introducing into the language of our politics something that our politics ruthlessly excluded during the debate on Bill C10. The pillars of our democracy, among them, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, were erected through democratic conversation. Parliament’s unresponsiveness seems to replicate the anti-democratic tactics we witnessed during the debate on Bill C10.
The Conservative majorities in the House of Commons and Senate passed the bill, a composite of nine pieces of legislation, without the comprehensive debate and oversight our parliamentary democracy demands. The government shut out the voices of ordinary Canadians, elected representatives and experts who offered progressive options to the harsh provisions of the backward-looking bill. For example, the Liberals in the Senate proposed 16 amendments, including the restoration of judicial discretion. All were rejected.
I’m concerned that this “tyranny of silence” is becoming the new normal in Canada. It seeks replace Canada’s fine art of democratic conversation. It wears down progressive opponents of ideology-based official policy and discourages Canadians from engaging and questioning.
I will continue the peaceful act of civil disobedience until all the demands are met. The demands are:
- The Parliament of Canada should repeal the Safe Streets and Communities Act in its entirety.
- Former Ottawa Police chief and newly-appointed Senator, Vernon White, should immediately resign.
- 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.
- The House of Commons should immediately institute measures to improve accountability and transparency.
- Harper and Conservatives must immediately stop their war on Canadians and Canadian democracy.
Sure, Bill C10 is now the law of the land, but the serious concerns shared by Canadians of all political stripes still live. The law violates the Charter, particularly the right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment, and the right to liberty. It will radically stir the Canadian justice system away from the prevention and restorative measures that have proven to be more humane, effective and cheaper, towards punishment and exclusion. At least $19 billion will be diverted from public goods to implement the law. The law’s mandatory minimums take away judges’ discretion and undermine the judiciary. The mandatory minimums and tougher sentences on young and first timers will grow tomorrow’s hardened criminals, and meaner streets. The law will grow mega jails and a war on drugs in Canada which, together with new tougher sentences, will punish vulnerable communities where high crime rates can be traced to poverty, lack of opportunity and historical disadvantage.
A hunger strike is obviously a weapon of last resort for the powerless. But I’m not questioning the effectiveness of a hunger protest in Canada. Twenty-six years ago, Senator Jacques Hébert completed a 21-day hunger strike to protest the Brian Mulroney government’s decision to nuke the Katimavik project. He saved Katimavik, one of Canada’s oldest and largest youth volunteer programs. Unfortunately, the project did not survive the 2012 federal budget cuts.
My protest is a journey of hope. In Canada, our collective spirit of hope is enshrined in the values etched in the Charter, particularly: compassion, fairness and respect for fundamental rights. In these values lie our collective security, not in the Safe Streets and Communities Act. I hope to embolden Parliament to give the law the real sober second thought it deserves. I hope to remind our legislators that a hunger strike in a democracy is a sign of imperfect democracy. It betrays an invisible police-state lite. I hope to build a Canada-wide movement against the Safe Streets and Communities Act.
So far, being connected and communicating with you all via Facebook, Twitter, email and my blog had been a pillar of my coping strategy. Last Thursday, Ottawa Hydro and they disconnected my hydro service. I owed them $-. This temporary setback does not diminish my determination to have the Safe Streets and Communities Act repealed.
Tel: (613) 265 4295
Email: [email protected]Website: www.canadianprogressiveworld.comSocial Media: Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/obie.mad), Twitter (@Obiemad) and LinkedIn(http://www.linkedin.com/in/obiemad)