Randolf Richardson (Zhang Wen Dao)

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My objection to a proposed bylaw that's illegal

Monday, June 12, 2017 by Randolf Richardson 張文道

On the evening of Monday, June 12, 2017, at a public meeting at Richmond City Hall, I objected to a recently proposed illegal bylaw because it violates our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  After introducing myself and thanking our Mayor and Councillors for the hard work they do, I proceeded to read the following:


The bylaw proposed is illegal because it unjustly restricts and violates our fundamental rights which are protected under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, particularly freedom of expression and the freedom to use signage in so doing.  As is the case with any city in any confederated Province, the City of Richmond does not possess the authority to merely dismiss our rights using bylaws or otherwise.

To make matters worse, any bylaw that compels someone to present their business using a particular language is also forcing them to risk violating the Competition Act, particularly sections 52 and 74 which proscribe against the practice of misleading the public about services provided.  There is also a serious element of danger because violating these sections has the potential to yield fines of up to $200,000 or a prison sentence as long as 14 years.

One of the many roles of a city councillor is to ensure that bylaws and other regulations are not illegal, and [yet] community harmony is stifled when freedom of expression is inhibited, regardless of whether censorship or compulsion is the form in which a community is oppressed.  Here in Canada we have a long-standing history of freedom and inclusiveness, and rejecting the proposed bylaw is a necessary means of continuing to support this wonderful character of diversity of which our national identity is comprised.

Please remove the amendment that violates our Charter Rights.

Many other people spoke for or against the proposed illegal bylaw too.  Our Mayor also raised an important question about whether the bylaw is needed given that Richmond City Staff reported 100% voluntary compliance by business owners who received suggestions to include English on their signs.

Before the end of the meeting, a motion to remove the wording for the illegal portion of the bylaw was passed by city council (after another vote passed to refer policy considerations to Richmond City Staff).

The motion to remove the unacceptable wording and consequently support our Charter of Rights and Freedoms was carried by Mayor Malcolm Brodie and Councillors Chak Au, Derek Dang, Ken Johnston, Bill McNulty, and Linda McPhail (see pages 14-16 in the minutes) -- opposed were Councillers Carol Day, Alexa Loo, and Harold Steeves.

If you'd like to contact me to share your perspective, I'd be delighted regardless of whether you agree with me.  My contact information is available on my contact page.

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