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Mayor's comments about civil disobedience spark protest at Regina City Hall
About 40 people gathered at a rally outside Regina City Hall on Monday, June 5, 2017.
Published Monday, June 5, 2017 12:51PM CST
Last Updated Monday, June 5, 2017 5:49PM CST
A group of about 40 protesters rallied outside city hall on Monday in favour of civil disobedience.
“At a certain point, you have to take a stand to protect basic social and economic rights for people, and civil disobedience is certainly a consideration under the right circumstances,” said Peter Gilmer with the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry.
The rally came after weekly protests against provincial budget cuts. Last week, Regina Ward 3 Councillor Andrew Stevens tweeted out "civil disobedience is important" after protestors refused to leave the final Saskatchewan Transportation Company bus as the service ended.
But the next day, Mayor Michael Fougere disagreed, and stated in an interview with media "there is never, ever a time for civil disobedience."
This has caused outrage among some Saskatchewan residents.
“Civil disobedience is standing up for what's right,” said Bob Hughes with the Saskatchewan Coalition against Racism.
“If we can't have civil disobedience, if we can't have people engage in civil disobedience, the only thing left is a riot.”
Fougere was outside the province Monday, but he issued a statement in response to the rally.
“A member of my Council suggested late last week that civil disobedience connected to the closure of STC is legitimate. I disagree,” the statement read.
“Legitimate political dissent and protest is absolutely welcome in a democratic society; it is a form of expression that can focus public attention and bring about much-needed change. I fully support peaceful protest and welcome and encourage it when people feel it is necessary. No community is perfect, ours included, and until it is people should be and will be allowed to raise their collective voice and be recognized.
“Civil disobedience, however, is a completely different activity that speaks to acting outside the bounds of the law. I believe that when dissent crosses the line into breaking the law or inciting a response it is something entirely different, and the context of that action becomes crucially important.”
Protesters predict that, as more budget cuts from the city and the province roll out in the coming weeks, there will be more acts of “civil disobedience.”