• reconciliactionyeg

A glance at the TruckerConvoy2022


Photo Credit: Justin Hardy

A glance at the TruckerConvoy 2022 and getting involved in law reform


Tansi Nîtôtemtik, good morning everyone,


Some laws need to change - and history has shown us there isn't a magic wand or fancy spell that will do the trick. That's why our topic for this week is law reform as one important way to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action. [1]


What is law reform, anyway? And what isn't? Let's take a look at the TruckerConvoy2022 to consider one part: language. If you are going to use legal language, use it responsibly.


While words have power, they are not magic.

Right now, the TruckerConvoy2022 is an example of people seeking law reform through civil disobedience and other means. [2] This has lots of moving parts, so let's focus on some specific language. One of the organizing platforms, the Canada Unity Website, hosts a self-proclaimed "Memorandum of Understanding" to rally people together for law reform.


Unfortunately, this site makes a number of confusing and unsupported claims about Canada's laws and law reform processes. Among many problematic claims about "lawful freedoms," it implies that a certain number of signatures can provide a referendum "Victory by default" and that senior government leaders must sign or “RESIGN their lawful positions of authority Immediately.” [3]


This is not how law reform works. If you want to make legal changes, knowing about the legal system and referencing specific laws and processes is helpful. A website full of intimidating, unsourced, mock legal jargon is not a promising start.


So what can we do when laws need to change?

There are many ways to get involved in changing laws. People of all stripes can get involved in law reform in meaningful ways, with convoys, banners, newspapers, elections, written agreements, and much more. [4]


You don't have to know legal words to get started. If you have the capacity, you can learn more about how legal and governmental systems work. You can learn, read and converse critically. [5] You can also contribute by surviving and by making one household, niece, grandfather, river, neighbour, institution, or community a little healthier or wiser. [6]


Unfortunately, misstatements, unfounded generalization, and fake legal language detract from political participation. [7] They confuse meaningful discussion and reform.


Words are not magic... but they can still cause harm

Claims about discrimination and segregation are serious. And official-sounding words like referendum, memorandum, and default can be used to talk about law reform.


However, sometimes important words are used to harm others. [8] Unfortunately, pseudo-legal language has been used in Canada to justify physical violence, land theft, avoiding child support payments, and other serious harms. [9]


Claims that a rental property is now an "embassy" the renter owns or that an MOU and referendum can cause the government to resign might seem like jokes. However, if meant seriously, these claims can cause harm. [10] Claims and phrases like "lawful freedoms" and "victory by default" can and should be questioned.


Fortunately, we have tools to assess claims about laws and government reform. Groups like Samara Canada have resources about politics and law for children, adults, and everyone in between. [11]


So let's be clear. While words have power, they are not magic.


A self-proclaimed MOU cannot change Canada's referendum laws or force government officials to resign just because its writers wish it to be so. Discussion, hard work, critical thinking, learning, and understanding are important parts of responsible protest and other kinds of law reform. Whatever their source, appeals to fake legal claims and blind trust in authority can cause harm.


That makes it all the more important to learn and think clearly, critically, and kindly about the systems we live in and the relationships that connect us.


There's a lot of legal reform that could help make the TRC Calls to Action a reality. Thinking and speaking critically and kindly is a first step.


Kinanâskomitin, thank you for reading and take care,


Hero and the ReconciliACTION team




[1] Home / Your Records / Reports (2022), online: National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, University of Manitoba <https://nctr.ca/records/reports/#trc-reports>.


[2] This is just one example of an article discussing the evolution of the convoy. Justin Ling, "MPs Told to Hide From Anti-Vaxxer Convoy by Parliament Security Chief," (January 22, 2022) online: Vice Global News, Vice <https://www.vice.com/en/article/bvnd34/mps-told-to-hide-from-anti-vaxxer-trucker-convoy-by-parliament-security-chief>.


[3] Canada Unity Website, M.O.U. (no date provided), online: Canada Unity, <https://canada-unity.com/mou/>. Accessed January 30, 2022. Emphasis in the original.


[4] For discussion see Roderick A MacDonald, Law Reform for Dummies (3rd Edition), 2014 51-3 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 859, 2014. For a note on civil disobedience and whether or not it is lawful in Canada, see Jennifer Koshan, "I Fought the Law: Civil Disobedience and the Law in Canada" (February 27, 2012), online: ABlawg.ca <https://ablawg.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/blog_jk_occupy_feb2012.pdf>.


[5] Amy, "Something to talk about" (February 27, 2012), online: Reconcili-ACTION YEG <https://ablawg.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/blog_jk_occupy_feb2012.pdf>.


[6] Jutta Brunnée and Stephen J. Toope, Legitimacy and Legality in International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).


[7] The Samara Centre for Democracy, "Active Citizenship" (no date provided), online: The Samara Centre for Democracy <https://www.samaracanada.com/samara-in-the-classroom#active_citizenship> [Samara]


[8] George Orwell, Politics and the English Language (April 1946), online: The Orwell Foundation <https://www.orwellfoundation.com/the-orwell-foundation/orwell/essays-and-other-works/politics-and-the-english-language/>.


[9] See Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571 at 181-182, 198; Donald J Netolitzky, The History of the Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument Phenomenon in Canada, 2016 53-3 Alberta Law Review 609, 2016 CanLIIDocs 55 at 628-629; and Donald J Netolitzky, After the Hammer: Six Years of Meads v. Meads, 2019 56-4 Alberta Law Review 1167, 2019 at 1168.


[10] See for example The Canadian Press, "'Freeman-on-the-land' who declared rentals sovereign 'embassies' 'a very dangerous person,' former landlady says" (September 26, 2013), online: National Post <https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/freeman-on-the-land-who-declared-rentals-sovereign-embassies-a-very-dangerous-person-former-landlady-says>.


[11] Samara, supra note 7. See also Senator Eugene Forsey, Discover How Canadians Govern Themselves (March 2012), online: Parliament of Canada < https://lop.parl.ca/About/Parliament/SenatorEugeneForsey/home/index-e.html> (website and 60 page booklet). See also Craig Forcese, "Administrative Law Module 5: Separation of Powers" (no date provided), online: Craig Forcese Full Professor Faculty of Law University of Ottawa <https://www.craigforcese.com/administrative-law-1> (30 minute video). Regarding the Canada Unity Website claims specifically, two places to start are the Referendum Act S.C. 1992, c. 30 and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of the Constitution Act 1982 (enacted as Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982, 1982, c. 11 (U.K.)).





194 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All