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Jody Vance: Peaceful protest is a right. Breaking the law should have consequences. There’s no contradiction here.
(Blake Elliott /

I love trees. I feel that cutting down glorious places like our Cathedral Groves and Fairy Creeks is worthy of protest. But people gluing themselves to highways really must stop.

It is illegal to block vital infrastructure and endanger citizens, and yet here we are. If my loved one was in an ambulance, stuck in an avoidable traffic jam, I would lose my shit.

There are signs more and more people are losing patience with the newfound level of protesting. Those involved say it’s required to capture the attention of our elected officials. I’m calling BS on just letting it continue, as we slip quickly toward a standoff between ordinary citizens and protestors in a dangerous way.

My search for a Middle is stuck. Stuck like an old-growth protestor to pavement. My Middle is also stuck being scared for what might happen next if there aren’t clear boundaries laid out for what constitutes civil disobedience, what crosses the line – and who should have to pay for it.

Stuck in limbo between the right to protest, and the costs of the increasingly popular brand of disruptive protest.

Go from glued humans on highways to convoys. I’m not sure that “Rolling Thunder” had anything to do with what the organizers said (veterans?) and ended up chanting U-S-A while walking the streets of Ottawa? Whatever freedom these protests were demanding, can the rest of us not demand that we shouldn’t get the tab? Low estimates peg it around $3 million. A million dollars per day.

So here’s my Middle: elected officials should go ahead and take phone calls from protesters. Listen. And then clearly, directly explain the consequences of breaking the law – and the cost. If you organize a protest that intends to break the law, you’re on the hook for policing costs. Peaceful protests should always cost nothing. Violent or disruptive ones, however…

There is no contradiction between respecting and upholding the right to protest, and enforcing consequences of intimidation and blocking roads and railways. We should not be shy or squeamish about either.

Peeling off the camo and body armour, and focusing on documenting habitually disruptive protestors (just there for the party) and the actual concerned, informed activists and advocates will be a benefit everyone involved.

We have millions and millions of taxpayer dollars earmarked for beefing up our defences here in Canada, what better training ground than to be boots on the ground with a focus on keeping the peace?

To steal a line from the deputy prime minister, let me be clear. The cost equation of disruptive protesting should not be a question answered by the marching, or glued, but by our elected officials.

Someone, somewhere, has the power to have the costs of policing and clean-up, time lost in traffic jams and subsequent lawsuits, covered some other way than yet more cost to the taxpayer. You break it, you pay for it.