Authoritarian Jasper Violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom by Attempting to Silence Monika Schaefer’s Violin in Canada’s Jasper National Park by Prof. Tony Hall
Authoritarian Jasper Violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom by Attempting to Silence Monika Schaefer’s Violin in Canada’s Jasper National Park
by Prof. Tony Hall
To Dave Baker,
I am dumbfounded by the decision you delivered on behalf of some unnamed authority. To Ms. Monika Schaefer you write, “We have considered your application for a busking permit in Jasper. In light of your recently publicly proclaimed non-inclusive beliefs we have decided to decline a permit to you at this time.”
Please clarify who is included in this “we” on whose behalf you claim to speak? Who takes responsibility for the decision to violate core provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the community of Canada’s Jasper National Park?
This unilateral decision extends the so-far-unaccountable decision of those in Jasper’s Canada Day Committee to silence Monika Schaefer’s violin playing last July 1st. Because some Jasperites apparently threatened to disrupt the event, presumably in response to Ms. Schaefer’s peaceful video expression, the precedent was set that Jasper is a place of censorship where freedom of expression and conscience can be subordinated when threats of violence arise.
Now comes this gross violation of fundamental principles of Canadian decency, not to mention the rule of law, as dictated by whatever authority it is on whose behalf you, Dave Baker, claim to be acting in handing down this truly reprehensible arbitration.
Canadians should know that because of the treatment by officialdom of Monika Schaefer, a very active and contributing 35-year citizen of the community you share with her, Jasper should not be considered a safe place suitable for hosting international visitors. From what I have been learning, Jasper seems to be a place where intolerance and arbitrary measures go forward founded on nothing more than the political opinion of unaccountable decision makers.
So far Monika has been dis-invited from her invited Canada Day performance. She has, as reported in The Fitzhugh, been banned from the Jasper Legion No. 31 seemingly on the unilateral say so of Ken Kuzminki. She has been refused by The Fitzhugh newspaper a right of a full response. Her censored full response to the original smear piece against her was considerably shorter than Paul Clarke’s report. Now you and those unnamed individuals for whom you claim to speak have decided to discriminate against Ms. Schaefer because of her beliefs. Characterizing her opinion as “non-inclusive” you have determined she is ineligible for a busking permits to play music in the Jasper town centre.
Your decision is exclusionary as well as discriminatory. The actions taken by you and others are thought to be “justified” on the basis of personal opinions about her video, a 6 minute item that some dislike and many more like. At last count of the 70,000 or so views, over 1400 individuals registered a “like” of the video while almost 600 voted thumbs down.
Given the way Jasper authorities are dealing with this controversy so far, should those that express “like” for the video be banned from Jasper National Park? Should entry into Jasper National Park be conditional on expressing dislike with Ms. Schaefer’s “Sorry Mom” video? Should entrants to the park have to go through screening for political correctness? Should all existing residents be subjected to a thought test like that to which Ms. Schaefer is currently being subjected?
Will the next step be to require Ms. Schaefer to wear some marker, say with a Germany-related symbol, to announce to visitors that she is the punished Jasper citizen whose ideas are so verboten that her violin playing in the streets of Jasper has been prohibited? Will all applicants for a busking permit be subjected to Internet checks to make sure everything they have published is consistent the Values and Principles Statement emanating from the Jasper Community Habitat for the Arts? To do any less would be discriminatory.
I await your indication of who is behind the decision to ban Monika’s beautiful violin playing from the streets of Jasper because she dared speak her mind on a controversial issue that should be treated with nuanced responses rather than with the authoritarian approach that you express in your terse statement to her. How many benefit events in Jasper have been graced by Monika’s legendary violin playing, now transformed into a political football to be thrown around for self-interested political advantage by Jasper’s self-appointed arbiters of community values and tastes.
Professor of Liberal Education and Globalization Studies
University of Lethbridge