Randy McKeen is a radio show host on "Fredericton's Country Station", KHJ Radio. The other day on his segment, The Bottom Line with Randy McKeen, the radio personality came to the support of blogger Charles LeBlanc and politely ridiculed police for arresting LeBlanc.
If I didn't know better, I'd say McKeen had read my recent article on Charles LeBlanc and changed a few words before reading it on the air! Seriously though, clearly McKeen and I see this issue through the same lens and believe the Fredericton Police Force need to clean up their act.
McKeen's radio segment is posted on the KHJ website, and I've added it below for your easy listening pleasure.
Also coming to LeBlanc's defense is Fredericton City Councillor Jordan Graham, pictured here. On his website, Jordan describes himself this way:
"I am a Fredericton resident who is committed to seeing great things happen in my city. I am passionate, engaged and experienced.
My passion is evident in my work ethic and determination. I keep the reason behind what I do in mind at all times. That reason is the people I serve. "
Currently his website seems to be a work in progress, as most of the content available seems focused on getting him elected, not on the work he has done since being elected.
The blog portion of his website greets users only with an ugly "Error establishing a database connection", so there is clearly some work to be done yet. Those technical issues aside, it appears he is in full support of Charles LeBlanc and his Right to Freedom of Speech.
(Jordan, contact me directly if you want your blog issue fixed in about 5 minutes flat. No charge!)
He tweeted the following messages recently:
@seguincbc he's not the only one with questions. This is an attack on civil liberties. I'm looking forward to council tonight
Civil liberties do come with civil responsibility. That's why it should be a civil matter and not forfeited to police discretion
I'm encouraged by the support for my stance. I'm asking people to question the handling of situations like this and consider the impacts
On Charles LeBlanc's website Jordan Graham is quoted saying this:
Generally, the world has improved greatly with democracy. People want the opportunity to change what isn’t good and hold onto what is. This is advancement. What is critical to this equation however, is the need to have space for whistleblowers. Democracy needs a society that allows people to say they don’t like the way things are going, no matter how correct or incorrect the subject of criticism might be.
Underpinning all of this is the courage of the whistleblower; the person who challenges the state because they expect a higher standard from their government. Maybe it is a journalist, or maybe a citizen with an experience. Maybe it’s just an observer. Maybe it is a blogger with a video camera.
But what happens when government, the monopoly of force, no longer wants to be criticized? What happens if government acts against that individual to send a message to them and others who may follow? What happens when governments stifle dissent?
I consider what occurred recently in Fredericton, New Brunswick, the city where I serve as a City Councilor an attack on free speech and the ability to challenge government. Local Blogger Charles Leblanc had his home raided and computer seized by the Fredericton Police Force under what is expected to be the charge of defamatory libel when Leblanc appears in court on April 20th.
While all that is interesting and a useful description of history as well as the current abuses being heaped on Blogger, as Charles LeBlanc refers to himself, it's what Jordan Graham says a little further down the column that really hit the nail on the head:
Whether it was intended or not, the City of Fredericton is sending a message that nuisances will be silenced, and that people should think twice about taking on the state. After all, if this isn’t a message, then why send 8 officers?
The following video is Jordan Graham speaking to bloggers on the streets of Fredericton, making the point that civil liberties need to be respected, not trampled by police, and he makes a great point about how just because a law is on the books, it doesn't make the law right.
Silencing Dissent is what thugocracies do. It's what dictatorships do.
This behaviour by police has no place in Canada and is a direct violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Unfortunately, defending those cherished Rights and Freedoms requires cash, and truckloads of it, because the only way to defend your Charter Rights is to take that fight to court after your rights have been violated.
Silencing Dissent, of course, doesn't cost a dime extra.
The thugs sent to arrest Charles LeBlanc and seize his computer equipment are already on the government payroll. They received the same pay that day as they did the day before as well as the day after, regardless of whether or not they actually did anything useful or not; regardless of whether they violated someone else's Charter Rights or not.
Police forces are neither all good nor all bad. They are always some mix of both. The hope is, of course, that the percentage of "good" outweighs the "bad", and by a considerable margin. It remains to be seen where the percentages are for the Fredericton Police Force, but so far the initial results are not promising.
Fredericton is the capital of the province of New Brunswick. Its police force is called on to manage all sorts of issues, both political and criminal. Ultimately, however, the Fredericton Police Department is responsible to and held accountable for its actions by the City of Fredericton and its mayor Brad Woodside.
What will prove interesting in the coming days and weeks is whether or not Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside will give a statement on this issue or whether he will abdicate that responsibility in favour of pandering to his chief of police.
"Blogger" has nothing but good things to say about Woodside, calling him "by far the best mayor this city ever had" ... it will be, as I said, very interesting to see if the reverse is true.
Fredericton Chief of Police Barry MacNight was captured on video doing his best to distance himself and his force from the arrest. He chose his words very carefully and with good reason. Aside from all the reporters and equipment capturing his every word, Blogger himself was there recording MacNight on his own video camera!