Control freaks! Pickering City Council is stifling debate, discussion, and even press freedom. Why?

Members of the Durham Regional Police Service are now commonplace fixtures at council meetings, always on standby to remove or even criminally charge those who do not 'behave.'

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Pickering, Ont. might be situated in a democratic nation (well, such as it is under the rule of the Trudeau Liberals) but going to a municipal council meeting in this city just east of Toronto conjures up the vibe of what it must be like to attend a council meeting in, say, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. And no, we do not exaggerate.

The council, under the leadership of Mayor Kevin Ashe, has enacted a series of censorious procedures that are downright draconian and disturbing, seemingly designed to shut down debate and opposing viewpoints.

For example, if someone says or posts something on social media that is deemed to be negative towards a city councillor, that person will receive a visit from a bylaw enforcement officer and be served with a notice of… trespass!? No, seriously. Several citizens have received such notices, prohibiting them from venturing onto city property for committing the crime of… "wrong thought"?

According to Councillor Lisa Robinson  the sole councillor who has fought against these censorious measures  delegation times have been slashed from ten minutes to five minutes. There is no longer a question-and-answer period. Media outlets have to be "approved" by two-thirds of the council in order for the journalist to cover the meeting. Recording meetings on cell phones is now prohibited. Robinson says that even the live video feed of council meetings is allegedly being manipulated and censored.

Members of the Durham Regional Police Service are now commonplace fixtures at council meetings, always on standby to remove or even criminally charge those who do not "behave."

Disturbingly, it would appear that Pickering City Council is endeavouring to become the most censorious municipality in Canada. Some fear that the Pickering "template" might be adopted by other cities and towns in Canada as a means of shutting down debate and discussion.

Last Monday, Rebel News attended the most recent council meeting. We were instantly recognized by Mayor Ashe, and a vote was conducted as to whether we’d be deemed worthy enough to cover the proceedings (the Toronto Star had already received such approval). To our collective shock, we received the necessary two-thirds approval and were indeed permitted to stay.

Right off the bat, the mayor disqualified at least three delegates who had hoped to weigh in virtually. This was due to these delegates already receiving trespass notices on previous occasions. No, they did not break into a city-owned property after hours. Rather, they had allegedly uttered unkind remarks about various city councillors and the mayor.

At times the council meeting became heated. The censorship again manifested itself when Mayor Ashe silenced Councillor Robinson’s microphone. The mayor eventually called an abrupt recess to clear the room.

In the foyer, Rebel News interviewed many attendees who expressed their deep concerns that freedom of speech and freedom of expression are under attack in Pickering… even though this city is located in a dominion that supposedly embraces the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Indeed, it is somewhat perversely ironic that just about 100 metres outside the entrance to Pickering City Hall is the city’s cenotaph. The cenotaph honours those Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our democratic rights and freedoms. If those soldiers were alive today, what would they have to say about the Orwellian ideology that has now taken root in the city of Pickering?

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  • By David Menzies

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