Absurd Unconstitutional Bylaw In Alberta Town Bans Swearing; Imposes Restrictions on Public Assemblies

You’ve probably heard someone swear at some point today, or perhaps maybe you swore for some reason. Almost all of us have sworn at some point, some more than others. We’ve all heard others swear in public. Did it ever occur to you that swearing should be outright banned in public? Probably not, but one southern Alberta town has taken steps to do just that.

Taber, AB recently introduced the “community standards bylaw” which makes swearing in public an offence worthy of a $150 fine. It also imposes a curfew on youth under the age of 16, and gives law enforcement the power to break up an assembly of three people or more.

The bylaw passed town council 6-1.

On the first offence, a $150 fine will be issued. It then rises to $250 for the second offence, then to $500 for the third and future offences. “I’m not saying this thing is perfect, but I think we should give it a chance and try it out, and let the police work with it, after a period of time, we might make some adjustments, but let’s see how it works,” Mayor Henk De Vlieger said in an interview with The Taber Times

Here’s a suggestion for an “adjustment”; get rid of the bylaw altogether. Banning public swearing? Were there no other pressing issues at the time that needed attending to? Swearing is a fact of everyday life. People swear; get over it. People aren’t going to stop swearing, and introducing a bylaw to stop them from doing such is simply nonsense. The Police are going to enforce the new bylaw, which is quite the hypocrisy. Police officers are also human and there is a good chance many of them also swear. Guaranteed, they’ve sworn in public. So, before they go out to enforce such a nonsensical bylaw, should they all write themselves a 150 dollar ticket? Does this new bylaw scream “revenue generation” to anyone else?

The bylaw has already been called unconstitutional by a number of people. Under Canada’s charter of rights and freedoms, Canadians have the right to freedom of assembly, and expression. Swearing most certainly counts under the freedom of expression. You can’t ban a couple of words outright because you decided you don’t like them. As mentioned, swearing is a part of everyday life, and there is no way to get rid of it. It’s also rather sad that these so called “officials” decided that a bylaw banning swearing was worthy of their time. This is what taxpayers are funding? Maybe it’s time for a refund.

This bylaw gets worse. It also violates your right to assemble. The bylaw gives law enforcement the power to break up assemblies of three or more people if they believe they may “disturb the peace of the neighborhood.” Hold on a minute! This is basically saying if the law enforcement officer simply believes they may disturb the peace, Police can trample on their rights. This is unacceptable! I could understand breaking up a group of people if they were disturbing the peace in some manner, but taking action before they do anything is insane. These taxpayers really need a refund.

It’s a town of 8000 people. It’s not large, but it’s large enough that I’m sure that the town council could have found something better to do rather than come up with some nonsense bylaw that bans swearing, and gives law enforcement over reaching powers to break up groups of people on the grounds of believing they may disturb the peace.

The curfew for those under the age of 16 may not be the worst idea in the world and most certainly isn’t the worst part of this so called bylaw. It also introduces fines for graffiti starting at 2500 dollars, working their way up to 7500 dollars, which seems a little extreme. Maybe that should also be amended in favor of a fine that is solely dependent on the damage caused to the property. However it’s a better argument to make that the entire bylaw should be scrapped and then town council should start over when it comes to creating a curfew and implementing graffiti legislation.

I really wish this bylaw was satire, but it’s sadly not. It’s a real bylaw that will be enforced. Swearing is an offence worthy of a $150 fine in the town of Taber. If anything, this is a strange attempt at revenue generation. They’ve made a part of everyday language an offence worthy of a ticket. Everyone has sworn in public at one time or another. This would be an incredible revenue generating machine for the town if it weren’t so blatantly unconstitutional, which is especially demonstrated when it comes to the new rules regarding public assemblies. Someone on the receiving end of the fine will eventually take it to court, where there is a good chance that this bylaw will be struck down. As for the fine taxpayers of Taber, maybe it’s time for ask for a refund if town council really believes this is an intelligent use of their time.

The bylaw also bans a number of other things, including yelling and spitting. Below is the entire bylaw.

Community Standards Bylaw 4-2015_201503051248422621

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