Reaction to the 10-year sentence in mask ban bill
Many in the CBC Community wondered what constitutes a mask, and what constitutes a riot. (CP)On Thursday, Conservative MPs on the House justice committee tweaked the proposed law to double the maximum sentence for mask wearers from five years to 10.
Conservative MP Blake Richards, who proposed the law in October, agrees with the change. And in our most recent unscientific Community survey on the topic, nearly 53 per cent of respondents answered Yes to the question, "Should it be a crime to cover your face during a riot?"
However, many of the commenters on Thursday's story pointed out possible problems with the bill as written:
- This bill takes law-abiding citizens trying to protect their privacy and threatens them with jail time. - Chris.S.PEI
- The proposed law is an invitation for thousands of organized protesters to all show up at a rally wearing masks and dare the government to do something about it. - -Old Bike Guy-
- Yet another poorly considered law that will have to be reversed when the Cons lose their majority. - s_charottesburg
- The Supreme Court is going to have a field day with this law, and lots of our valuable tax dollars will be wasted in the process! - widman
Some members of the CBC Community objected to the severity of the sentence, although Conservative MPs say the change was made to harmonize the bill with existing laws about wearing a mask during the commission of a crime.
- That Bacon guy got seven years for being a known and wanted "gangster" and you want to put kids in prisons for 10 years for wearing a mask? What country am I in? - kibber
- Ten years isn't going to teach anyone to not wear mask in riots more than five years. And it's going to cost more money to tax payers than the person did harm. - bob027
- Ten years for wearing a mask yet pedophiles, murderers, rapists all get less for some of the crimes they commit. Corporations can destroy whole ecosystems and face no jail time. Workers can die at work through company negligence yet not one person has ever been convicted. - Blind Eye
- The Criminal Code of Canada seems to give a maximum sentence of five years for sexual assault. So wearing a mask is twice as bad as rape. - Kirstin
- I could understand a fine, or a few years if caught rioting with a mask, but 10 years is overkill. - trickymyk
Some people worried that the definition of riot or unlawful assembly in the bill could be broadly interpreted.
- Unlawful assembly would be the key phrase you'd want to worry about. Currently that is defined as "assembly of three or more persons who cause fear and on reasonable grounds disturb peace in the neighborhood." - Unexploded
- I think that wearing, say, a Guy Fawkes mask during a peaceful assembly IS part of the speech I am freely making, ergo FREE SPEECH, and not part of a criminal act I am not involved in. However, a block away, in the same protest march, if some idiot also wearing a Guy Fawkes mask smashes a window, deal with him according to the principles of criminal justice, for that vandal is a criminal. - Vain Zero
- Does this mean that the people engaging in lawful assembly will be warned by police when their assembly becomes unlawful so those present can remove any face coverings? I saw many people breaking no laws that were rounded up en-masse during the G-20 summit. What were their crimes? - omarofcanada84
And some thought that "a mask or disguise to conceal identify" was too vague, as well.
- What constitutes a "mask"? Is a clown nose a mask? Is a pair of glasses a mask? Is a kerchief to protect from gas a mask? What about a hoodie? - widman
- Then stop tear gassing them and they won't need to wear masks! - Don1973
- I hope this also applies to the riot police for their actions as well, considering they wear masks, don't carry identification, actually used disguises and fake identification. - Carsie
- What about if I'm participating in a demonstration (say a picket line) and it's -30 degrees? What happens if it's just a bit cold and I pull up my scarf? At what point do I get sent to prison for 10 years? If I cover my chin? my mouth? my nose? - O'Doone
Not all of the CBC Community was against the ban. Some saw it as reasonable way to punish those who would conceal their identity while they were committing crimes.
- The absurdity of the comments from those that are protesting this law is amusing. You are all free to wear your masks whenever you like - just don't do it while you are torching private property, police cars, your neighbour's cat or some other illegal activity. - Abiding Citizen
- Hey, I got an idea: if you don't want to spend 10 years in jail for wearing a mask at a protest, don't wear a mask at a protest. - cannonfodder01
- If the cause were truly worthy, people should have the courage to stand behind their convictions and proudly show their face in support. - Justin-Case
- That law can't be passed soon enough. The situation in Quebec has become an embarrassment for the country. Get serious and uphold the law. - Ron Alberta
- The strength of a protest is in the numbers and conviction of the protesters. Nothing dilutes that conviction in the eyes of the public like people hiding behind a mask. - inuk of the north
Thank you, as always, for your comments and for following our coverage. Please feel free to comment on or challenge any of these points and continue the conversation below.
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