Canada has had a longstanding reputation around the world for being a country of kindness and compassion. Though as of late that reputation seems to have taken a hit as more and more hate fueled bills are passed with increasing frequency. Bill 7 is the newest iteration of that hate.
On Tuesday, October 24th, Public Safety Minister Kris Austin introduced Bill 7 in the New Brunswick legislature. He did so in order to give public safety as well as police officers “more teeth” in order to “deal” with trespassers through enforcing the province’s Trespass Act.
The bill would give public safety officers as well as police officers the ability to arrest individuals suspected of trespassing or those recently suspected of trespassing, even if they have left the trespassed property.
Luckily it seems like there are people in the Chamber of Commerce that see the issues stemming from the nature of the bill. One such person is John Wishart, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton who had this to say in an interview with CBC: “It’s part of a solution, if it can be executed right, but we need those more fundamental things like mental health, addiction [services] and affordable housing, essentially to really make it work.”
Public Safety Minister Kris Austin also had some concerns with the bill targeting a disproportionately mistreated group of New Brunswickers. In an interview with CBC Austin stated, “This provincial government just recorded a $1-billion surplus, surely we have the fiscal capacity to spend some on affordable housing, mental health and addiction services, along with beefing up our Trespass Act. So I think that’s a big missing element in the provincial response.”
The point which Wishart and Austin make speaks echoes as to what Bill 7 is really doing and that is punishing the unhoused. With a recession on the horizon and the price of rent and groceries soaring through the roof, the homeless population is bound to increase. Due to the government’s failure to establish adequate infrastructure for addressing homelessness, individuals in this situation are forced to seek shelter wherever possible.
Thus, Bill 7 serves as an opportunity to further discriminate against a population facing hardships, one which the people passing these bills will never experience due to their privilege.
So please, don’t blame the ones that are being discriminated against. Instead call for a repeal of this bill and try to do the right thing. Provide housing, food, and mental health services for the struggling citizens of this province. Allow them the opportunity to get back on their feet and give them another opportunity at a comfortable life. At the end of the day, thriving citizens make a thriving province, and right now New Brunswick is not that place.