How to Occupy a Member of Parliament's Office

CANNABIS CULTURE - Want to be a member of the 'Free Marc' Campaign but don't know where to start? Cannabis Culture presents a step-by-step guide to occupying your local Conservative Member of Parliament's office.

Why Occupy an MP's Office?

The Conservative Party has declared a war on Canadian culture, including the cannabis culture. With mandatory minimums for marijuana proposed in Bill S-10, the extradition of cannabis activist Marc Emery, the busts of medical marijuana dispensaries in Quebec and Ontario, and the budget cuts to Health Canada's medical marijuana program, it's blatantly clear that the Conservative Party is out to destroy our marijuana culture and community.

CLICK HERE to read more about 'FREE MARC' CONSERVATIVE OFFICE OCCUPATIONS

We are no longer trying to change the minds of Conservative politicians; instead, we intend to show them we are here to campaign against them. We will go into their offices, come to their campaign events, and hound them wherever they are. We will be relentless, and by going directly to their offices, we demonstrate this.

In short, this is a war of ideas and values, and we are taking the fight to them. No longer will we let our MP's hide in their offices and ignore the people. We will force them to acknowledge us, by sight, sound, and if you have your medical marijuana card, smell.

This Conservative Party wants to rule and control you. When we occupy their offices and roll marijuana on their desks and the police do nothing to stop us, it cuts through the core of their punishment-happy psyche and sends a strong message. Nothing says “You can not stop us” like rolling marijuana on their desk.

This article is intended to let you know how you can help take the fight directly to the Conservative Party!

Your Rights

First, let's go over your rights according to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

Section 2: Fundamental Freedoms

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.

The keys here are “Expression” and “Peaceful Assembly”. Expression includes more than just speech, because it allows non-verbal expressions, like protesting, using loudspeaker systems, etc. “Peaceful Assembly” specifically allows protest, or indeed any assembly that is peaceful.

Section 20: Communications by public with federal institutions

(1) Any member of the public in Canada has the right to communicate with, and to receive available services from, any head or central office of an institution of the Parliament or government of Canada in English or French, and has the same right with respect to any other office of any such institution where

(a) there is a significant demand for communications with and services from that office in such language; or
(b) due to the nature of the office, it is reasonable that communications with and services from that office be available in both English and French.

You have a right, as a Canadian to access services at any office, anywhere, during open hours, in both languages. This includes Member of Parliament offices; even offices belonging to Member's of Parliament other than in your own riding.

Section 32:

(1)This Charter applies

(a) to the Parliament and government of Canada in respect of all matters within the authority of Parliament including all matters relating to the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories; and
(b) to the legislature and government of each province in respect of all matters within the authority of the legislature of each province.

So, you have a right to protest, a right to be served in any office of government, and the Constitution applies to all government entities, including constituency offices. It doesn't matter if it's in a mall because the office is rented by the public, which makes it public space. You have every right to be inside any MP's office during open hours. If they say it's private property, they are wrong - it's rented by the public.

Sit-ins, or occupations, have a long history in activism, with a peak in popularity in the 1960s. We have the right to protest inside these offices, and we must exercise that right.

How To Occupy an MP's Office

(1) Pick a date, time, and place to meet for your protest

Pick a secondary place to meet, like a local bong shop or public place where people are allowed to assemble without drawing too much attention. Then you can depart to the MP's office as a group and arrive together. Any date during the week will do, and MP offices are typically open from 9am to 5pm, with an hour lunch break from 12-1.

(2) Invite everyone you know

Let your friends and fellow activists know of a the place to meet but don't tell them exactly where you are going afterwards or make them promise to keep it a secret! It's very important not to let the Conservatives know you are coming. Don't write the specific details of your plan on Facebook or other websites, as pot activists are often being monitored. The Conservative Party pays hundreds of people to watch social networks, forums, and blogs, so be careful. These occupations are effective with a large crowd or even just few people.

(3) Prepare your cameras, phones, etc

Make sure your batteries are charged, memory sticks cleared, and cameras ready to record! Make sure you are videotaping from the moment you walk into the office, until the moment the police back down. If you have a smartphone, download and install Qik so that you can send video directly to the Internet from your phone. The more cameras the better! If you've seen the video of my arrest, you will know how important video is to keeping us safe from unfounded charges.

(4) Arrive together at the MPs office

Make sure you and your fellow activists arrive together so you're not waiting around in front of the office. If some of your people are late, simply enter as a small group. It is vital to get into the office before they lock it up, which they will likely do if they know you're coming.

(5) Enter the office

Politely let the staff know you're there to protest, that it's legal, and that you'll be staying until closing. Remember, our “fight” isn't with the secretaries, it's with their bosses (and the party bosses). The staff will call the police, but don't worry. Police, if they demand you leave, will give plenty of warning before any arrests; most police have been instructed that these protests are legal. If you don't have a medical marijuana card, don't bring marijuana with you, as police will likely demand your card. If you have a card, remember, you can roll marijuana anywhere you like, legally. Inform police and staff that you are there under Sections 2, 20 and 32 of the Charter of Rights. Once you're in, get comfortable. Occupy any open offices and sit down, either on the floor or at a desk. If the door is open, you can enter the office, so go ahead! Don't let police or staff intimidate you!

(6) Call the media

It is good to have a list of phone numbers for local newspaper and TV stations that you can call once you're inside the office. Tell them you are staging a 'Free Marc' protest inside the MP's office and have the address ready. Give them other details if necessary and ask them to send someone. It usually takes journalists and photographers a bit of time to show up, so it's best to call as soon as you're inside the office.

(7) Announce your Success on Twitter

The best way to tell the world you are in an MP's office is via Twitter and other social networking sites. If you're savy, add the Twitter Application to your Facebook account and enable auto-reposting of your twitter to your Facebook. This way, anything you tweet from your phone will go out over both social networks. It's important to get your Qik feed (if you have one) included in your first tweets. Post details of what's happening and you'll have people watching your protest live via the internet!

(8) Have fun

You are exercising your rights, something millions have fought and died for! Enjoy it! Sing, play guitar, and enjoy sticking it to the Conservative Party! You can do anything in the office that doesn't disrupt their ability to do business. Let them talk to people, let them work, but by all means have fun! You are free to speak with any members of the public who enter, so let them know all about Marc Emery, Bill S-10, and why we must defeat this Conservative Party.

9) Don't stop filming

No matter what police, staff or anyone else tells you, DO NOT STOP FILMING! You have every right to film police, and we have already fought and WON in court over that right. If police start seizing cameras, remove your card and pocket it (without the police seeing) and make sure you are recording to Qik.com. If Police seize cameras, we will sue, and we will win. DO NOT STOP FILMING!

10) Decide when to leave

When staff and police are less than polite, we stay for longer periods; where they are completely welcoming, we stay for less time. We want to train the Conservatives that we will force our rights upon them if they decide not to respect them. For those who do respect our rights, we leave early and post their names to the Internet. So far, Ed Fast and Gary Lunn have been somewhat welcoming, while Stephen Harper, Rob Nicholson and Andrew Saxton have been completely hostile. We stayed at Harper's office until exactly 5 because they tried to force us out. Nothing makes this Conservative Party feel powerless like the inability to remove us from their offices. So enjoy yourself! When your group decides to leave, thank the staff and police for their hospitality and smile! This is fun, so let them know you're enjoying yourself.

'How-To' wrap up:

Bring: Cameras, Cell Phones, Handbills, buttons, whatever you've got! We've done these occupations with as many as 30 people and lots of signs, to as few as 4 people without any signage. This is about taking the fight to the Conservatives, so it's our presence, more than our materials, that makes all the difference.

You have every right to be inside of an MP's office, and if you're a medical user, you have every right to roll your marijuana inside that office! Enjoy yourselves, smile a lot, and stick to your guns - you have every right to be there!

Frequently Asked Questions

What if Police say we have to leave?

Tell them "no, I have every right to be here until closing, feel free to call Crown (Counsel) and discuss it with them." If Police push on this, it's up to you; if you're willing to get arrested to prove your point, do so, otherwise leave the office. It's good to plan ahead for this, and discuss as a group who, if anyone, is willing to get arrested should it come to that.

What if Police tell us to stop recording?

Don't. Tell them: "an MP's office is public space, you are on public duty and have no expectation of privacy. The Supreme Court of Canada has already decided this issue. Also, this is live to the Internet, so you're going to have to explain why you, as a law enforcement officer, don't already know that."

What if staff say they're closing early?

Tell them: "no, your posted open hours are 9-5, you can not simply prevent us from protesting by closing; that would violate our constitutional rights. We will leave promptly at 5pm, the posted closing hours for this office."

What if people get arrested?

We will help cover legal costs related purely to a sit-in, videotaping, or medical users rolling marijuana. It only takes one person charged to mount a Charter Challenge, and defending people in court is expensive. If you want to be arrested, do so, if you don't, do not. Getting arrested is not about courage, it's about the ability to do so without being harmed. We do not want people losing their jobs, or otherwise compromising their ability to be activists in the future! If people start being arrested, it's your decision, stay and get arrested with them or leave and start calling media and lawyers. We are a team, with many different positions, so do what you're comfortable with!

What if the MP wants to talk to us?

Talk to them! Inform them that you're very upset at the Conservative Party's policies on drugs, and their total disregard for evidence or popular support. Tell them that you will be campaigning against them, and so will your friends, so long as they continue to support Stephen Harper's government. If they are willing to resign from the party, vote against Bill S-10, or speak out in favour of Marc Emery, then post it online! If we can make friends in the party, by all means do so. Sadly, the vast majority of these MPs will remain in opposition to drug policy reform, so let them know we will be back during the campaign to make sure they're defeated.

What if they say the office is private property?

They are wrong. Tell them: "this office is rented by the public, making it public property." It's that simple, they tried this at Stephen Harper's office, and we stood our ground. Calling an MP's office private property is like calling the sky Green, you can say it all you want, but that doesn't make it true.

Have more questions? Email them to jacob@jacobhunter.org and I will update this article! Let me know when you're doing a rally in your area and I will help get people out to it! Above all else, remember: Bring CHARGED cameras with EMPTY cards :) Be safe out there and have fun! Free Marc Emery!

Jacob Hunter is policy director for the Beyond Prohibition Foundation, founder of WhyProhibition.ca and an organizer for the Free Marc Emery Campaign. Read his Cannabis Culture Blog.

Comments

How To Occupy An Mps' Office

Well thought out and written article. A great primer for new activists. Question: Does CC store have "My Rights" cards available, or do you know where they might be printed off of the net? Thx.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS 1.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
1. Silence—You can refuse to talk to the police or answer their questions. You must give your name, birthdate, and address, or show them your ID. You DO NOT have to say anything else.
2. You can say NO if police ask to search any of your things.
3. You can leave unless you are being arrested or detained
4. You have the right to know why you are being detained, and to speak privately to a lawyer—even if you can’t pay.
5. You can only be strip-searched in private, and only by someone of the same sex.
6. You have the right to know the officers’ badge numbers.
7. You can report an officer who abuses me, swears at me, or violates your rights
Example of what to say if you are being detained:
“Officer, if I am under arrest or being detained, please tell me so...If I am free to go, please tell me so. If I am not free to go, please tell me why...I wish to exercise all my leagal rights, including my right to silence and my right to speak to a lawyer, before I say anything to you. I do not consent to be searched. I wish to be released without delay...Please do not ask me questions, because I will not willingly talk to you until I speak to a lawyer...Thank you for respecting my rights.”
*Every situation is different. Use courtesy, and common sense.

Thanks

Copied and Pasted, Thanks!

Charter interpretation

Can't really agree with this interpretation;

"Section 20: Communications by public with federal institutions

(1) Any member of the public in Canada has the right to communicate with, and to receive available services from, any head or central office of an institution of the Parliament or government of Canada in English or French, and has the same right with respect to any other office of any such institution where

(a) there is a significant demand for communications with and services from that office in such language; or
(b) due to the nature of the office, it is reasonable that communications with and services from that office be available in both English and French.

You have a right, as a Canadian to access services at any office, anywhere, during open hours, in both languages. This includes Member of Parliament offices; even offices belonging to Member's of Parliament other than in your own riding."

It does not say that you have the right to go into an MP's office any time you want. It merely says "Any member of the public in Canada has the right to communicate with, and to receive available services from, any head or central office of an institution of the Parliament or government of Canada in English or French, and has the same right with respect to any other office of any such institution". Notice the words "institution of the Parliament or government of Canada". Is an MP's office an "institution". Pretty clear that this section of the Charter is referring to government service offices, like EI offices or tax offices, offices that supply services to the public, and that you have the right to receive such services in either English or French. What services do you get from an MP's office? None. What legitimate reason do you have to enter an MP's office? Obviously, if the public were permitted to congregate in an MP's office whenever they want just because they disagree with Conservative policies then every MP's office could simply be filled to the brim with Liberal and NDP supporters every day until they agree to resign and yield the government to them.

I think you're on pretty shaky ground here. By your reasoning, every Police office in the country is also publicly funded and should therefore be open to groups of people walking in and sitting there just because they feel like it. Go try that and see what happens. You know very well that those MP's can simply deny you entrance if they so choose and you have no recourse to the Charter at all. I know the Conservatives are a bunch of pigs and deserve such irritation but I really don't think it's legal to just walk in there any time they are open and take up space for no government services related purpose. Besides, using such crude methods of protest just makes Cannabis culture look rude and obnoxious. If that's the best you can do against the Conservatives then your cause is pretty much doomed. Sure, you accomplished be annoying to some MP's and their staff, but what is that going to achieve, besides making the average Canadian who sees these videos say something like "look how those druggies are making a nuisance of themselves again, Mildred, I sure hope Harper locks them all up, smoking dope in those offices when they are supposed to be smoke free is just plain offensive and now I hate them even more for that". It's just a bad idea really. Good way for Jacob to get his face on YouTube though, which I suspect is the true reason behind his little campaign of rudeness. Sorry, but it's really just getting tiresome now. Didn't accomplish anything the first bunch of times you did it and won't accomplish anything the 100th time you do it. I actually feel more compassion for the completely innocent office staff than I do for the intruders. What the hell did they do to deserve that, besides being dumb enough to join the Conservative Party? The MP himself doesn't even see you guys, if he's even there at the time. He's in the back nice and comfy while some poor lady has to deal with you lot barging in on her. It's just juvenile, really.

Incidentally

I hope you got signed releases from all those other people who happened to be in those offices while you were taping, and the office staff, for worldwide broadcast on YouTube. You know that's illegal otherwise, right?

reply to 'Incidentally'

You should know the law before you start quoting it.

http://ambientlight.ca/laws.php

Yeah GD, but remember...

...cops will try and BS you about the state of the law to achieve their ends. And I'm pretty damn sure that's what Anon is, by their tone.

The hostage negotiation woman -- Sgt. Lina -- for Halton actually tried telling Jacob -- on video -- that there was no medical marijuana in Ontario! (That's funny, since my inquiries show she has been trained on it. Did she really attend the briefing, or just say she did? Hmmm...)

Since I have become active in drug policy, my opinion of the police has dropped considerably. They are supposed to be acting like Officers of the Court, not street thugs.

Lying to people about the law brings the administration of justice into disrepute.

Maybe

Try taking pictures in a casino and see what happens. I don't think I would enjoy being in one of Jacob's videos just because I happened to be in the office when he invaded it for his own personal glory.

Did you notice in the video where he got pushed by the cop that he had previously chased after him while smoking a joint? He was provoking the cop. He just provokes people in order to get a reaction so he can say look how bad they are. More like look how bad HE is, using his medical exemption as an excuse to flaunt Cannabis use in cops' faces and stink up MP offices. He's an attention seeker, plain and simple. Sure his actions get attention, all negative. That's why nobody else does that shit. He just doesn't care how bad he makes Cannabis culture look. He only cares about getting on YouTube. Every time I see one of those videos I just cringe.

Law

From that page;

"Privacy Laws

The unwritten industry standard for commercial photography dictates that any identifiable person in a photograph that is sold or published should sign a model release. A location release should also be signed by the owner of any identifiable locations that are pictured.

Model and Location releases ensure that people pictured, and owners of locations pictured, release any rights they have to your image, so that if or when the photo is sold or used, the models or location owners have no right to ask for a cut of the profit (by suing you under Civil Law), or control what you can do with the photo.

However, whether this is a law or not depends on the province or territory where the photo was taken. Check each province below to see whether your province or territory has a Privacy Act (or another similar regulation or statute). Some provinces have acts which allow a person to control their image, likeness, voice or other attributes. Other provinces have no such protections. In either case, if you are taking photos for commercial purposes, get a model or location release to protect against the models or location owners suing you under Civil Law.

Regardless of province, you may photograph and publish a photo of anyone (except young offenders and photos that were taken when there is a reasonable expectation of privacy), who are newsworthy, doing newsworthy things, or are public figures, politicians, or celebrities. These people or events are in the public eye already, and publishing a photo of it is not a violation of privacy. This is possible due to exceptions in the various Privacy Laws, or lack of a Privacy Law, across the provinces and territories."

Were all the people in those offices doing newsworthy things, public figures, politicians or celebrities?

reply to Anonymous

"Were all the people in those offices doing newsworthy things, public figures, politicians or celebrities?" Anonymous

the very act of the protest is a newsworthy thing, anyone employed in the office becomes part of the news story. If a person walk into the story as it is happening they too become part of the event.

A person who does not wish to be on video should know better than to walk into an on-going protest in a public place where people are clearly protesting and filming.

They accomplished many

They accomplished many things like getting media exposure, getting the public talking about their cause and exposing Canadians to the issue. These tactics work! They got you thinking didn't they???

And if a building manager

And if a building manager shows up and claims to have the right to close the building (in defience of the Constitution), ask him if the janitor will sign your MMAR papers.

Change happens slowly There

Change happens slowly

There has been many positive outcomes from this campaign, and we are very well respected as protesters.

I am only one person, and I have have myself had one MP sit down and talk with me for over an hour, this meeting concuded with her telling me she would contact Vic Toews to ask that Canadian Citizen Marc Emery serve his time in Canada.

Also she told me that she would look further into S-10 as she agrees, Drug Prohibition has gotten us nowhere.

Then, we wait. We have been polite thus far and if the MP's act on the words they say to us, we will continue to do so.

Remember, these MP's have dealt with protesters before, and the people whose offices I have been too, support what we are doing ( Ed Fast, Dona Cadman, Alice Wong )

We're not just sitting in the office rolling joints and making their day difficult, we are there to talk.

The occupation is not "juvenile"

We tried Writing, speaking in Parliament ( Lawyers, Doctors, Drug Policy Advocates )

And they simply did not listen.

So now, we are heading straight to them to talk.

And yes, that "poor lady" In the video had a bad day, but she greeted our protesters with threats, other MP offices, who have respected our rights, spent the day discussing what we can do to fix these issues ( End Prohibition, bring Marc home.

I can understand the idea of this being juvenile, but how we are executing is far from it.

But don't confuse "Juvenile" with "Not Listening"

When we go in to the office, we are there to FORCE our rights on them. They forced them out of our hands and we are taking them back.

There is no need to be polite if they don't wish to respect my desire for personal freedom, and we won't be.

In fact, theres no need to be polite to anyone if they don't respect your desire for personal freedom.

Informative

Very informative. Thank you.
Always good to know there are legal ways of pissing these people off.
Ha ha ha.

nicely written

HHHmmmm I have thought about doing a sit-in myself since the furer and the police both hate me since they had hoped I would have killed someone by now so they could lock me up.
They tried to get me to "snap" so they could keep me under controll and they attempt to silence me from venting it all on the net by following me around hoping they find a reason to come and fool the people in my life to believing this is in my head.

Police and government workers like to hide like cowards from me and will now answer my simple questions because they are corrupt so I think I would really enjoy it and it gives me attention that the government does not want me to have or you the people just might start believing in me.

I bet it would really make thier day to see me coming into thier offices lol,I just might round up a few people and give it a whirl one day.

Nicely written post,good info to know,thanks

Animated cartoon advising end to Marijuana prohibition

http://laughingsquid.com/the-flower-an-animated-call-to-end-marijuana-prohibition/

Terrific animation that makes quite a point.

More Video Action to Help Marc

Here from Shady House Publishing Company, the publisher of "Satan's Smoke" brings you there efforts to help Marc in his situation.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marijuana-prohibition-is-unconstitutional/101009339946101#!/video/video.php?v=124868350892154&ref=mf

Re; FREEDOM ?

"Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(b)freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;"

I say WE do NOT have this in Canada as the POLICE are very POLITICAL (very ADAMANT) on the illicit drug issue and thus INTIMIDATE citizens from participating. They also use PROPAGANDA and MISINFORMATION to SELL us their plan blindsidi9ng us all since people believe OUR authorities. The new regulation changes to the C-95 Gangsterism Law that calls ALL pot dealers (100,000s of them) ORGANIZED CRIME is probably a direct result of their (criminal) LIES on these MATTERS OF PUBLIC SAFETY.

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