Canadians have the right to protest, with legal limitations that are enforced differently based upon who the protesters are and/or what they’re protesting.

In addition to selective enforcement, certain causes will see normative restrictions placed upon them. They may be told that their protest is legal, but that it’s unacceptable and they should refrain from doing it again for whatever reason. That is the case for pro-Palestine protests, which have been subjected to endless smears by media, police and politicians since October 7.

I want to go through some of the limitations on pro-Palestine protests the establishment has called for, and determine, according to their rules, where it would be acceptable for those concerned about an ongoing genocide to go and say something about it.

  1. According to MPs, provincial representatives and city councillors, protesters should not target “Jewish-owned businesses,” regardless of the reason, and even if they have nothing to do with the owner being Jewish.

  1. But people also shouldn’t protest or put up signs near “Jewish-owned businesses” or establishments even if they aren’t targeting them, according to politicians from across what constitutes the political spectrum in Canada.

  1. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken it even further, saying protests shouldn’t be held at places where Jewish people shop, which could be anywhere, so tread carefully.

  1. Trudeau also, along with many other politicians, says that protests shouldn’t be held in “Jewish neighbourhoods” or even places where Jewish people live in general. Are you a person, Jewish or otherwise, who wants to protest Israel in your neighbourhood? Too bad!

  1. But what about when you go to school? Students at the elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels beware: politicians and others don’t want you to protest on your campuses. There may be students there who feel threatened, after all, so go somewhere else.

  1. If protesters want to put pressure on their political representatives in particular, politicians say, don’t do so outside their homes. Do it somewhere more appropriate!

  1. But protesters shouldn’t confront politicians at public events, a pro-Israel lobby group says, because they may ruin them for others there.

  1. And protesters also shouldn’t do it at their constituency offices, another pro-Israel lobby group states, if they happen to be near any of the places listed above.

So, where does that leave? Where do many politicians, mainstream media outlets and police officers think pro-Palestine protesters should be allowed to gather? Surely the majority of them don’t outright call for a ban on any Palestine protest, right? 

Correct. They generally seem to agree that you can protest the Israeli government outside Israeli embassies and consulates. These buildings are only located in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, so I guess the rest of the country is out of luck.

But those three cities still have millions of people, so that’s pretty good, right? Not quite. 

Israel’s consulate in Toronto is located very close to many “Jewish-owned businesses,” including Indigo, so I guess that’s off limits. 

Israel’s consulate in Montreal is located near a synagogue and a Jewish religious centre, so you can’t go there either.

That leaves Israel’s embassy in Ottawa. It seems to avoid all of the limitations above. But just don’t use words like “intifada” or slogans like “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” while you’re protesting.

Avoid all of that, and you’re fine. Maybe. For now. And remember, you have the right to protest!