Halifax artist fighting criminal charge for saying F-word at Bill C-51 protest
HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia man facing a criminal charge for shouting obscenities during a political protest says the charge makes him feel like he’s not in Canada.
Joseph Currie, 26, appeared in Halifax provincial court Wednesday following his arrest last June.
Halifax police charged Currie with causing a disturbance after he allegedly said the F-word into a megaphone – twice – during a protest against the former Conservative government’s anti-terror legislation, Bill C-51.
Currie said he doesn’t understand why he was even arrested.
“It’s typically other, more barbaric countries that crucify and punish their citizens for speaking up against unfair government policies,” Currie, an artist, told Global News.
WATCH: Video of Joseph Currie’s arrest on June 19, 2015
His lawyer, Gordon Allen, is fighting the charge on the grounds it violates Currie’s right to freedom of expression.
“I guess it goes down to this, should the criminal law be used as a shield for those who don’t wanna hear in-delicate conversation?” asks Allen, who says he’s offering his services “pro bono”, for free.
“If you said ‘golly darn, don’t like that government, people might walk by and smile, think is this guy imitating Ned Flanders, who knows? But, when you say that word, people pay attention.”
But Halifax Regional Police defended its actions.
Spokesperson Const. Dianne Woodworth said the arresting officer believed there were sufficient grounds to lay the charge, which carries a potential jail term of up to six months and/or a fine of up to 5,000 dollars.
“We had community members come up to us, to our officers and say, ‘Are you gonna stop this? My children are scared. I’m offended by this language. It’s gone too far. This needs to stop.'”
Currie declined to comment when Global News asked him if he’d use the same language, in a similar situation, in future.
His trial is scheduled to being Oct. 6.
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.