Construction sites and highways could be protected from protestor disruptions as “critical infrastructure” areas under Bill 57, The Protection of Critical Infrastructure act, released by Justice Minister Cameron Friesen this week.
The bill defines critical infrastructure as infrastructure that makes a significant contribution to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Manitobans. It is a controversial bill as it can curtail the rights of people who gather to protest or to prevent the construction or operation of, for example, buildings, roads, highways and energy installations such as pipelines.
“The Manitoba government recognizes the rights of citizens to assemble and engage in democratic discourse including peaceful protests,” said Friesen. “We must also ensure Manitobans have access to uncompromised supplies and services, and can pursue their livelihoods unencumbered. We believe this bill strikes a good balance between the right to assemble and the need to keep the economy functioning.”
Operators or owners of infrastructure would be able to apply for a court order prohibiting interference with or access to the infrastructure, establishing a protection zone around it “if there is intention to hinder or delay construction, operation, maintenance or repair.”
To read Bill 57 click here.