Busking is the act of playing music in a public place for voluntary donations. This activity has never before been legal in the little town of Jasper in the heart of Jasper National Park, Canada. I have long lobbied the municipal government to allow busking, a common activity in so many towns and cities all across the country and indeed the world. Just a few weeks ago, in early July 2016, the last of the legal hoops were jumped and buskers were  finally able to start entertaining the tourists and residents of Jasper, in exchange for a few earnings. Imagine my surprise then, when my request for a busking permit was declined.

Relevant Personal History

I have lived here for 35 years. I have donated my music to countless fundraisers, have played regularly for the residents in the seniors home, have played in the schools, at community dinners and at special events, always happy to volunteer my time. The community has appreciated my music, and I loved giving it.

But now that I have dared go to the forbidden land of Holohoax, at just about the same time that it became legal to busk, I have been forbidden to do so. They do not like my opinions, so they are trying to silence my violin. I should note that I have never used my “violin stage” in the community as a “soap box” to talk about the latest issues on my mind. Are they worried that I might stand on the street corner with my megaphone and shout out dangerous truths? Or are they just amplifying the process of ritual defamation?

My letter to the person in charge of issuing busking permits.

To: Dave Baker (betabake@hotmail.com);
copies to: Mayor Richard Ireland (rireland@town.jasper.ab.ca); and councillors:
gwall@town.jasper.ab.ca; varsenault@town.jasper.ab.ca; rdamota@town.jasper.ab.ca;
hkempey@town.jasper.ab.ca; bnesbitt@town.jasper.ab.ca; dwacko@town.jasper.ab.ca

Dave Baker
Habitat for the Arts

5 August 2016

Dear Dave,

Thank you very much for showing me yesterday exactly where you stand on the issue of my busking permit. Before having finally seen you face-to-face for the first time this summer, I had given you the benefit of the doubt. I believed that surely someone else is whispering in your ear, giving you direction. I believed that, because I did not recognize the Dave Baker that I have known since many years, in the curt email which you sent on 23rd July 2016, quoted here:

“We have considered your application for a busking permit in Jasper. In light of your recently publicly proclaimed non-inclusive beliefs we have decided to decline a permit to you at this time….Please see the attached Values and Principles statement.”

The hostility with which you treated me yesterday, at the “soft opening” of the new library-and-arts facility, gave me quite a clear picture. It became much more obvious to me that it must indeed be you who has made the decision to arbitrarily deny me a busking permit. Your attitude was belligerent and quite frankly, cowardly.

You and I have been generous with each other and with the community in the countless endeavours that we have participated in and shared over the years. Is that all forgotten? It seems you have left your humanity behind.

You have designated yourself judge, jury, prosecutor, and enforcer all at once, on a spurious assumption that I am guilty of a crime, when in fact I am acting in good conscience to rectify past wrongs. My actions are based on my new understanding that the Hollywood version of history we have been taught is indeed full of factual errors.

You made it perfectly clear that answers are not forthcoming to my two questions which I asked in my email of August 1st quoted here:

“There has been a stunning silence from you since the cursory email you sent me on July 23rd, 2016 … I am wondering who you are accountable to, and who the “we” refers to in your (original) message to me. These are two very important questions and I expect that you will be forthcoming with an answer to these…. Monika”

I asked those questions again yesterday, peacefully and in person, and you repeatedly told me “I will not discuss this here, I will not discuss this now. This is a sacred place.” So I asked when and where? When would the answers be coming? Could we set up a meeting please? You then told me point blank You – already – have – the – only – answer – that – you – will – get.

I see… final judgement has been made, and the proverbial jail key has been tossed out.

My first question was about accountability. I received a partial answer from the cover of this week’s Fitzhugh newspaper. The caption under the front-page picture of happy buskers says “Music in the Streets… thanks to a new pilot-project between the municipality and Habitat for the Arts.” For that reason I am sending this to all the town councillors and mayor, as they have a role to play in this. Are they also playing the role of thought police?

The Habitat “Values and Principles” statement is very good. The second paragraph follows (emphases mine), to show the absurdity of your accusation of “non-inclusive beliefs” against me. I contend it is you who is being non-inclusive.

“We believe that learning never stops
We know it enhances social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development.
We embrace new challenges and ideas.
We welcome new methods and change.
We help each other grow through knowledge exchange and support.

Dave Baker, since you do not want to talk with me, then you simply become part of the wider story. My bcc list is growing ever larger, as more and more people from around the world are taking an interest in this story. It is beginning to look like this pretty little town in a National Park and a World Heritage Site is becoming a leader in the totalitarian anti-free-speech direction that Canada is taking.

Monika Schaefer