By Rob Koci
The list of those who broke the law to improve it is long and distinguished: Jesus, Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, to name but a few.
It’s called civil disobedience. Here’s Henry David Thoreau’s definition from his famous essay, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience: “A public non-violent and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies.”
I prefer a more robust definition. “Civil disobedience is the act of breaking the law, born out of necessity when said law is full of crap, destroys lives and punishes the innocent while those who defend it make it clear they won’t listen to anything else.”
But let’s stick to Thoreau on why it should happen: “If it (the law) is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine.”
With the establishment of the Ontario College of Trades, along with the pressure from the Ministry of Labour, a punitive tax regime at all levels of government and the pressure of a well-oiled, consumer friendly, cheap cash economy, legitimate contractors in that province are being put in a position where they have to thinking seriously of breaking the law to make a very important point.
I defend them.
Being illegitimate is no fun. Being on the wrong side of the law is no fun. Ask any of the esteemed law-breakers of history or read their stories. But when you become the agents of injustice by obeying the law, something’s got to give. For justice’s sake, sometimes, it’s necessary.