Alberta town’s morality bylaw still much ado about nothing

The bylaw inspired a Youtube campaign to have Kevin Bacon come to Taber for an illegal dance party protest.
The bylaw inspired a Youtube campaign to have Kevin Bacon come to Taber for an illegal dance party protest. (Photo: iStock)

If you haven’t heard about the Taber, Alta., morality bylaw, here is the gist of it: it forbids people to gather in groups of three or more in a public place.

The bylaw sought to prevent behaviour that involved spitting, screaming and swearing, which is thought to target Mennonite teenagers who gather in large groups after church on Sundays.

When the law was introduced last year the town was ridiculed. It gained national attention for the new bylaw and as police chief Graham Abela told the Calgary Herald,social media and other media grabbed hold of it and took it to places it didn’t need to go.”

The new bylaw even inspired a Youtube campaign to have Kevin Bacon come to Taber for an illegal dance party protest, like his character in the film Footloose. Needless to say, Bacon has yet to set foot in Taber.

The media weren’t the only ones raising an uproar, as lawyers denounced the new bylaw due to issues of constitutionality. The charter states that everyone has the freedom of peaceful assembly and association. Given this bylaw restricts people from meeting publicly in groups of more than three, it could potentially face a challenge in court and be declared unconstitutional. That is if someone were to challenge it.

One Taber resident commented, “Nothing ever came of the bylaw”.

Indeed, it seems that nothing really has changed as people are still meeting in the Taber Wal-Mart parking lot on a Sunday afternoon, still talking and smoking while sitting on the backs of their pickup trucks. Police have yet to issue tickets for violating the bylaw.

The point of all of this? As Kevin Bacon’s character in Footloose said: let’s (gather and) dance!

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