MacKay’s Bill C-36 Proposes Change to Definition of “weapon” in Criminal Code

Justice-Minister-Peter-Mackays-Bill-C-36-Unintended-Consequences

Todd Brown recently examined Justice Minister Peter MacKay's proposed Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford.

What he found scared the crap out of him.

The proposed change to the criminal code definition of "weapon" is not thought out properly. It leaves Canadians open to prosecution for all kinds of benign objects should police decide to get creative with the law. As we know all this happens in Canada far more regularly than we would like.

The unintended consequences of this definition change are serious and I join with Todd Brown in asking you to write your own MP, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney to educate them about the pitfalls of the proposed legislation as it stands today.

Here is why.

Under Bill C-36, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, Minister of Justice Peter MacKay proposes to revise the definition of ‘weapon' in the Criminal Code of Canada.

First, the current definition of "weapon" in the Criminal Code of Canada:

"weapon" means any thing used, designed to be used or intended for use
(a) in causing death or injury to any person, or
(b) for the purpose of threatening or intimidating any person
and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, includes a firearm;

In Bill C-36 Peter MacKay proposes to add the following:

"for the purpose of sections 88, 267, and 272, any thing used, designed to be used or intended for use in binding or tying up a person against their will;"

So the entire definition of ‘weapon' would read;

"weapon" means any thing used, designed to be used or intended for use
(a) in causing death or injury to any person, or
(b) for the purpose of threatening or intimidating any person
and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, includes a firearm and, for the purpose of sections 88, 267, and 272, any thing used, designed to be used or intended for use in binding or tying up a person against their will;

To understand the unintended consequences of this new definition you must realize the current definition of "weapon" is based on how an object is used, not what it that weapon is, with the exception of firearms. (Todd Brown already wrote an excellent analysis of "weapon" vs "firearm" in Weapon vs Firearm – Definitions from our Criminal Code, Part 1 and Weapon vs Firearm – Definitions from our Criminal Code, Part 2)

A weapon is defined as an object used with criminal intent. It does not specify the object itself.

This is a critical point. Any object is a weapon if used with criminal intent.

MacKay's proposed change would define a ‘weapon' as a specific group of objects that could be used in ‘binding or tying up a person', potentially criminalising everything from handcuffs to zip ties, including rope, twine, computer cables, or even extension cords. This is where unintended consequences rear their ugly heads.

As Todd Brown wrote on Facebook,

Imagine this logic brought into divorce court proceedings, or being arrested for having rope or zip ties in your possession, ‘possession of a weapon', then having to prove to a court that you had no criminal intent. The possibilities for legal persecution are endless.

While the intent of this change may be based on good intentions, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Todd Brown has a solution to solve this problem.

It is simple, elegant and consistent with Minister MacKay's original intent.  It removes any defined ‘objects' from the definition of ‘weapon'.

Here is Todd Brown's proposed change:

"weapon" means any thing used, designed to be used or intended for use
(a) in causing death or injury to any person, or
(b) for the purpose of threatening, intimidating or restraining any person
and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, includes a firearm;

As you can see, Mr. Brown added just 2 words to the existing definition of "weapon".

This simple wording change accomplishes the goal Peter MacKay set out to solve yet does not open up Canadians to unintended consequences and possible malicious prosecutions.

As I said at the outset of this article, write your own MP, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney to educate them about the pitfalls of the proposed legislation as it stands today.

Ask them to amend Bill C-36 to reflect Todd Brown's solution to the definition of "weapon".

Criminal law should be specific. It should capture the narrowest field possible. The current version of Bill C-36 casts a very wide net and will, like Canada's Firearms Act and other poorly written laws, catch a lot of people Minister MacKay never intended.

Todd Brown's solution solves that problem.

Please send me a copy of your letter to our politicians. With your permission I will post all letters I receive to the Canadian Rights and Freedom Blog so others can use them as examples when drafting their own letters to Justice Minister MacKay, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and their own Member of Parliament.

We can solve this issue but we must act now.

One thought on “MacKay’s Bill C-36 Proposes Change to Definition of “weapon” in Criminal Code

  1. How about a regulation banning any legal official in any capacity (judge, justice, policeman, etc) from being a member of the religion of political correctness and simultaneously being in capacity in the justice system, as it predisposes them to discrimination, prejudice and bigotry against non politically correct members of society such as gun owners, Chritians, hunters, pro-lifers, etc. Call it the “Anti Fascist Bill of Common Sense”.

    Enough of all this other bs law making.

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