The Globe and Mail reported that the Harper government was getting ready to introduce legislation making it easier for citizens to make arrests. This comes in the wake of Toronto shopkeeper David Chen’s horrific experience at the hands of the Ontario criminal justice system.
What’s heartening about this announcement that, if it’s true, it could begin to put an end to abusive police and prosecutorial conduct when it comes to people defending their stores.
NDP MP Olivia Chow already introduced her Private Members Mill C-565 to amend the criminal code so that people like David Chen will not become victims of our [alleged] justice system in future.
The summary of Chow’s Private Members Bill reads:
This enactment amends the Criminal Code to give the owner or person in lawful possession of property the power to arrest without warrant a person he finds committing, or he believes has committed, a criminal offence on or in relation to that property.
This is good news. It is especially good news if the federal government wants to move forward with this. Chow has already stated publicly that she doesn’t care whether the government copies her idea or not, as long as it gets passed.
I agree. And I don’t agree with much the NDP has to say.
There are a few things that remain to be seen though.
Ontario Crown Counsel doesn’t seem to give a crap about Chen’s acquittal and claimed it set no precedent. He then said that his office would continue to prosecute store owners like Chen “on a case by case basis.” It truly boggles my mind that the Ontario Crown Counsel despises law-abiding Canadian citizens this much. I don't get it. I don't get why he feels punishing actual criminals is such a bad thing, and must be avoided at all costs, including trying to send good, productive, law-abiding citizens to jail for the "crime" of protecting themselves and their property.
Will Ottawa’s new amendment put an end to the Ontario Crown’s abusive enforcement of the law? Anyone’s guess. I’m not that hopeful, given past examples of how far the Ontario government is willing to go to abuse its own citizens.
The other thing to see is whether this amendment to the Criminal Code, if passed, will put an end to the prosecution of people like Lawrence Manzer of New Brunswick or not. Manzer was protecting his family, himself and his neighbours, and has been charged with having a “weapon dangerous to public peace”.
The Crown dropped charges of pointing a firearm when they realized they’d never be able to get a conviction on that charge, since Manzer never pointed his unloaded shotgun at anyone.
My sincere hope is that the New Brunswick Crown prosecutor’s office will come to their senses and stop prosecuting crime victims and start vigorously prosecuting the violent and dangerous offenders.
So far, though, it’s business as usual.
But if this amendment to the Criminal Code passes, there is at least hope that common sense will finally prevail in that case, as well as the case of Ian Thomson of Ontario, charged for defending himself and his home after thugs firebombed it while he was inside.
Both of these are cases that should never have gone to court in the first place, and wouldn't have if there were any common sense in our Crown prosecutors offices.