“This could only happen in Canada, the judge rules and that’s it,” said Charlie Dalgarno, past-president of the Woodstock Royal Canadian Legion.
Legion members were very upset with the ruling by Judge Marietta Roberts that set alleged swastika graffiti painter Christopher Saggau free. Saggau was accused of painting swastikas on the Victoria Park Cenotaph the night before Remembrance Day, 2009.
I’m actually surprised that Legion members were upset with Judge Roberts. She wasn’t the one who violated Christopher Saggau’s Charter Rights. That error in judgment is on the heads of Woodstock Police Department rookies Constable Henk Ruitenbeek and Constable Michael Routly.
If Legion members feel any need to be upset with someone for the case against Christopher Saggau being dismissed, they ought to direct their anger at these two rookies. It was their “insufficient regard for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms“, to quote Judge Roberts, that forced her to dismiss the case.
They should also be upset with Woodstock Police Chief Rod Freeman, who clearly has not provided proper training for the men and women under his command. Had he, his two rookie constables would have shown proper respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Had Constable Henk Ruitenbeek and Constable Michael Routly shown even an ounce of respect for Saggau’s Charter Rights, this case would NOT have been tossed, and Christopher Saggau would have been properly punished for his disgusting actions of November 10, 2009.
The Right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure is one of the fundamental rights all Canadians enjoy. It’s one of the Rights that Charlie Dalgarno and so many of his fellow Legion members fought and died for.
While they should be rightly disgusted that someone like Christopher Saggau will not be punished for his crimes, they should be rejoicing that the Rights and Freedoms they fought for were upheld.
That’s what’s important here.
Canadian police forces from coast to coast behave as though the Charter of Rights and Freedoms isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. It is judges like Judge Marietta Roberts that remind our police that this is NOT the case, that the Charter actually DOES mean something, and they must uphold it or face the consequences.
Woodstock Police Chief Rod Freeman said he does not agree with Judge Roberts’ ruling that his constables showed a callous disregard for the Charter.
“I think that’s a little hard. That was not the case. We do have the deepest respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They were conducting a reasonable investigation in good faith.”
Clearly not. All they had to do was wait for the search warrant. They chose not to, despite being told explicitly to wait for it by Sergeant Marvin Massecar.
“I told the fellas be careful how far you go, because we need to get a search warrant.”
Clearly Sgt. Massecar should have given much stronger guidance to his two rookie constables.
Maybe it’s time for “The Canadian Charter for Dummies” to become a yearly review course for every police constable in the country!
Chief Freeman says his department has learned from the mistakes made in the Saggau case.
“We will make sure mistakes made in this case won’t happen again.”
We’ll see, won’t we?
The problem is not just with the Woodstock Police Department. The RCMP has had its fair share of cases tossed because RCMP Constables violated the Charter Rights of individuals.
Recently the Toronto Police Service (TPS) has taken the lead when in this area though. They have the dubious honour of being one of the more aggressive violators of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The world witnessed their disgusting civil rights violations during the G8/G20 Summits a year ago, and more recently Ontario Superior Court Justice Susanne Goodman was so disgusted with the actions of and subsequent lies in court from Toronto Police Constables Justin Yelle and Brian Urkosky that she dismissed gun charges against Kamar Cunningham and Troy Matthews.
Justice Goodman found that Constables Justin Yelle and Brian Urkosky “outright lied in an effort to support the charges relating to guns” in court and fabricated evidence to support those lies in the hopes the case could be salvaged. To make matters worse, Constable Urkosky was Constable Yelle’s training officer! This jerk was training his new recruit how to lie, fabricate evidence and basically do whatever it takes to get a conviction, Charter Rights be damned!
I’ve never read such a scathing criticism of the actions of two police constables as I did in Justice Goodman’s written ruling in R. v Cunningham and Matthews. Throughout her judgment her disgust with these two Toronto Police Constables is palpable.
 I was satisfied that the police flagrantly and intentionally violated the defendants’ rights under both sections 8 and 9 of the Charter. They then egregiously supported their actions by providing a false account of the events leading up to it. All of this occurred during a time when one of the officers was involved in the completion of the novice officer’s training. In the particular circumstances, the evidence obtained by their actions simply could not be admitted.
Our police forces all need to be re-introduced to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Their ongoing belief that anyone not wearing a police uniform is “the enemy” has got to stop.
I can only hope and pray that rulings from judges like Judge Marietta Roberts and Justice Susanne Goodman will help pound some much-needed common sense back into our nation’s police forces.