Judge says RCMP violated their rights, tosses drug case citing Charter violations

Let me first state that if you came here expecting to read me bashing the RCMP over another Charter violation, you're going to be disappointed.  You are correct in your presumption that when I'm writing about the RCMP and Charter violations, it's usually to tear a strip off them for blatantly disregarding the Charter.

That's usually the way it goes, and I stand behind every one of those articles holding the RCMP to the standard to which they should be held to.

This time, though, it's the judge who appears to be out to lunch and not the RCMP.  Did the RCMP do everything 100% by the book? No, they did not.

That being said, my reasoning for disagreeing with the judge in this case will be made clear by the time I'm done.  First, a little background to get you up to speed...

A 14-month investigation into an [alleged] Ecstasy manufacturing plant in Richmond, British Columbia culminated in a search of four homes and one vehicle.  The Richmond BC RCMP's Drug Squad had done their homework and knew who they were after and why.

A group of men had been producing vast amounts of the drug Ecstasy and shipping it across Canada.

I'll stay out of the debate over the "War on Drugs" except to say that if someone wants to poison themselves and ruin their lives, they ought to be free to do so.  Legislating morality has never worked in the history of Man.  Prohibitions simply don't work, not even inside maximum security prisons, so why we continue blindly to believe they can work outside prisons seems pretty insane to me.

That aside out of the way, the manufacture and distribution of drugs is against the law today.  The RCMP was doing their best to enforce that law when they expended 18 months in their investigation of Tin Lik Ho, Qing Hou, Shao Wei Huang, Yi Feng Kevin Li and Kai Lai Kyle Zhou and their Ecstasy production ring.

When the RCMP members discovered evidence that the group may have found out they were under surveillance, those members immediately asked for and received Tele-Warrants for the search of four homes and one vehicle.

Tele-warrants are generally only issued in circumstances where the time delay in requesting a warrant in person might reasonably be believed to jeopardize the evidence they are after.   I say "generally", because like all things, there are those in police forces across the nation who will abuse those rules.

From what I can tell, that is NOT the case here.  They had discovered evidence of what appeared to be the hasty dismantling of the drug lab.  Waiting until the courthouse opened three hours or so later would clearly allow the alleged criminals time to dispose of most if not all of the evidence of their crimes.

The request of the RCMP members in this case is certainly reasonable by that standard.  At least in my view.

Nobody questions the fact that the accused were caught in possession of millions of dollars worth of illegal drugs and drug manufacturing equipment.  These were clearly men who made their living off of the illegal drug trade, and made a healthy living from it indeed.

Where the case appears to break down from Judge Meyers' point of view is that the alleged offenders were not read their rights in their native language, Mandarin.  They were read their rights in English, one of Canada's two official languages.

Judge Meyers, in his judgment, wrote:

[77]      Li did not testify on the voir dire but when Cst. Summer testified, he said that after he read all of the Charter Rights to Li in English, he asked Li if he understood and Li said “No”.  Cst. Summer agreed that Li seemed to have a very difficult time with English and thought that he probably only understood bits and pieces of English.  Cst. Summer said that he did not seek out an interpreter to help explain Li’s Rights to him.

[78]      The police investigation of the “ecstasy ring” extended over a 14 month period.  By the end of that time, the police had a pretty good idea that one or more of the people who they would be accosting, detaining and arresting, would have English as their (very distant) second language and could have significant difficulty, understanding, speaking and reading English, especially when it involved the complicated wording used in explaining the Charter Rights to an Accused.

 

This is where I come to my disagreement with the judge, and with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, actually, to be honest.

If a person is going to move to a foreign country, it is the responsibility of the individual to learn the language of that country.  That would be common sense.  If I'm moving to Italy, I'm an idiot if I'm not willing to at least learn enough Italian to get me by.

Same goes if I decide to move to China.  If I am unwilling to learn even basic Mandarin, then I'm an idiot, and I cannot hold the Chinese police responsible for my self-inflicted ignorance.

The same applies to immigrants from around the world who move to Canada.  Here we speak two languages officially, English and French.  If you're going to live anywhere in Canada outside La Belle Province then it's incumbent upon you to learn English if you expect to actually communicate with the rest of us.

That includes the police.

To demand that police have on hand, when serving a search warrant, someone who speaks every possible language they might encounter is ridiculous, absurd and yes, even moronic.

Rulings like this one from Judge Meyers is stupid and simply panders to the notion that immigrants to Canada have no need to actually integrate into Canadian society.

That is, to overuse the phrase, utterly moronic and absurd.

The judge blasted Corporal Dan Michaud, the man in charge of the investigation, as well.

[260]     The RCMP Officer in Charge of the investigation was Cpl. Michaud and he must accept the responsibility for leading an investigation that ignored and flaunted the Accuseds’ Charter of Rights, and did so consistently over a 14 month period.

While Corporal Dan Michaud may be guilty of other things, like his actions that led to charges of obstruction in the Surrey 6 murder case, I find it laughable that the judge can make the accusation that he "ignored and flaunted" the Charter Rights of these individuals.

I'm getting tired of writing "absurd"...

The folks on Blue Line forum (from the publishers of the great Blue Line Magazine) feel pretty much the same.  Here's a sampling of the comments from that forum, made up primarily of law-enforcement:

Canada was a much better place to live when people cherished their freedom because they knew they had earned it through the execution of their personal responsibilities. Now, all anyone has are 'rights' without the responsibility and the corresponding sense of civic pride/duty. The charter killed what made Canada great - Civic responsibility - and replaced it with the culture of entitlement that we see today.

***

So the fact that these guys had *ELEVEN* pill presses on the premises didn't count for anything?

Does every tactical response team in BC now have to have a squad of interpreters able to speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Urdu, Punjabi, and all the other languages that are present on the Island and the mainland? :ponder:

I thought as a resident of this country you had to be able to understand at least one of our two official languages. On the off chance that you don't, then there has to be a reasonable timeframe to engage what limited language assistance resources we do have, to find an interpreter for you......... not bring them on the f**king raid of the premises!

At what point did the Charter supersede common sense? F***K

***

Sounds like there might have been a few hiccups in the case but nothing so major that tossing all the charges was the only remedy available. Not reading R&W in Chinese isn't 'roughshod'. Amazing work by a stellar judge who has the best interests of Canadians at heart. :cry:

That's just from a few of the folks on the Blue Line forum...

I can't say that I disagree with a single one of them.

But I'm not the judge, and neither are they.  To quote one final commenter at the Blue Line forum,

"long-term implication for the repute of the administration of justice, and no the public’s short-term desire for a conviction"

So the judge can't even construct a gramatically correct sentence, and he's qualified to make rulings like this? FAIL.

Again, hard to argue with the commenter about the lack of common sense of Judge Meyers.

That doesn't even get to the worst of his ruling, however.  Tossing out the charges against these people for the so-called violation of their rights, he also said the following:

[82]      In advance of executing the Warrants, the police ought to have made, at least some of these preparations:

(i)     have had the Search Warrants translated into Chinese characters (which characters are the same for Mandarin or Cantonese);

(ii)    have had the “arrest scripts” that they would be reading in English, also printed in Chinese characters, on paper or cards, for the detainees to read;

(iii)  have had both Mandarin and Cantonese speaking police, either as part of the arrest team or on “stand by” to be called over as soon as it became apparent that they had even one person under arrest, who was not sufficiently capable of understanding English;

(iv)   have had arranged for both Cantonese and Mandarin speaking interpreters, to be waiting outside the residences or at the very least, to be on “stand by”, so they could quickly call upon them to assist in explaining to the detainees, in a language which they could understand, that the police had a Search Warrant; that the Search Warrant was issued by a Justice; what charges they were facing; why their houses were being searched; explain to them their right to call a private lawyer or a free Legal Aid lawyer; explain their right to consult with the lawyer in private; explain their right to remain silent should they choose to do so; explain their right to have an interpreter present if they did not understand English sufficiently.

[83]      The police did none of the foregoing.  In this case, the only preparation the police had made for the probable language difficulties, was to have one Mandarin speaking police officer on duty...

 

I find it appalling that judges like this can sit in their ivory towers, completely cut off from reality, and demand that the world conform to their own bizarre notions of how things ought to be.

If an immigrant moves to this country and chooses NOT to learn the languages we speak here, then police clearly should be allowed a reasonable period of time to find someone who can cater to that individual in their native tongue.   It was, after all, their choice not to bother to learn the language of their new country, not the requirement of the police to pander to every language on the planet when enforcing the law in Canada.

Judge Meyers, you need a very strong dose of reality, because you're completely out to lunch in this case.

To quote one final member of the Blue Line forum...

If they don't speak or understand english then how could they make any statements which would incriminate themselves? What is the point of reading them their rights immediately at the scene if they aren't even able to incriminate themselves by making statements that could be understood by the officers at the scene? What is the problem with having an interpreter once they return to the station?

 

That is a very good question.

Judge Meyers... care to offer us any more of your wisdom?

4 thoughts on “Judge says RCMP violated their rights, tosses drug case citing Charter violations

  1. Good Morning chris, I understand you point here but at times the RCMP drag there heels on items. I have been to courthouses and watched as the line up of victims who can ill afford a lawyer, struggle to find out about legal issues and forms and all the douments which they have to pay for , very costly to be a victim. No one helps and the fees add up . then I see the criminals get free attorneys. there is no deterrant for criminals so even if as above they get caught a free lawyer is waiting. It seems you have 2 choices under this system, to be a criminal or a victim. Is this a country or a crime scene

  2. Visible minorities are given special considerations in Canada, especially those people of Chinese origin. After all, China owns Canada, and Canada wouldn’t want to do anything to offend the owners’ feelings, would we?

    Police are hamstrung when dealing with minorities.

    When white Canadians hit the streets in protest, menacing-looking police have license to wade in forcibly with their tools of the trade, hopefully staying within the bounds of law, to break up the sign-waving, chanting, singing crowds.

    But sometimes in the process, the police overstep the protesters’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

    On the other hand, when a bunch of unruly minorities start busting out windows, setting fires to real and personal property and threatening to kill whoever they are protesting, or otherwise make complete nuisances of themselves, the police have to stand down and standby, basically to protect the minorities in case a throng of opposing whites decides to take ‘em on in a contest.

    If a white civilian were perceived threatening to kill somebody, he’d be in shackles in a split second.

    How about the case of a Sikh man slaying 10 people in Vernon, B.C., about 1995, before turning the legitimately-owned handgun on himself?

    The family had told the RCMP twice about the man threatening his estranged wife. This information was duly recorded. But no action was taken because, according to the RCMP, he was a Sikh!

    Their hands were tied.

    The wife was probably too frightened to press charges against her estranged husband. And, in their past experience, police had been denied their requests to relieve a visible minority of guns.

    So the police did not go to the judge to get the necessary papers to relieve the Sikh of his pistols for at least a temporary period until the situation cooled down–which wasn’t apt to happen. Not that being relieved of his guns and a prohibition order placed on him by a court would have stopped the man from acquiring other guns to go on his killing spree sooner.

    So, if the laws are on the books in the form of Canada’s Criminal Code but the police are not allowed to enforce those laws with visible minorities–only enforce the laws on white Canadians–then the wheels have fallen off the whole so-called Justice department cum court system.

    It is beyond-the-pale insanity too even consider translating Canada’s laws and constitution into every conceivable language spoken or written around the world–some so obscure as to be spoken by less than 50 people–just because those people might migrate to Canada someday as residents and be involved in unlawful deeds.

    Before that program is instigated, Canada would be better advised to translate all the laws and the constitution into every language used by Canada’s indigenous Indian and Inuit populations. That would keep translators busy and Canada broke for the next hundred years before making every language in the world quasi-official.

    Mon Dieu! Maybe there is some validity into considering changing over to Esperanto, an artificial language devised in 1887 as an international medium of communication. Oops! Sorry. That will never do. Esperanto is based on roots from the chief European languages–not pictures from the written Chinese languages.

    Let’s just go back to the tenet “When in Rome do as the Romans do.”

    When immigrants come into Canada, they are duty-bound to behave themselves and to communicate in English sufficiently enough to be able to find gainful employment. After all, to fuel a workforce is the purported reason Canada benevolently imports 250,000 foreigners annually–the highest rate in the world.

    Refugees who speak no English or anybody who does not speak the language adequately but they are eager to learn because they want to live in Canada are given ample opportunities to attend free ESL (English as a Second Language) classes at community or literacy centres. Sometimes, corporations generously sponsor such on-site classes whereby the employees are actually paid to attend as part of their workday duties.

    However, I’d be willing to bet a dime to a doughnut that one if not all the members of the Ecstasy Production Gang of Five–on which the police wasted 18 months on an intensive investigation just to be frustrated by having a judge throw it out because the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and search warrant were not available in Dick and Jane picture-book characters–could communicate adequately in English.

    How else do you avoid the clutches of the law for an undetermined amount of time while running a highly-successful financial business in Canada where you must communicate with many of your customers in English…unless the Main Five had English-speaking couriers who made the contacts. If so, they were complicit in the unlawful act and should have been indicted, too, if for no other reason than to translate for their bosses.

    Don’t kid yourself. Somebody in this chain of command spoke/wrote adequate English.

    That case was more likely dismissed from court by Judge Meyers because of a ploy submitted by a clever lawyer who advised his clients to go incommunicado and act unresponsive when spoken to in English.

  3. I wish that Judges would throw out all drug charges, the Government is not supposed to be waging war against its own citizens. The Government has no business interfering in peoples private lives.

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