Posts Tagged ‘bad laws’

Defend yourself at your peril

December 19, 2010

The following information was sent to me regarding a case that will be going to court in Ontario. It has had no media attention to date, although the initial arson attack may have been reported in the local newspaper, although I wasn’t able to find any reference when I did a search.

A Port Colborne man was forced to flee his burning home at night this past August as three masked men threw burning Molotov Cocktails through his windows and shouted that he was dead.

He apparently has now received a Christmas present from the Welland Crown Attorney’s office in the guise of a special delivery complete with police notes and a screening sheet where the Crown indicates it wants to prosecute him to the full extent of the law and is asking for jail time.

His crime? He tried to defend himself from his attackers.

The gentleman in question has had neighbour problems and has received death threats from his neighbour, who was charged but never received any jail time.

In fear of his life the man installed, at the cost of $20,000, a video surveillance camera which did capture the Molotov Cocktail attack and him escaping his burning home as the fire bombers continued to shout they would kill him.

He was also on video allegedly shooting a pistol in an attempt to drive the attackers away.

He was charged under section 86 and was led to believe the charges would be dropped, but in a surprise move in late November another section 86 and a section 88 charge were laid. Now the official position is the Crown counsel wants to lock him away.

The man had been injured at work and is now a full time student at Brock University studying Environment Engineering.

His guns are licensed and registered, but since August they have been seized by the police leaving him at risk for another attack.

The police have not apprehended the fire bombers although believe they can charge two of them but will not do so until all three are known.

The Ontario Fire Marshal told him he was the subject of an attempted murder and he is, with good reason, still in fear of his life.

I really wonder what the police and the prosecutor expected this guy to do? Stay inside and have the house burned down around him? Go out unarmed and confront three thugs who are shouting death threats at him?

The police ‘believe’ they can charge two of the attackers but won’t until the third one is known? It would be interesting to have that explained in rational terms.

The police and the bureaucracy seem far more inclined to put the full force of the law against the victim rather than the perpetrators.

I guess the question is: What in hell has this country come to?

Maybe the answer is that we have allowed our politicians and bureaucrats to write stupid and restrictive laws that allow our justice system to find a crime in almost anything you do. The police love it and many private citizens often support these kind of laws because they think it will only be applied to the ‘bad guys’. But when they innocently run afoul of these laws they are dragged away screaming, ‘it’s not supposed to work this way’. Well yes, that’s exactly what it was meant to do.

Sure, this fellow may get into court and find an intelligent judge who recognizes the injustice and dismisses the charges. But that might be two or three years down the road and $20,000 later in legal fees. Plus the police will have had his firearms in storage for that time and even if he gets off from the charges he will have to fight some more to get the police to give them back, because they are going to want to destroy them.  And 5 will get you 10 that the guys who torched his house and threatened his life – if they have been charged at all – will have walked and will probably be laughing up their sleeves about how ‘justice’ works these days.

Read the detail (below) on Sections 86 and 88 of the criminal code to see how the weasel words allow the police and the prosecutors to proceed with charges on subjective interpretations.

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Note:
Section 86.(1) Careless Use Of A Firearm – Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, uses, carries, handles, ships, transports or stores a firearm, prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition in a careless manner or without reasonable precautions for the safety of other persons.
(2) Contravention Of Storage Regulations Etc. - Every person commits an offence who contravenes a regulation made under paragraph 117(h) of the Firearms Act respecting the storage, handling, transportation, shipping, display, advertising and mailorder sales of firearms and restricted weapons.
(3) Punishment – Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (2)
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment
(1) in the case of a first offence, for a term not exceeding two years, and
(11) in the case of a second or subsequent offense, for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Section 88.(1) Possession Of Weapon For Dangerous Purpose
– Every person commits an offence who carries or possesses a weapon, an imitation of a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition for a purpose dangerous to the public peace or for the purpose of committing an offence.

(2) Punishment – Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1)
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

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Repeal bad, dumb and redundant laws

June 15, 2010

I have proposed something similar to this for years.

Kansas GOP gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback is proposing an “Office of the Repealer,” tasked with seeking out bad or repetitive laws, wasteful programs, and archaic state agencies for elimination. As a general rule, the media venerates politicians who propose new government programs as bold and visionary, while anyone daring to suggest perhaps there might be cause to eliminate an agency or two is depicted as some fringe draconian nut. Or just quaint and silly.

My suggestion is slightly different: For every new law that is passed an existing law must be written off the books. Although I think Brownback’s proposal is more pro-active.

Mind you, I still have fond thoughts of our recent proroguing of parliament, which kept the politicians out of parliament for at least a short time and at least delayed the addition of more legislation to the books.

Why we get stupid laws and regulations

April 16, 2010

On numerous occasions I have belaboured the point that we get laws on the books that really make no sense from a practical point of view and those laws have just ended up there because lawmakers need to look as though they are “doing something” to solve a perceived problem.

Not necessarily always a real problem, but something that the public or the government perceives to be a problem. Or even worse, a non-existent problem that is manufactured to serve someone’s personal agenda.

Case in point: The Nova Scotia government’s stated intention to place a bounty on coyotes in the province.

But first, some background:

Back in October 2009 a 19 year old girl – Taylor Mitchell, a folk singer from Toronto – was attacked and killed by coyotes while hiking in Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Highland National Park.

That certainly put the spotlight on to the coyote population in the province and complaints came in that coyotes were getting much bolder around humans.

In January 2010, there was a complaint from a man who felt threatened by a pair of coyotes that approached aggressively.

All of this apparently has spooked the provincial government in to believing that they now need to do something to show that they have the situation under control. Their solution – at least their stated solution – is to bring in a bounty on coyotes in the province.

Five months after a young woman was mauled to death by coyotes on a Cape Breton trail, the Nova Scotia government is poised to offer trappers a bounty for the animals to ease fears they are becoming more aggressive.

John MacDonell, the province’s natural resources minister, said Wednesday he has to act because of three additional reports of close encounters with coyotes within the past week. A final decision is expected Friday.

“It’s better to be pro-active and assume that it would help a little rather than do nothing and worry about somebody possibly being hurt by these animals,” he said in an interview.

Which would be fine and dandy if there was any proof that a bounty system would solve the problem. A lot of people think it’s hokum.

But the head of the province’s Federation of Anglers and Hunters said a bounty would be a waste of taxpayers’ money, motivated by politics rather than science.

Tony Rodgers, the federation’s executive director, said MacDonell should think twice about the controversial move.

“It cannot be based on emotion,” Rodgers said. “This is part of the problem we’ve experienced in past years when politicians started making biological decisions. They haven’t got it right yet.”

He said killing more coyotes won’t make them more afraid of humans.

“No message will be sent back to the rest of the pack,” he said, adding the money for the bounty should instead be used to educate Nova Scotians on how to reduce confrontations with wild animals.

And:

….. Rodgers said it’s a mistake to think the province’s 8,000 coyotes are getting more aggressive.

He said the real problem is that one of the coyote’s main sources of food, the snowshoe hare, is at the bottom of a seven-year population cycle and hungry coyotes are simply looking for food.

As well, biologists within MacDonell’s own department have confirmed bounties are ineffective. A provincial bounty introduced in 1982 was removed four years later when it became clear it had no impact on coyote populations.

“It totally flies in the face of what his department has been saying for years,” said Rodgers.

R.A. Lautenschlager, executive director of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, said targeting individual animals that pose a threat to humans, rather than all coyotes, is a better approach.

“That’s one of the problems with bounties – there’s not necessarily any selection,” he said from his office in Sackville, N.B.

But here’s the rub -

MacDonell confirmed he is planning to offer a bounty worth about $20 to members of Trappers’ Association of Nova Scotia, whose members caught 1,900 coyotes last year without a bounty.

While he conceded that a bounty would have little impact on the coyote population, he stressed that he felt compelled to do something. (emphasis added)

“I have a concern over who might be attacked or hurt or mauled,” he said. “I know (residents) are not going to call the head of the anglers and hunters if that happens – I’m going to get that call. It’s my responsibility to be more pro-active.”

He said he hopes a bounty will change the coyotes behaviour.

So the Minister actually believes that the bounty will have little effect on coyote behaviour.

But to cover his ass for future indiscretions on the part of their little provincial predator he is willing to use taxpayers dollars to put in place a job enhancement program for the benefit of local trappers.

Knowing how governments seem to work everywhere, that will probably be the full extent of the program.

There is never money available to analyse and assess whether the program is effective and it is unlikely that the trappers would be able to operate in a National Park where the initial tragedy took place anyway.

As well, these laws are rarely set up with end dates, so the bounty program would no doubt carry on long past any reasonable time frame.

In the end it would be a cash cow for the trapping fraternity, who would be guaranteed an extra $20 for every coyote they trapped on top of the fur value. Which certainly would help keep their personal wolves away from the door.

BUT – The politicians will have DONE SOMETHING.

And that’s how we get dumb and useless laws on the books.


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