Archive for July, 2010

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair Runs True To Form

July 3, 2010

TO Police Chief Bill Blair fell off my list of credible people a long time ago, even before the stupid and uninformed statements he made while arguing in support of the long-gun registry and against Bill C-391, the private member’s legislation aimed at dumping it.

He once again shows his true colours in the wake of the G20 summit in Toronto.

Toronto’s police chief is admitting there never was a five-metre rule that had people fearing arrest if they strayed too close to the G20 security perimeter.

Civil libertarians were fuming after hearing Friday that the Ontario cabinet gave police the power to stop and search anyone coming within five metres of the G20 fences in Toronto for a one-week period.

However, the Ministry of Community Safety says all the cabinet did was update the law that governs entry to such places as court houses to include specific areas inside the G20 fences — not outside.

A ministry spokeswoman says the change was about property, not police powers, and did not include any mention of a zone five metres outside the G20 security perimeter.

When asked Tuesday if there actually was a five-metre rule given the ministry’s clarification, Chief Bill Blair smiled and said, “No, but I was trying to keep the criminals out.”

Then, in what seems to have become a standard police media event, the Toronto police laid out a table showing what they purported to be ‘weapons’ that they had confiscated from activists at the event. However, as is often the case in these show and tell events, it turns out that there was a bit of fudging going on.

Toronto Police staged a display of weaponry to demonstrate “the extent of the criminal conspiracy” among hard-line G20 protesters, but several of the items had nothing to do with the summit.

Facing criticism for their tactics, police invited journalists on Tuesday to view a range of weapons, from a machete and baseball bat to bear spray and crowbars.

Chief Bill Blair, who told reporters the items were evidence of the protesters’ intent, singled out arrows covered in sports socks, which he said were designed to be dipped in a flammable liquid and set ablaze.

However, the arrows belong to Brian Barrett, a 25-year-old landscaper who was heading to a role-playing fantasy game when he was stopped at Union Station on Saturday morning. Police took his jousting gear but let Mr. Barrett go, saying it was a case of bad timing


Police also displayed a crossbow and chainsaw seized in an incident on Friday that they said had no ties to the summit. When asked, Chief Blair acknowledged they were unrelated, but said “everything else” had been confiscated from demonstrators.

On Wednesday, however, Michael Went and Doug Kerr e-mailed a letter to Chief Blair saying their bamboo poles may have been included in the exhibit. As they headed to a picnic to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots on Sunday morning, police seized seven or eight of the long poles, citing the G20 summit. The couple had planned to use the poles to fly a rainbow flag and decorate the park.

“It makes you wonder what are the other things that they’ve displayed [that] were taken from people on the street that weren’t doing anything wrong?” asked Mr. Kerr, a 42-year-old management consultant.

Julian Falconer, a Toronto lawyer representing four independent journalists in summit-related police complaints, called the display of unrelated objects a “public-relations exercise [that] borders on the absurd.”

The items, which were laid out on tables in the lobby of police headquarters, also included gas masks, cans of spray paint, a replica gun, saws, pocket knives, a staple gun, a drill, a slingshot, chains and handcuffs. However, there were also objects not normally considered dangerous, including bandanas, skateboard and bicycle helmets, golf balls, tennis balls, goggles, rope and walkie-talkies.

OK, well some of the stuff was legit! But then if they’d taken away the phony items the table wouldn’t have been so impressive looking.

(Thanks to Mark Steyn for pointing me to some of this.)


Surprising news: Bad guys do bad things

July 1, 2010

It was a great plan.

To stop the wrong people from obtaining firearms and ammunition it was writ in law that a citizen would have to be vetted by the government in order to qualify for ownership; specifically through obtaining a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL). This would ensure that only those anointed by the bureaucracy, through testing and background checks, would obtain the government-given right to own and use guns.

Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way, although the powers that be assiduously worked to keep the general public safe from gun violence by confiscating guns of hunters, target shooters and collectors and dragging their owners into court based (in many cases) on police and crown prosecutors’ flexible definitions of what constituted safe storage under the law.

All the while gang-bangers and drug dealers seemed to manage to stay armed regardless of the laws of the land. And when the courts formally banned them from gun ownership they simply went back out on the streets, defied the law and got more guns. No doubt because (after all) they are criminals and their way of life is based on breaking the law.

Now you would think that this would be obvious to everyone, particularly the police, who deal with the unlawful segment of our population of a frequent basis. However a recent discovery seems to have caused them some consternation.

Six people have been charged with operating a forgery ring that has stolen hundreds of identities.

Police and RCMP searched a home in downtown Edmonton and discovered counterfeiting equipment, along with hundreds of forged documents and cards. A sword disguised as a walking cane was the sole weapon found in the home.

One man was allegedly in the midst of forging firearms possession and acquisition cards when police arrived. Cpl. Julie Macfarlane-Smith, of the Edmonton commercial crime section, said such forged documents could enable the unauthorized purchase of guns and ammunition.

The police spokesperson seemed a bit taken aback by the brazenness of it all.

Cpl. Julie Macfarlane-Smith of the RCMP’s commercial crimes section said she’s never seen forged firearms licences before.

“It’s quite a process to receive (a legal) one,” she said, “and to think it’s a matter of changing a face and the accompanying data (on a licence) so someone can say, this is who I am and I’m here to buy a firearm or some ammunition, it’s seriously a concern.”

Sources close to Edmonton’s gangs have said guns are easy to obtain, but bullets are scarce on the street. The reason, they say, is because you need a licence to buy ammunition from a retailer.

They suggest that if bullets were more accessible, there’d be a lot more shootings in the city.

If criminals can get their hands on forged licences, McGowan said, “it’s particularly worrisome. What are we going to do next if there’s any prevalence of this?”

Indeed. What are we going to do?

I suppose we could pass more laws to make the point that it’s really, really bad to forge documents or obtain guns illegally. Or even reiterate that stealing is really, really frowned upon by society.

But I suspect it wouldn’t make a lot of difference one way or the other.

It’s not as though these particular bad guys were just concentrating on firearm licenses.

They found hundreds of stolen and forged pieces of I.D., including bank documents, credit cards, driver’s licences, birth certificates, Canadian citizenship papers, Treaty and Metis cards and company I.D. cards. They also seized computer equipment and software to print counterfeit cash….

After all, if you can manufacture driving licenses, birth certificates and citizenship papers, firearm Possession and Acquisition Licences are just another run on the production line.

All of which goes to the truth that if you pass a law limiting access to a product or even banning it outright, most people will try and comply even if they strongly disagree with its premise.

But if there is a market for that product and money to be made, clever people who don’t give a damn about the law or the rules will find some innovative and of course illegal way to bypass the system.

And in the meantime politicians will look to pass more laws to do the work that their old laws failed to do and the police will continue to do photo-ops of the “arsenals” that they have confiscated from the homes of those the bureaucracy, through their laws and regulations, has arbitrarily designated as criminals.

And somewhere, in a basement possibly near to you, a printing press is rolling.