Winnipeg Free Press characterization of citizens as vigilantes grossly unfair

The Winnipeg Free Press has taken the position that action by citizens to stop the thieves stealing liquor form Liquor Marts, by making citizen arrests, amounts to vigilantism.

 

Quotes from the Editorial in the October 30, 2019 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press, entitled, Liquor store theft demands complex, costly solutions, stated,

“A second dangerous development is that some citizens have taken the law into their own hands — literally — and tackled and subdued thieves until police arrive.”

“But when it seems that criminals can offend without consequence, some people feel the state has reneged on its end of the deal, and a few frustrated citizens will turn to vigilantism.”

 

An article in the October 31st. 2019 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press an article, Provinces team up against liquor theft, written by Katie May stated,

Here in Winnipeg, police recently warned residents against vigilante justice as local Liquor Marts continue to log between 10 and 20 thefts daily.”

 

What is vigilantism and vigilante justice?

The word ‘vigilante’ has Spanish origins.  It means, to watch or guard.  In other words, to be vigilant.  The word became common in English usage during the 19th century and referred to groups or individuals that attempted to summarily suppress or punish crime outside of established legal boundaries.

In today’s terms, vigilantes are individuals who operate without legal authority and are in fact breaking the law.  Vigilante justice is the act of ‘enforcing’ laws without authority to do so and without regard to due process and the rule of law — again, an illegal activity.

That raises the question, what are citizens in Canada allowed to do and what authority are they granted in terms of intervening when they witness a crime being committed?

Citizen powers of arrest are dealt with under Section 494 of the Criminal Code of Canada:

  • 494 (1) Any one may arrest without warrant:
    • (a)a person whom he finds committing an indictable offence; or
    • (b)a person who, on reasonable grounds, he believes
      • (i) has committed a criminal offence; and
      • (ii)is escaping from and freshly pursued by persons who have lawful authority to arrest that person.
    • (2) The owner or a person in lawful possession of property, or a person authorized by the owner or by a person in lawful possession of property, may arrest a person without a warrant if they find them committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property; and
      • (a)they make the arrest at that time; or
      • (b)they make the arrest within a reasonable time after the offence is committed and they believe on reasonable grounds that it is not feasible in the circumstances for a peace officer to make the arrest.
    • (3) Any one other than a peace officer who arrests a person without warrant shall forthwith deliver the person to a peace officer.

(4) For greater certainty, a person who is authorized to make an arrest under this section is a person who is authorized by law to do so for the purposes of section 25.

The reference to Section 25 of the Criminal Code is also of importance as it authorizes the use of force by citizens when making a citizen’s arrest:

 

Protection of persons acting under authority

  • 25 (1) Everyone who is required or authorized by law to do anything in the administration or enforcement of the law
    • (a)as a private person,
    • (b)as a peace officer or public officer,
    • (c)in aid of a peace officer or public officer, or
    • (d)by virtue of his office,

is, if he acts on reasonable grounds, justified in doing what he is required or authorized to do and in using as much force as is necessary for that purpose.

In layman’s words, here is what these two sections of the Criminal Code mean:

— A citizen who sees an indictable offence being committed (theft, for example, is an indictable offence) has the legal authority to make a citizen arrest.  The important thing is that the citizen must see the actual commission of the offence.  A citizen could not, for example, arrest a suspect whom he recognizes from a video as having committed an offence in the past (police, however, do have the authority to arrest a suspect in that instance).

— If a citizen is acting lawfully and making a citizen arrest, he/she may use force to do so.  The force used must be reasonable in terms of the circumstance.

— Once a citizen makes an arrest there is an obligation to turn the arrested person over to police ‘forthwith’.  In the case of Liquor store thefts that would means there is an obligation to contact police as soon as practicable after such an arrest is made so that police can take custody of the suspect and process the suspect through the criminal justice system.

Citizens, acting within the law and arresting thieves at Liquor Marts are not vigilantes.  They are exemplary citizens who take citizenship seriously.  They should be commended not denigrated.

The circumstance such as the number of suspects, their attitude and whether you are alone with a group of people, and your age and capabilities are determining factors in terms of whether you should get involved when you see an offence being committed.

That brings me to the second point in the above-mentioned mention Free Press editorial:

The nature of liquor store larceny sparks controversy because it appears the thieves are stealing with impunity.  A defining characteristic of a country such as Canada is that when crimes are committed against people and property, good citizens agree to let the state handle it and criminals get busted.”

That in a nutshell is precisely what has plagued policing for at least half a century if not longer.  What the editorial is referencing is what is referred to as the ‘professional model of policing’, which was based on three tenets: random patrols, rapid response to calls for service, and reactive criminal investigation.

Under this model the role of citizens is reduced to reporting crime, after the fact.  There is no cohesion between citizens and the police and no sense of working together toward a common cause or goal.  It is more like a contractual financial agreement; citizens pay taxes and in return receive services.  That may be an acceptable model for refuse collection but not for policing.

It was this model which resulted in alienation between the police and the public and removed the public from the crime prevention equation that led many community groups from the 1970’s and onward to demand some form of community policing; in essence, a return to the model of policing envisioned by Sir Robert Peel.

Peel’s Principles of Policing were introduced in 1829 at a time when policing in England was moving from a watchman model where citizens took turns performing the watchman/policing  function at the community level to a system where policing was moving to hiring peace officers to perform the policing function on a full time basis.   At the time Peel and others were worried that the hiring of full-time peace officers could possibly lead to alienation between the public and the police.

Peel’s 7th Principle (see below) which has become the mantra of community policing advocates addresses the issue of maintaining the link between the community and the police:

Principle Seven

To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen, in the interests of community welfare and existence.  For a complete listing of Peel’s principles and a commentary on each click( here )

The section in the Canadian Criminal Code that grants citizens the authority to arrest can be traced back to Peel’s 7th Principle.  If the public are to be involved in assisting police in the interests of community welfare and existence, they need legislated authority that empowers them to do so in order to make their actions legal and fit into the framework of the rule of law.

The Winnipeg Free Press in their October 30th Editorial  suggests that a defining characteristic for a country such as Canada is that good citizens agree to let the state handle criminal activity and that citizens will mind their own business.  If that is true, then community policing is dead, because community policing envisioned citizens and the police working together to combat crime.

The way to resolve criminal issues is direct and meaningful interaction between the police and the community, where both parties work to support each other in pursuit of a common goal.  That goal in Peel’s words is the absence of crime.   We need to live up to the tradition of ‘the police are the public and the public are the police’.

 

 

First Past the Post versus Proportional Representation in the 2019 Manitoba Election

Following the 2019 Federal election there is a lot of discussion on social media about ‘first past the post’ (FPP) versus ‘proportional representation” (PR) and whether our electoral system in Canada is a fair one.

A previous post outlined how the two approaches would have impacted the recent Federal election.

A look at the recent election in Manitoba show that the outcome here would also have been quite dramatically different under a PR versus FPP system as well.

2019 Manitoba Election

Party % of popular vote First past the post Proportional representation
Conservative 47.02 38 27
NDP 31.38 18 18
Liberal 14.48 4 8
Green 6.43 0 4
Other 1 0 0

 

The Conservative seat count would have been reduced to 26 from 38.  The NDP would have held their own, and the Liberals and the Green Party would have seen their seat count increased form 4 to 8 and 0 to 4 respectively.  In other words, Manitoba would have a minority Conservative government that could be brought down at any time if the other three parties had the will. Under such a scenario you might even see a NDP, Liberal, Green coalition or an NDP minority government propped up by the Liberal and the Green Party.

 

The results in the 2017 BC election would have looked like this:

Party % of popular vote First past the post Proportional representation
Liberal 40.36 42 35
NDP 40.28 41 35
Green 16.84 3 15
Other 2.52 1 2

BC currently has a minority government and that would not have changed under a PR system but the Green Party would have gained 12 seats.

 

In the recent Alberta election won by the United Conservatives they would have won a majority under either system but both the NDP and the Alberta Party would have seen an increase from 24 to 28 and from 0 to 8 seats respectively.

Party % of popular vote First past the post Proportional representation
United Conservative 54.88 63 48
NDP 32.67 24 28
Alberta Party 9.08 0 8
Other (total of 11) 3.37 0 3

 

The bottom line is this:  if Canada were to changed to a PR from a FPP electoral system the larger established political parties stand to lose seats while the smaller parties who currently have no standing in terms of seats would see an increase.

The result might well be a increase in the number of minority governments at the provincial level.

Why we still have a ‘first past the post’ system in Canada

During the 2015 election the Liberals ran on a promise to change the electoral system from a first past the post to a proportional representation system.

Did you ever ask yourself why the Liberals abandoned that promise so quickly?  The 2019 election results provide the answer.

I’m certain the Liberals did a lot of result modeling and quickly realized that the proportional representation system did not favour the Liberal Party.

The table below show how the political parties would have fared in the 2019 election under such a system.

 

Party % of popular vote First past the post Proportional representation
Liberal 33.06 157 112
Conservative 34.4 121 116
Bloc 7.7 32 26
NDP 15.9 24 53
Greens 6.5 3 22

 

Both the Conservatives and the Bloc would have ‘lost’ a few seats under a proportional representation system but the big losers would have been the Liberals who would have seen their number of seats reduce from 157 to 112, a loss of 45 seats.

The big winners would have been the NDP (gain of 29 seats) and the Greens (gain of 19 seats).

Whether you like the idea of proportional representation or not it would certainly change the political landscape in Canada.

The SNC-Lavalin Affair- Part II

 

Gerald Butts testimony before the House of Commons Justice Committee

The House of Commons Justice Committee is not a court of law.

This is obvious to everyone who has watched the recent testimony before that body.  Because the Committee is a political body, it is an extension of the ruling party, and it’s deliberations are not a search for the truth.  It is a Liberal dominated Committee hell-bent on  establishing political cover for the actions of the Liberal government.

The Committee however has some of the trappings of a court of law.  It calls witnesses and hears testimony but at the end of the day it does not reach any conclusions or make any rulings.

In short it is a political exercise.

The role of Mr. Butts at the Committee

If one were to draw parallels between the Committee hearings and a court of law it might look like this.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould was the complainant,  the prime witness for the prosecution.  She testified as to the alleged wrong doing perpetrated  by the Prime Minister, the PMO, the Clerk of the Privy Counsel and others in their attempt to interfere with her duties as the Attorney General in an attempt  influence the course of justice.

Mr. Butts appeared for the defence, in this case his own defence and defence of the government and its officials and most importantly in defence of the Prime Minister.

As in a court of law the defence does not need to prove that they (the accused) did not do what they are accused of.

All they need to do is raise a reasonable doubt and that was what Mr. Butts was there to do.

In the case of Mr. Butts all he needed to do was muddy the waters.  Because of the political realities he took great case not to attack Jody Wilson-Raybould, an Indigenous woman.  He nibbled around the edges and attempted to raise doubts, to muddy the waters.

In a court of law if reasonable doubt is raised the accused is entitled to an acquittal.

In the case of the Justice Committee there is no true trier of fact so at the end of the day, no ruling was rendered.

Members of the Justice Committee on all sides essentially have their minds made up and can be expected to arrive at conclusions drawn along party lines.

 

Was doubt raised

From the press coverage of the Prime Minister’s subsequent comments to the media it would appear that he is convinced that his friend Mr. Butts succeeded in raising sufficient doubt and he is now parroting Mr. Butts’ mantra of confusion and misunderstanding, but no wrongdoing.   Mr. Butts muddied the water and the Prime Minister is the straw now stirring the muddied water in an attempt to  ensure the sediment does not settle.

Mr Butts was a competent witness and performed well in terms of adding confusion to the issue.  However,  it will not take long for the sediment stirred up by Mr. Butts to settle to the bottom.  In my view this attempts at muddying the water succeeded but only on a  temporary basis.  As he stated in his testimony  “facts are stubborn things”.

Facts  are indeed stubborn things and the facts presented by the former Attorney General  stand tall and speak for themselves, untarnished, untainted and powerful.

They will survive the current Liberal onslaught and survive in the minds of Canadians who in this case are the true triers of fact.

Canadians will render their decision on this matter on October 21st. 2019.

The Lavalin Affair: The letter that was never written

Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould

 

As was the case with many Canadians, last Wednesday I couldn’t get any work done.  I sat glued to my 70 inch television watching the riveting testimony of former Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould as she testified before the House of Commons Justice Committee.  I was so convinced that her testimony would be ground breaking that I set my PVR to record both the testimony and the following commentary by pundits on both channels that were broadcasting the historic event.

And the former Attorney General did not disappoint.  Many had speculated that in her testimony Wilson-Raybould would  ‘nibble around the edges’ and perhaps create a weak ‘he said-she said’ scenario.

Wrong, there was no nibbling around the edges.  Wilson-Raybould got right to the heart of the matter.

Less than 10 seconds into her opening statement, Wilson-Raybould hit us with this statement:

“For a period of approximately four months, between September and December of 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the attorney general of Canada, in an inappropriate effort to secure a deferred prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin.”

Of note is that she did not say in her role as Minister of Justice and Attorney General, rather, just in her role as the Attorney General.

This made it very clear that she had a firm grasp of her postion and the difference between her dual roles.  On one hand she was the Minister of Justice, a member of the cabinet;  on the other, she was the Attorney General, two very separate and distinct roles.  Two very distinct roles that dictated two very different types of communication and interaction that cabinet colleagues, the Privy Council office, the PMO and the Prime Minister himself could have with her.  As the minister of Justice they could communicate with her politically, however in her role as the Attorney General the communication needed to be on a legal basis as outlined by law and convention.

It would appear that this distinction was lost on the Prime Minister,  the Clerk of the Privy Council and political staffers in the PMO.  Not only did they blur the lines, they obliterated them.

There is one point that I’ve thought a lot about since I watched Ms Wilson-Raybould’s testimony and listened to endless commentary and the opinions expressed in the subsequent media coverage.

Much has been made of the fact that the former attorney general would not take into consideration the so called ‘additional information’ being pushed forward by SNC-Lavalin through the Prime Minister and other political entities.

The fact is, Ms Wilson-Raybould did provide the opportunity for SNC-Lavalin to advance their legal argument in an appropriate manner.

During her September 19th 2018 meeting with the Prime Minster, also attended by the Clerk of the Privy Council, she made the following offer:

I offered that if SNC were to send — I offered to the clerk, if SNC were to send me a letter expressing their concerns, their public interest arguments, it would be permissible, and I would appropriately forward it directly to the director of public prosecutions.

This offer was never followed up on by SNC-Lavalin.

The question is, why not? The answer is:  the former attorney general made an offer to SNC-Lavalin to mount a legal argument.

The reason SNC-Lavalin did not respond is that in all likelihood they understood that they did not have a strong legal argument to make, in favour of a deferred prosecution agreement.

SNC-Lavalin through their pressure on government wanted the government to arrange a  political solution to a legal problem.

The Prime Minister, the PMO and the Clerk of the Privy Council  through their “sustained effort”  to “politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion” attempted to deliver exactly what SNC-Lavalin wanted: a political solution for a legal problem.

But for the resolve, courage and integrity displayed by Jody Wilson-Raybould, they might have succeeded.

The Great Canadian Carbon Tax

 

Is it a carbon tax or perhaps the Great Canadian Carbon Scam?

 

Governments of all stripes have repeatedly demonstrated  throughout history that they are not stellar stewards of our money.

 

Every dollar that flows to government in the form of taxation (any form of taxation)  is potentially a dollar wasted.  Every dollar we keep out of the hands of government is potentially a dollar saved.

 

Enter the Trudeau Liberal carbon tax.  The Trudeau Liberals started out touting the carbon tax as being revenue neutral.  The carbon tax would be flowing back to the people who paid it.

The current iteration of the plan calls for 90% of the tax going back to the people who paid it.  And of that 90% only 70 % of taxpayers will get back at least what the tax cost them, which means the other 30 % will in fact  be  ‘taxed” by this so-called revenue neutral taxing scheme.

 

The question that arises is, apart from the inequity of the carbon tax  how is taxing Peter and then paying Paul (who is actually Peter)  90% of what you took from him going to contribute to a reduction of emissions?

 

That is a question that has not been adequately answered. The second question is who gets the remaining 10% and how ill that contribute to cutting emissions?  At present it is designated to go the schools and hospital and other such entities that are not able to pass the tax on to consumers.

 

Lastly there is another question that has not even been asked.  What will be the cost of creating the and running the bureaucracy that will administer this new tax?

Will there be a tax or surcharge to pay for the cost of collecting and redistributing the tax back to some but not all Canadian?  Or is that what the money that the 30% who will not be getting back what the tax cost them will be used for.

Lastly, is this perhaps just another pre-election bauble or ‘shiny thing’  the Liberals are throwing out there to distract voters from the other issues facing this country in the hope that the electorate is gullible enough to fall for it?

 

 

Winnipeg Police Policy on marijuana use by police officers

On October 15th, two days prior to marijuana legalization the Winnipeg police Service announced their policy on the use of marijuana by members of the Service.  Here is what it says:

 

Winnipeg Police Service Drug and Alcohol Policy

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has indicated police agencies across Canada are in the process of articulating policies and standards for the use of cannabis in the workplace. Discussions primarily revolve around options that vary from zero-tolerance, to established timeframes between consumption and active duty, to relying on existing fit for duty policies.

With the legalization of recreational cannabis, the Winnipeg Police Service recognizes the need to address the new legislation with all members.

All employees of the Winnipeg Police Service are governed by the City of Winnipeg policy, Alcohol & Drug-Free Workplace. In accordance with this policy, all members of the Winnipeg Police Service must be fit for duty, regardless of the cause of impairment.

In addition, information and training have been made available to all members regarding the personal impact of cannabis use, legislative changes, enforcement of the new legislation and updated supervisor training.

We would like to take this time to remind all citizens of Winnipeg that it everyone’s responsibility to understand the effects of consumption of cannabis in any manner and the possible consequences.

The leading cause of criminal death in Canada remains impaired driving. Cannabis and driving do not mix. The Winnipeg Police Service is committed to keeping Winnipeg roads safe from impaired drivers, regardless of the source of impairment, and enforcing impaired driving laws.  Impaired drivers not only put themselves at risk but also others with whom they share the road.

 

previous post on this blog gave respondents the opportunity to give their views on what the policy should be.  The Winnipeg Police Policy is in keeping with what 43% of respondents choose as their first choice.  It is of interest to note that the other 57% of respondents all favoured a more restrictive policy with 30% favouring total abstinence.

Winnipeg Police policy on marijuana use by police officers should:

Answer Percent
fit for duty approach similar to alcohol use policy 43%  
require total abstinence 30%  
no use 8 hours prior to shift 15%  
no use 28 days prior to shift 12%  
no restrictions on use 0%