The Greater Threat To Justice Is Our Justice System
Crime, the experts will tell you, is decreasing in Canada and they have the statistics to prove it. What they won’t tell you is that those statistics are based on reported crimes, not all of the crimes that actually take place. If there is an assault that does not result in charges – it didn’t happen.
They also won’t tell you that how the statistics are interpreted very much depends on how crime is categorized. Simply moving one type of crime from one category to another can have a dramatic change in how the stats appear. Reclassifying bullying from assault to youth crime drops the assault statistics.
Statistics are a wonderful thing and can be used to prove almost anything. I know this because I worked with statistics most of my career and once demonstrated to a large and somewhat incredulous audience just how easy it was to successfully argue opposite sides of an issue using the same set of stats.
The simple truth is that crime is not decreasing and we are not safer than we were.
Crime, particularly violent crime, is on the increase and not simply because of social issues like poverty, mental illness, immigration or all the other things people point to when discussing crime’s root causes. Crime is increasing in direct proportion to a decreasing lack of respect for the law.
Nowhere is that lack of respect for law more prevalent than with those we entrust to administer our laws.
Our legal system is under attack by police, politicians, judges and crown attorneys who increasingly ignore the letter of the law in favour of their individual discretionary interpretation of its application. It has led to uneven administration of the law across the country based on everything from age, economic and social status to race and jurisdiction.
The police routinely decide which laws and court orders to enforce or ignore while crown attorneys are quick to plea bargain and courts too wiling to consider the accused social or racial circumstances rather than the injury done to the victim or society.
It is commonplace that a person convicted of a crime in one part of the country will receive a far more severe sentence than a person convicted of the same crime in another. Defense attorneys know this and where the charges are multi-jurisdictional, the first thing they try to do is have the case tried in the most lenient jurisdiction.
Courts issue injunctions which the police refuse to enforce. This too often includes court orders in cases where women are threatened by a boyfriend or husband but most notable lately are court orders for aboriginal protesters to end illegal blockades.
We saw a severe example of this at Caledonia where police allowed aboriginal protesters to not only blockade a housing project but to intimidate and even assault legal home owners.
The aboriginal protests at Oka and Ipperwash changed how police deal with these situations. Out of fear for escalation of the situation, they have opted to allow the protests to run their course. But as seen in Caledonia, sometimes the situation escalates on its own and innocent people become the victims of serious crime while the police do nothing.
When did application of criminal law and enforcing court orders become discretionary?
We’ve seen too many examples of police forces standing by impotently and even violating our laws in the name of cultural sensitivity or out of fear of escalating a situation.
In Vancouver, the police were completely unprepared and did nothing to stop a riot following an NHL hockey game that resulted in millions of dollars in damages to public and private property. The only reason charges were eventually laid was because many of the rioters were stupid enough to post pictures of themselves on their Facebook pages. The police did virtually nothing the night of the riot. People were hurt. Cars were burned. Property was vandalized and stores were looted as the police watched.
In Toronto this week, police conducted a sweep search of a social housing complex following yet another gun fight in a residential neighbourhood. They only searched public areas but were able to find significant stashes of weapons and illegal drugs. Oh my – what a surprise. People associated with social housing neighbourhoods have been reporting increasing crime for years but the police had to be prompted by a gun fight to actually take action and do a little investigating.
The simple truth is that the emphasis on application of the law has shifted.
The police devote more resources to traffic enforcement than to crime prevention. Their anti-gang, anti-Internet crime and other serious crime units are small; so small that in many cases combined they don’t equal the number of officers that are dedicated to ensuring citizens don’t run stop signs.
Oh sure, they’ll point to their community relations programs, their anti-bullying campaigns and cultural sensitivity programs but criminals don’t usually attend those meetings. Street gangs could care less how many times the police meet with community representatives to discuss neighbourhood watch or community-based policing; they’re busy with their business of breaking the law to make money and settle scores.
The emphasis has shifted so far to the side of the social issues related to crime that the police have forgotten that one of the most obvious methods of preventing crime is a significant police presence and high profile patrols in high crime areas.
What is happening to our legal system isn’t merely the fault of police however.
More money is being spent in Manitoba on an enquiry into the private sex life of a judge than on anti-gang initiatives. Personally, I don’t care if the judge swings naked upside down from a chandelier in the dining room screaming, “Do me you big stud!” her particular erotic proclivities have no effect on the safety or security of my family or my country.
But an even, consistent application and respect for our laws does and too many in our legal system are violating both.
Judging from editorials, blog posts and comments on social media, it is clear that many think that we are evolving into a two-tier legal system; one application of our laws for culturally sensitive groups and situations and a different application for the rest of us.
I would submit that, in fact, we have a multi-tiered and discretionary system. The elite face one type of justice, white collar criminals face a different type, protesters in general too often get a free pass and specific racial protesters almost always walk away.
Students protests in Quebec over proposed tuition increases which eventually costs the province $90 million – ignored by the police.
Those same students go into CEGEPS and Colleges intimidating other students attending class – ignored by police.
Aboriginal protesters block rail lines and tamper with signal switches – ignored by police.
Toronto City Council this week passed a motion to declare the city a sanctuary for illegal aliens in direct opposition to Canada’s immigration laws.
The federal government refuses to evenly apply the law when dealing with Canadians convicted of crimes in other countries. Some receive immediate grant to serve their sentence in Canada, others are refused the same right.
Aboriginal protesters drive to Windsor to blockade and shut down a border crossing – the police close the highway so that they can reach the protest on time.
Tamils protest illegally in Ottawa over issues related to their homeland. They create a disturbance and snarl traffic for hours – ignored by police. (try getting a few of your friends together to dance through a couple of downtown streets impeding traffic and see how long it is before your arrested.)
Cyclists weave in and out of traffic, drive the wrong way down one-way streets, ride on sidewalks – ignored by police. Cycling is too politically correct to have the Traffic Act applied to it.
In Quebec, the language rights of minorities, including English, which are guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are trampled by the provincial government with the tacit support of the Government of Canada and all political parties.
A shoplifter continually robs a small green grocer in Toronto’s Chinatown. The store owner finally gives chase, catches the thief, ties him up and calls police – the police charge the store owner with kidnapping, the Crown Attorney makes a deal with the thief to testify against the store owner.
Protesters demonstrate in front of Sun News Media in Toronto. When a journalist comes down to interview protesters and they get upset by his presence – the police harass the journalist and try to force him to leave.
Human Rights Tribunals offer up quasi-judicial proceedings that are heavily weighted in favour of the plaintiff and against the defendant, going so far as to provide funding for those who wish to file a complaint while leaving those who are charged to pay for their own costs. Their findings are often based on politically correct interpretations of social issues rather than legal interpretations of the law.
A home owner is faced with a home invasion by two armed intruders and uses his legally owned gun to repel the invasion. The police arrest the home owner, the Crown charges him.
The court issues an injunction to end an illegal blockade at DeBeers near Attawapiskat – the provincial police refuse to enforce the court order.
In another small city in Northern Ontario, the police are called to end an illegal blockade by aboriginal protesters – the sergeant in charge joins the aboriginal drum circle.
Police in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Regina and other cities are increasingly being charged with excessive use of force. In Ottawa, a former RCMP officer and his wife stand charged with failing to provide the necessities of life, assault and sexual assault of their 11 year old son who they kept chained in the basement of their home. In British Columbia, the federal police force is accused of systemic violence and rape against aboriginal women.
Virtually every one of us is aware of too many examples of misuse of authority, inconsistent application of our laws and judicial findings that make no sense at all including this recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada.
A woman was convicted of trying to hire a hit man to kill her ex-husband. Unfortunately for her, the alleged hit man was an undercover police officer. She was charged, tried and convicted. During her trial, she tried the battered woman defense, accusing her ex-husband of being abusive. No evidence whatsoever was entered to support her claim and her ex-husband was never called to testify.
Despite this, the Supreme Court ruled that while she was guilty, her conviction would be set aside because of the abusive nature of her ex. There was no evidence of abuse beyond her accusation – no record of abuse having ever been previously reported, no evidence of domestic disputes. Indeed, the provincial court awarded custody of the couple’s children to the ex-husband because it deemed the mother to be unfit. Still, the Supreme Court set her free and further ordered that she could not be retried.
“Ere he shall lose an eye for such a trifle… For doing deeds of nature! I’m ashamed. The law is such an ass.” – George Chapman in 1654 – Revenge for Honour
It isn’t the law that is an ass – it is its inconsistent application by those who are entrusted to ensure that it is applied evenly for the protection of society. The law was enacted by the people’s Parliament. Police, crown attorneys and judges were hired and appointed to enforce and administer those laws – not to interpret and apply them at their convenience. Politicians were elected to enact laws to protect society and to ensure that those who administer our justice system do so fairly, evenly and consistently.
There are many police officers, crown attorneys and judges who are sincere in their attempts to administer our laws. They are as frustrated by the shift in how the law is applied as most citizens and by those who put political correctness and social and cultural expediency ahead of the law’s consistent application.
To many misuse their discretionary authority to the point where they begin to think that they are the law rather than the guarantors of its even application.
Serious crime increasingly goes unreported, unpunished or not punished to the full extent of the law while millions are spent enforcing traffic laws and petty crimes. Police, often supported by municipal and provincial politicians, take the position that less damage is done when a protest is allowed to run its course peacefully rather than stepping in and applying the law to end it.
They are wrong. By allowing illegal protests that violate our laws, they encourage those who would break our laws and that leads to a breakdown in respect for law and order. We have the right to protest in this country. We do not have the right to vandalize, intimidate, bully and interfere in the lives of others. By permitting that to happen, the police shift the balance from protecting the innocent to enabling the law breakers.
This leads to a lack of respect by criminals for our laws and a lack of respect for, and confidence in, those who administer our criminal justice system by every day citizens. When ‘we the people’ stop respecting the very people we hire to administer our laws, respect for thee law itself soon follows and that serves no one well.
What is needed is a return to an old fashioned idea that the law applies to everyone and will be applied evenly. Priorities need to be realigned from generating cash through traffic tickets to high profile police presence to reduce the incidence of violent and property crime. Violent offenders need to be treated firmly in court when found guilty and community-based policing needs to realign to community-protect policing.
We need fewer ‘experts’ telling us about the causes of crime and more simple, honest application of our laws by those we hire to administer them and we need our police and courts to get united in application of our laws rather than working at cross purposes with each other. This means that the police have to step back from their ‘crowd management’ approach at protests and be prepared to act as law enforcement officers by serving and enforcing legal court orders.
Justice is intended to be blind but as long as it is considered to be the purview of those who enforce it and remains overly influenced by race, culture, social standing and politically correct expediency, it will continue to be anything but blind or properly and evenly applied.
In a just society, the law applies evenly and fairly to all regardless of background, social or economic standing. In a society where the law is applied selectively, there is a growing lack of respect for the law and for those who are meant to uphold it. When those who enforce and administer our laws are the cause of the lack of respect for our law – there is no law and that undermines the very core of our social structure.
No one should be above the law. Justice that treats some differently than others is not just. When justice is no longer blind, fair or equal it is no longer justice; it is a weapon used by some against others specifically and society generally.
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
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