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When the authority of the state goes too far

February 2022

The invocation of the Emergencies Act by Justin Trudeau should be very concerning to all Canadians, despite the fact that it was revoked barely 48 hours later. Oh sure, Trudeau and his ministers (minions?) were professing that the authorities granted by the act would have been limited in scope and for a “limited time” didn’t mean we could all relax. Far from it actually.

Besides the obvious concerns, promises by governments are never written in stone, nor are there ever any consequences beyond electoral defeat. How many times have we heard governments claim, “We will cut your automobile insurance by 15%” or “Read my lips: No new taxes” or how about Jean Chr├ętien’s promise to scrap the GST?

Included in the Emergencies Act is the ability of the federal government to seize not just your chequing account, but all your investment accounts too. You will have very little in way to fight back against this draconian measure. Even if you were successful in a legal battle to get your money, or any other property that was seized under the Act, it could take years, many court dates and a huge legal bill to finally prevail.

The Emergencies Act isn’t the only Canadian legislation that one could call draconian. Canada’s Firearms Act, enacted in 1995, also contains some pretty harsh legal authorities.

One of the things that I learnt very early on in my career as a police officer was that the truth doesn’t matter when it comes to convicting an accused in court. The only thing that actually matters is what you can prove in court. From a high standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” for criminal offences, to the lower standard of “beyond the balance of probabilities” for other court action, including civil court, and as I found out the hard way, Canada’s Firearms Act.

It’s really a punch to the gut to be falsely accused of something, especially when that accusation results in court action.

Beginning in November 2019 and continuing into June 2020 (that I know of), a series of accusations were made against me, anonymously, to my local police service. This anonymous source, using Crime Stoppers, claimed that they had seen me in the front window of my house, on numerous occasions, loudly ranting and raving about a particular issue, waiving a rifle around and threatening to “get back” at certain people. The source further alleged that I was either dancing around my living room in either just my under wear or completely naked.

These allegations were completely false, not just kind of false, nor an exaggeration of the truth, but completely false. This led to my local police service serving a Criminal Code Section 117 Public Safety Warrant on me. Under this search warrant, the police were authorized to search my house, cars and any outbuildings, and seize my lawfully owned hunting rifles and any ammunition in my possession.

I wasn’t facing any charges as a result of this action, but I was required to attend a court hearing to determine if my ownership of the rifles would forfeited, along with a five-year prohibition on the ownership of firearms. This is also in addition to any negative consequences that could have befallen me for having been painted a violent and unstable person.

It’s really frightening to think that this court action came about, despite the police having only accusations provided by an anonymous complainant; nothing more. There were no photos, videos, audio recordings, or witnesses willing to come to court and be subject to cross-examination. Of course, I know why there were none of the aforementioned. Keep in mind, we live in an era when most people have a recording device in their pocket at all times (sometimes glued to their hands), yet there was no footage, not even one short clip, nor a call to 9-11.

You would thought that seeing someone dancing around naked in their living room with a rifle, ranting and raving about getting back at people, would have warranted an immediate call to 9-11, not an anonymous complaint to Crime Stoppers, some of which weren’t acted upon by police for over a month. The first complaint was made on 2 November 2019, and the Public Safety Warrant wasn’t executed for over a month later, on 17 December.

The police did make a belated attempt to identify the anonymous complainant, after the court action had already commenced, and after I had made a formal complaint about the fact that they didn’t know the identity of the complainant, but they were unsuccessful. The allegations were made through Crime Stoppers, using an anonymous phone application, so identifying the source was impossible.

The only thing really going in the police’s favour was that allegations painted me as a potentially violent and unstable person, thus they could justify the court action for “public safety” reasons. I’m a recovering alcoholic (five years & eight months of sobriety) and suffer from PTSD, which is why I was forced into retirement from policing, something I have been very open about for the past four years. The anonymous source obviously thought they could use that against me.

Fortunately for me, I had alibi evidence, including witnesses who were willing to come to court and testify that the allegations couldn’t have happened. The complainant gave specific dates and time-frames, and I was able to refute all of them. On four of the dates that I was allegedly behaving badly, I wasn’t even at home during the time-frame, and I was able to conclusively prove that.

When the Crown realized that there was no chance of being successful, the matter was dropped.

This legal battle stretched over a year-and-a-half and cost me almost $9000 in legal costs. When the Crown realized that there was no chance of being successful, the matter was dropped and my rifles and ammunition were returned to me.

Now, ownership of firearms in Canada is a privilege, not a right. True, but apparently the money in your bank and investment accounts is also a privilege too.

Many will argue that Canadians don’t need guns and the fewer of them out there, the fewer people will get shot. This is a common talking point espoused by the anti-gun crowd, but it ignores the simple reality that the gangbangers whom are shooting up our cities, are not using hunting rifles; they are using illegal handguns.

Speaking of illegal, these gangbangers don’t care about any laws, let alone firearms laws, so banning firearms will have absolutely no effect on them, so there’s that too.

Now you may not be a firearms owner, or care that someone loses the right to own firearms, but how when the government prohibits you from owning something or participating in an activity that you do care about, like an environmental cause?

It’s scary that such flimsy evidence led me to have to endure this legal battle. What if I didn’t have any alibi evidence, and all that I had to refute the allegations was my testimony in court that none of the allegations happened? Testimony evidence is the weakest type of evidence that can be presented in court, and is dependent of the Judge/Jury believing the testimony. Things like documentary evidence (documents, photographs, video) and especially DNA, are much more conclusive.

Ironically, when it comes to the Emergencies Act, it could be documentary evidence that could be very problematic for anyone who donated to the trucker convoy, or simply attended any one of the protest sites across the country. Regardless, the government shouldn’t have the power to seize your bank accounts simply because you donated to a cause or attended a protest that they disagree with, and nothing else.

They also shouldn’t be able to seize your property, firearms or not, with flimsy evidence or for political purposes. Trudeau didn’t seize the bank accounts of environmental protesters blockading pipelines and railways, nor from organizations like Black Lives Matter or Antifa, some of whom did more physical and economic damage than a bunch of truckers blockading roads.

Sources: Firearms Act (justice.gc.ca), https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1853979715606

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/when-the-authority-of-the-state-goes-too-far/

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