It’s time to stop persecuting people who defend themselves

May 11, 2011 11:32 pm

May 11th, 2011 – Roy Green, National Post

A predictable din from opposition benches notwithstanding, the Harper government will now speedily move forward with its crime omnibus legislation.

Unlike recent years of Conservative minority governance there will be no opposition-dominated parliamentary committee assembled to pass swift and condemning sentence of the Conservatives without opportunity for appeal. This legislation will be introduced, read into the record, passed, endorsed by the blue members of the Red Chamber and duly become law.

Next item: addressing law governing defence of self, family and property.

Cases in point:

* Toronto grocer David Chen faced criminal charges and several loopy days in court for apprehending and holding a multi-convicted thug engaged in theft from Mr. Chen’s business. The court of public opinion immediately delivered a verdict. If Mr. Chen was guilty of anything, it was of taking appropriate action.

* Ontario resident Ian Thomson awoke last August to three individuals firebombing his home while shouting death threats. Thomson, a former firearms instructor, retrieved a legally owned handgun and fired over the heads of the attackers. Security cameras captured the incident for police and Crown prosecutors to review.

For his efforts Mr. Thomson had his guns confiscated and faced criminal prosecution. Again the crown, this time by its own admission overreached, eventually dropping the careless use of a firearm and pointing a firearm charges. Because? No reasonable chance of conviction.

Predictable chatter surfaced that Ian Thomson should have called police; that resorting to using a firearm to defend his life and property was excessive. Ridiculous. Excessive was the state and its agents defining a citizen under violent attack as a criminal. As for calling police? David Chen did that on more than one occasion and without satisfactory result.

* Lawrence Manzer of New Brunswick, a former member of Canada’s military, currently faces criminal charges for assisting his neighbour Brian Fox, also a retired member of this nation’s armed forces. Fox and Manzer were victims of break-ins and vandalism who made the help call to police. ‘Sorry, we can’t take action unless the perpetrators are caught in the act’ they were told.

Today Lawrence Manzer relates how not long after he heard a commotion at Fox’s home and rushed outside with an unloaded shotgun to assist his neighbour, who had confronted three individuals on his property. Drunken teens it turned out, one of whom received a fine.

Brian Fox was arrested for assault, another charge eventually dropped. Lawrence Manzer continues to face possession of a weapon for a purpose dangerous to public peace criminal prosecution.

Mr. Manzer says his trial date has been moved to July 14. In an e-mail he adds “this is not about me, it is about all Canadians rights protecting their life and property. They (Crown) are bent on spending huge amounts of your tax dollars to have me convicted and to set an example.”

Canada’s law enforcement agencies continue to engage in tactics of intimidation toward law-abiding citizens who dutifully jumped through excessive and intrusive bureaucratic hoops in order to legally possess a firearm. Thompson and Manzer are cases in point.

The Conservative government’s public relations campaign supporting the omnibus crime bill will speak to the need to protect society from the criminal. Fine. It is time also to adjust the philosophy adopted by Pierre Trudeau’s Liberals in 1971. A philosophy which had the then solicitor General for Canada inform Parliament that from that day forward the justice system would concentrate on the “rehabilitation of the individual” and “not on the protection of society.” A philosophy which clearly continues to guide the application of criminal justice.

This federal government should write “protection of society” back into law, including the right of the individual to act in defence of self, family and property without fear of undue and unwarranted prosecution. The so-called Castle doctrine would do the job nicely. Please look it up and decide for yourself.

National Post

 Roy Green is host of the Roy Green Show on the Corus Radio Network