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March 8, 2015

Canada’s Retarded Justice System

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One day Ashley Thomas Brinston is too dangerous to release, 30 days later the Crown Prosecutor can’t put him back on the streets fast enough.

What’s going on?

Our justice system is often very good, but there are days where it is a complete farce.

After making death threats to a woman, Ashley Thomas Brinston found himself in jail after police searched his home and found firearms, ammunition, some legal and some not.

At his bail hearing the Crown Prosecutor opposed his release, arguing that Ashley Brinston was far too dangerous to allow out in the community. Seems reasonable on its face, doesn’t it? If the guy is running around threatening people and is in possession of firearms then it’s probably a good idea not to have this guy on the streets.

But what about the plea bargain entered into court this week, a joint submission by both Crown prosecutors and defense counsel?

In that joint submission the Crown agreed that a 120-day conditional sentence and house arrest was sufficient. Judge Harold Porter was, as he should be, disgusted with this notion.

“A month ago the Crown position was that it was far too dangerous to release the accused on judicial interim release. Today, it is the Crown position that it would be appropriate to sentence the accused to serve a sentence of house arrest, as a conditional sentence. Since judicial interim release and conditional sentences both require the accused complying with a court order, it is a challenge to reconcile the two positions taken by the Crown. A month ago, it was unsafe to release him into the community under the supervision of a court order, but today it is safe to release him on a court order.”

Sadly, despite his disgust with the sentence the judge is bound by law to accept it.

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June 19, 2014

Phil Hewkin’s Artwork Nails It to Loony Left

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Dennis Florian liked this post

Phil Hewkin is an artist and a gun owner.  He believes, as I do, that owning private property should not land you in prison, nor should it cost you your life savings or your family home.  All three of those things happened to Ontario gunsmith Bruce Montague.  Well, to be precise, the last of the three, the theft of the Montague family home using Ontario’s Proceeds of Crime Act, is not yet completed.

Now that the federal government is done stripping Bruce Montague and his wife of their life savings in the form of a firearm and ammunition collection, the Ontario government will now proceed with their absurd claim that the Montague family somehow benefited financially from Bruce Montague’s act of civil disobedience.

We in the west will tolerate any amount of insanity from radical muslims, yet when a single Canadian gun owner uses civil disobedience to protest an atrocious law he is branded a terrorist, tossed in prison and stripped of his worldly possessions.

Does that sound reasonable and rational?

Only if you’re a loony lefty who despises the Rights and Freedoms we are born with…

Inconsistencies-Of-The-Left

Image Courtesy of Phil Hewkin. Used with permission.

 

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June 18, 2014

Donna Montague Speaks Out on Criminal Case Against Her Husband

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My name is Donna Montague. I am married to former Ontario gunsmith Bruce Montague.

I have had Enough!

I am thoroughly disgusted!

It is bad enough that the news media reports inflammatory positions  about Bruce without verifying their data ….. but the “JUDICIARY” is  doing it too.

Now that the trial is over I can speak.

The search of our home:

  • First off, there was no search warrant for the September 11, 2004 raid  on my home. To this day I have not seen a search warrant for this raid.
  • The dynamite we had in the freezer was legal and all charges related  to it were dropped. The police reported the dynamite to prejudice the  public.
  • There were NO sawed off shotguns.
  • Next, 20,000 rounds is not a lot. Police officers testified that they  and target shooters shoot 5,000-10,000 rounds a year. One order from a  local police department is for 11,000 rounds for one event. A retailer  has to supply to their customers.
  • Next, the full auto firearms: Most don’t realize that they are legal  in Canada. Bruce’s license for these was burned in protest.
  • Serial Numbers: Bruce did remove serial numbers and was harshly  sentenced for it. Bruce served his sentence.

Bruce’s character:

The charge against Bruce of being a danger to society was found NOT  GUILTY by the jury.

Character witnesses, a crown contracted background check, and even OPP  officers who knew him, when cross-examined testified and stated that  Bruce is an upstanding citizen. Bruce worked on a lot of OPP and local  police firearms and serviced police departments as far away as New  Jersey. At the time of the raid he had a handgun form a Kenora Crown  Attorney and an OPP rifle. Yet Bruce is continually slandered.

I, his wife would not remain by his side for over 35 years, and  through all this, if Bruce was of the character the judiciary is  insinuating. Bruce is a help-your-neighbour kind of guy. I can’t  imagine anyone who knows him saying otherwise.

You know we ran a gunsmithing shop and retailed firearms. We didn’t  have as many firearms as most firearms stores do. Now the government  wish to take what was our small store’s inventory It was not an  arsenal! – it is our life’s savings!

Now, after the criminal portion of our case is over, the Crown wants  to seize our home – paid for with inherited money from my father and  built by our family. This is extreme, overboard and unreasonable!

This game of media defamation is disgusting. You jury members and  those who attended the trial, you know the whole story. You can share  what you learned in the trial. This is spinning out of control – It is  like politicians with their smear campaigns at election time.

Please! Stand Up! Speak! Don’t be silent and let this atrocity continue.

Donna Montague

 

P.S. I have had a lot of response to my letter in the newspaper. People are  asking me how they can help with letter writing. We would appreciate your letters to be cc’d to:

Court of Appeal for Ontario
130 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2N5

The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay  (no postage necessary)
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8

Canadian Constitutional Foundation
1830 – 52 Street SE
Suite 240
Calgary, Alberta T2B 1N1

Some points to consider in these letters may be:

  • Taking someone’s life savings for a victimless paper crime when a  1 ½ year prison sentence already seams excessive, is a cruel and  excessively brutal punishment.
  • In light of the lenient sentences that real criminals get, the  courts appear to have an obvious bias against firearms owners.
  • Bruce Montague was a protester!  He was a conscientious objector to Canada firearms legislation. (see an excellent explanation of what this means at PostcardsFromTheRight.com)  He didn’t threaten or hurt anyone.  This  isn’t how we treat protesters!
  • The civil forfeiture legislation was presented as stopping drug  lords from getting rich. The we made no profit from our protest and our house is not an instrument or proceed of crime.  Bruce made nothing, but the government stands to make hundreds of thousands of  dollars.

The Canadian Constitutional Foundation is representing us. You can support their efforts by donating through the Canadian Constitution Foundation website http://theccf.ca/donate/

Thanks,

Donna Montague

http://theccf.ca/articles/excessively-punitive-ruling-make-canadians-nervous/

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June 16, 2014

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis – Just Another Tyrannical Douchebag?

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Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis: if you can’t handle being mocked stop being a politician. Mocking and ridicule come with the territory so either get a thicker skin or get yourself a new job. Wasting police resources to harass those who oppose you is the act of a tyrant, not a mayor.

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis was so worried about a parody Twitter account with all of 50 posts and 50 followers he sent the Peoria Police Department on a 3-week chase of the heinous offender who created @peoriamayor (now defunct).

Bizarrely, three separate judges signed off on warrants for this case; one warrant for the Twitter account information, another for the ComCast subscriber information and the third was a search warrant for the home identified by the user’s IP address as identified by ComCast.

Violating the rights of this mere citizen is not only condoned but demanded by Mayor Jim Ardis. Freedom of Speech exists only for Jim Ardis, I suppose, and not for any of the citizens he presides over.

When police finally found the man responsible for mocking their mayor, one Jonathan Daniel, they descended like good little Police State thugs, with all the might they could muster. Since Jonathan Daniel committed no crime they dug through his possessions (illegally) until they found some marijuana.

They arrested Jonathan Daniel’s roommate, charged him with possession and held him on $3,000 bail, after seizing iPhones (2), XBox game controllers (2), private mail, digital memory cards and “drug paraphernalia”, whatever that means.

Presumably one of the cops needed new XBox controllers for his own system? Can’t imagine how else they can rationalize the seizure…

The only reason Daniel faced criminal charges at all is they had to charge him with something… how else do they justify this massive waste of police time and resources?

The crime of mocking one’s mayor is… well… no crime at all. Freedom of expression protects we mere citizens from such attacks by the overzealous minions of the state, or at least they ought to and that’s the point behind the lawsuit filed by Jonathan Daniel.

Jonathan Daniel says police, acting under the specific direction of Mayor Jim Ardis, violated his civil rights.

From March 9 through March 19, 2014, Mr. Daniel tweeted from a Twitter account, @peoriamayor, which used a picture of Jim Ardis (“Ardis”), the mayor of Peoria, as the account’s avatar. Displeased with the content of the tweets, Defendants embarked on a plan to shut down the account and identify and punish its creator in violation of his constitutional rights. As part of Defendants’ plan, Peoria Police Department officers searched Mr. Daniel’s residence, seized his personal property, reviewed personal information on Mr. Daniel’s electronic devices and in his mail, and arrested, detained, and interrogated Mr. Daniel purportedly for the crime of false personation of a public official.

Good for Jonathan Daniel for standing up for himself in the face of such blatant abuse of power.

If there is any sense of actual justice left in Illinois (and I wouldn’t bet on it given 3 separate judges issued search warrants in this case) then Jonathan Daniel’s win will be a slam-dunk.

 

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June 5, 2014

Bruce Montague’s Response to Forfeiture Order

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Mike Ackermann liked this post

By now you must all be aware of the ruling we received from the appeal court of Ontario a couple of days ago. I am not really surprised that we lost but I am surprised that they decided to increase my punishment by also stealing my ammunition.

As bad as this ruling is, our lawyers at the CCF (Canadian Constitution Foundation) found some encouraging aspects to it. There are a couple of legal principles we put forward and the court affirmed them. This not only should help if we appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada but it will also help others that get caught up in the snare of laws designed to persecute firearms owners. This is the first defeat we’ve taken that has some tangible pluses that will help gun owners in general.

My short explanation of one small legal victory is that the confiscation of my firearms and ammunition was indeed a punishment. Up until now it has never been considered a punishment, although to most people it seems obvious that losing your valuable property is indeed very punishing. This precedent should be helpful for others who are facing sentencing because now the value of the property should now be considered as part of the sentence. This may be a small plus, but you take what you can get.

Also on our side was a very strong bias shown by the court against firearms owners. This has been spotted in past rulings as many of you have commented on. Up until now we didn’t have any idea of how to address this. Things will change in future court hearings as a result. – – “Live and learn.”

I am quite surprised at how much media attention this ruling has gotten. Whatever the reason, I’m glad that this story is getting out. More people need to be aware of how easily the government and court system can take away your rights and your property. I’m hopeful that by the time we are in court fighting for our house, even non-gun owners will wake up to this travesty of justice.

The way in which the law is written in regards to taking our house (civil forfeiture laws), I don’t see any legal argument to stop them from taking it. We will be at the mercy of the courts, and so far I haven’t seen any mercy from them. The only chance I see us having is if the common people of this country speak up and say enough is enough!

I wish I had more promising news than this to report. I am reminded of what our past lawyer Doug Christie told me before he died. He told me that even if we don’t win in the courts we are still doing a positive thing for firearms owners and even the general population by standing up and fighting as long as possible. The people need to see these important issues argued because regardless of the courts ruling, each individual will have his own perception of whether justice was served. Sometimes losing in court will give you the best outcome in the long run. (It’s kind of like the Martyr effect.)

If you think this fight is worth fighting I would encourage you to visit the CCF website (http://www.theccf.ca) and make a donation. Now that the CCF has offered to represent us we now defer all donations to them. They are sincere and dedicated to doing a great job defending all our rights. Please let your non-gun owning friends see what can happen when you fall out of favour with our justice system.

Yours in Liberty,

Bruce Montague

P.S. I was in a discussion with my son who is a Lutheran pastor and this famous quote came up. It seemed quite applicable in this case because most people, if they are not gun owners don’t realize the threat this law is for everyone.

“In Germany they first came for the communists
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist.
They came for the Jews
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade Unionists
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

– -Pastor Martin Niemoller (Lutheran Pastor)

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June 4, 2014

Gunsmith Bruce Montague, Dr. Henry Morgentaler and Abortion Law

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Keltie Zubko, Mike Ackermann liked this post

That may seem an odd title but it will make sense shortly.

The Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision in R. v. Montague, 2014 ONCA 439, in which the government’s desire to seize Bruce Montague’s complete firearms and ammunition collection came to its unjust conclusion.

Ontario’s Court of Appeal heard arguments for and against the forfeiture of over $100,000 of firearms and ammunition on November 15, 2013. At that time they reserved judgment to give justices Feldman, Gillese and Tulloch time to rationalize the State’s cash grab.

Justice Feldman, writing the appeal court’s unanimous decision, took 32 pages to explain seizing Montague’s entire firearm collection and ammunition was not only constitutional, it was also rational and proportional to the “crime” Bruce and Donna Montague committed.

For those unfamiliar with this case, Bruce Montague traveled across Canada for 18 months seeking arrest for violating Canada’s Firearms Act. Being a man of principle he believed, as I do, that Canada’s Firearms Act violates the rights of those mere citizens who dare own firearms.

Montague believed a constitutional challenge of the Firearms Act would result in the court declaring it unconstitutional, forcing the government to write a more sensible and rational law, one that does not violate our constitutional rights.

So why did Bruce Montague allow both his business firearms license for his gunsmithing business and his personal firearms license expire?

To answer question that I need to step away from Bruce Montague’s case and go to Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the abortion issue and the legal term “standing”.

Prior to this ruling, section 251.9 of the Criminal Code,allowed for abortions to be performed at only accredited hospitals with the proper certification of approval from the hospital’s Therapeutic Abortion Committee.

Three doctors, Dr. Henry Morgentaler, Dr. Leslie Frank Smoling and Dr. Robert Scott, set up an abortion clinic in Toronto for the purpose of performing abortions on women who had not received certification from the Therapeutic Abortion Committee, as required under subsection 287(4) of the Criminal Code. In doing so they were attempting to bring public attention to their cause, claiming that a woman should have complete control over the decision on whether to have an abortion.

Abortion was illegal when Morgentaler first opened his Toronto abortion clinic, except in very specific cases and with very specific permissions required. Morgentaler disliked that, and wanted to challenge the constitutionality of Canada’s abortion statute but an individual cannot challenge a law, any law, unless they have what in legal terms is called “standing”.

This means unless the law will adversely affect you personally you have no right, or “standing”, to challenge the legislation. In other words, unless you are charged with breaking the law you have no standing to challenge the law in court.

So Henry Morgentaler broke the law. Repeatedly and across the country. He opened an abortion clinic, performed illegal abortions until police arrested him and charged him with a crime. He then posted bail and repeated the process in another process until his case eventually landed before the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Supreme Court struck down Canada’s abortion law, leaving Canada with no law on abortion at all to this day.

Henry Morgentaler is hailed a hero for his fight for “abortion rights”. He was awarded the Order of Canada “for his commitment to increased health care options for women, his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organizations.

In other words, for daring to violate Section 251 of the Criminal Code of Canada in order to make his point in court.

Without violating that law Henry Morgentaler did not have “standing” to challenge its constitutionality, which brings me back to Bruce Montague.

The issue the courts consistently refused to acknowledge is Bruce Montague specifically and deliberately broke the law in order to challenge the constitutionality of Canada’s Firearms Act, just as Henry Morgentaler did with Canada’s abortion law.

At every level of our justice system, from the Ontario Provincial Police (who used Bruce Montague’s gunsmithing services themselves) and Crown prosecutors to the trial judge, superior court judges and Court of Appeal judges, every single one attempted to paint Bruce Montague as a danger to society; a threat to the nation and a potential terrorist.

Not a single person in the entire justice system ever acknowledged Bruce Montague’s very public protests across the nation or his repeated and public statements against the Firearms Act.

Montague_PlacardThey simply branded him as a terrorist, a threat to public safety, and mainstream media outlets did what they do best; they parroted the party line on Bruce Montague even while running photographs of his public protests alongside their “articles”.

For example, the Court of Appeal in 2010 made this ludicrous statement, as though Bruce Montague actually intended to violently overthrow the government.

In September 2004, acting on the authority of two search warrants, the police seized more than 200 firearms and related devices, together with in excess of 20,000 rounds of ammunition and boxes of military­ related books and associated paraphernalia from the Montagues’ home. Many of these weapons were discovered in a hidden storage room in the basement of the house. It is fair to say that the quantity and nature of the seized arsenal of weapons and associated items may have been sufficient for a small-scale insurrection.

No, it is not.

Bruce Montague’s sole desire, as he stated repeatedly and publicly across the nation, was to challenge the constitutionality of a law he felt violated his Charter Rights and Freedoms. He was not preparing to mount a “small-scale insurrection“.

At no point would any level of our justice system acknowledge, just as the Ontario Court of Appeal refused to acknowledge in Monday’s ruling, that Bruce Montague could not challenge the constitutionality of a law without “standing”; without breaking the very law he disagreed with and be charged with a crime.

Henry Morgentaler did so and we rewarded him with the Order of Canada, citing “his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy”.

Bruce Montague’s “determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy” earned him 18 months in prison.

He also forfeits his life savings in firearms and ammunition (valued at over $100,000) and that still isn’t enough punishment as far as the government is concerned.

The Government of Ontario, under Ontario’s civil forfeiture law, will now steal the Montague’s family home and acreage valued at roughly $250,000.

By the time our government is done with Bruce and Donna Montague they will be penniless, homeless and jobless, and Canadian judges dare call this “justice“?

Only to fascist thugs who refuse to face the most fundamental fact of this entire case: Bruce Montague used civil disobedience in order to challenge the constitutionality of a bad law.

Anyone who believes Bruce Montague deserved to spend 18 months in prison, forfeit his entire life savings and now forfeit his home and acreage on top of it all clearly checked their humanity at the door.

Yes, I mean you, James McKeachie.

It is in no way “proportional” to the victimless paper crime committed by Bruce Montague. He refused to renew his firearms license. He refused to obtain registration certificates for his firearms. For this he will lose everything he worked his entire life for, including the beautiful log home he literally built with his own two hands.

[50] Some Canadian case-law has held that forfeiture will not be cruel and unusual punishment for someone who deliberately chooses to commit an offence that puts the particular property at risk, regardless of the value of the forfeited property in comparison to the gravity of the offence: see Turner v. Manitoba, 2001 MBCA 207, 160 Man. R. (2d) 256; R. v. Spence, 2004 NLSCTD 113, 238 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 259.

[51] In this case, it is most unfortunate for the appellants that they chose to challenge the firearms licensing laws by putting all their firearms at risk. However, in my view, the fact that it was their deliberate action that put so much property at risk is not the full reason why its forfeiture does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. It is because the forfeiture consequences cannot be viewed as grossly disproportionate or even disproportionate at all.

As I said earlier, there is no way to challenge the constitutionality of a law in Canada without breaking that law so you have “standing”.

That is not a choice to put your entire life savings, home and property “at risk”. It’s a decision to challenge an unjust law that unfairly penalizes Canada’s most law-abiding citizens: legal gun owners.

Seriously… who else must pass repeated police background checks and notify the government within 30 days of moving residences or face 2 years in prison?

Certainly not rapists and child molesters.

Forcing them to register is a violation of their civil rights.

Gun owners however, as evidenced by Bruce Montague’s case, have no civil rights. Rendering him penniless and homeless is a rational and proportional punishment for the crime of refusing to obtain a firearms license.

[59]Considering all the factors as they apply to the facts in this case, it cannot be said that the cumulative forfeiture of these weapons would outrage community standards of decency so as to amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

So says the Ontario Court of Appeals, who clearly don’t listen to the Montague’s community members or anyone in Canada’s vast firearms community. Every one of us are outraged at this cruel and unusual punishment that rendered the Bruce and Donna Montague penniless and will soon render them homeless as well.

But once again I forget; we’re gun owners. We are not part of the “community standards of decency“.

We’re lower than rapists and child molesters.

 

 

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June 3, 2014

Civil Asset Forfeiture and the Lack of Due Process

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I’ve written on civil asset forfeiture a lot lately and in response to my latest article, BC Civil Asset Forfeiture Office Proud to Steal From Mere Citizens, I received a email asking if I would post an information graphic on my website.

The infographic, created by ArrestRecords.com, goes into great detail of the abuses of civil asset forfeiture laws across the United States.

Some of the “low-lights” of civil asset forfeiture enforcement include, but are not limited to:

  • Most state and federal legislation laws allows law enforcement to keep up to 90% of what they take from citizens.
  • Only 8 states do not allow law enforcement to keep any of the proceeds
  • 26 states allow law enforcement to keep 100% of the assets they seize
  • In only 6 states must the government prove you are guilty of a crime before seizing your property. (Actually, this is now 7 as Minnesota just enacted civil forfeiture reform that requires government to prove guilt.)
  • From 1990 to 2005 the value of assets seized was relatively consistent at between $300 – $500 million
  • In 2006 this jumped to $841 million and that number has risen ever since
  • Despite 74% of we mere citizens believing property owners should be presumed innocent the vast majority of civil asset forfeiture laws, including all those here in Canada, presume you are guilty, even if you are never arrested of charged with an offense.

Civil Forfeiture

an infographic from ArrestRecords.com

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May 31, 2014

Civil Asset Forfeiture is “not traumatic” for defendants says Phil Tawtel

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Keltie Zubko liked this post

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My wife, bless her heart, cuts out articles from the newspaper for me. I’m sure she thinks she’s doing me a favour, but most of the time the articles she cuts out just make my blood boil, such as the article she cut out for me the other day titled “BC Forfeiture Office Defends Its Record” by Ian Mulgrew.

In Mulgrew’s article the head of of BC’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Program, one Phil Tawtel, pontificated at great length why he and his office perform such a “valuable service” to we mere citizens of British Columbia.

Mulgrew’s article containing Tawtel’s defense came in the wake of a number of high-profile civil forfeiture cases where the director had to backpedal. As stated in the article,

Over the past few weeks, Tawtel’s office threw in the towel against David Lloydsmith, a disabled Mission electrician fighting the seizure of his house. The BC Court of Appeal rejected the [civil forfeiture] office’s appeal of a lower court ruling that it defend a series of Charter breaches that occurred in the 2007 RCMP investigation into allegations Lloydsmith was growing marijuana.

While recognizing the law’s aim, the court worried about the imbalance between the province’s immense resources and those of defendants who don’t qualify for legal aid and may not have even been charged with a crime, but face complicated legal proceedings that could cast them dearly.

Since that decision, the director also settled two other cases in the media eye – one involving an older Burnaby couple whose property was in jeopardy despite a criminal court ruling that a forfeiture would be excessive, and another against a Nelson-area acreage owner who had not been charged [with any crimes].

Phil Tawtel believes, it appears, that every mere citizen of British Columbia is fair game, that we are cash machines he can withdraw from as he pleases.

Targeting individuals who have no connection to organized crime or gangs is just part of the job, and it serves them right for coming to his attention, or so his attitude says. In defending his zealous “interpretation” of BC’s civil asset forfeiture law he said,

How does the director apply fairness and proportionality? Certainly, from Day 1 that is o our mind, from day one when we are looking at a file… that’s key to us.

Really? It doesn’t look that way to anyone outside your office.

However, to answer your question on “fairness and proportionality” I would suggest, Mr. Tawtel, that you ask yourself this: If you were the one whose home your office is about to steal, would you think it was fair and proportional to the crime with which you were never even charged?

There is the answer to your question, and the honest answer of it is a far cry from your current belief.

The former Edmonton RCMP investigator said that some of the Charger breaches “on the surface are not egregious and its worth… seeing how it plays out.

Such a cavalier attitude towards the Charter Rights of we mere citizens is frightening. Launching civil forfeiture proceedings are no big deal… he says… we just want to see how it plays out.

Let me translate…

The Almighty State decreed through civil forfeiture legislation it can steal any property from any individual any time it wants. If I launch civil forfeiture proceedings against you it’s no big deal as you will have your day in court to explain yourself.

And a massive legal bill but that’s okay; it’s Phil Tawtel’s whim to see how your case “plays out”. Your suffering is inconsequential and of no relevance.

We mere citizens of British Columbia have good reason to be terrified. Power that great wielded without accountability is nothing if not traumatizing to the poor souls crushed under its weight.

Phil Tawtel does not see it that way, of course.

Far from traumatizing defendants, as lawyers claim, litigation provides an opportunity through the discovery process for them to explain, as in “I know what the police told you, but here is my side of the story,” Tawtel said. Though he added, “You often can’t get there and get their information until well after litigation has started.

Clearly Mr. Tawtel believes that, as a representative of government, he can do what he wants, when he wants, to any mere citizen. If we know what’s good for us we will simply bend over, muffle our cries of pain and say thank you when he’s finished.

Claiming civil forfeiture proceedings do not “traumatize defendants“, I’m sure Mr. Tawtel would view that far differently were it his home attacked by a BC Civil Forfeiture Office seizure order. He would suffer a great deal of trauma at that point. I’m also positive it will take such an action happening to him before Mr. Tawtel will grasp his actions against people, like a disabled electrician, are egregious, severe, cruel and yes, traumatic in the extreme.

They are making people’s lives a living hell for the period of the litigation and possibly forcing them into a settlement when they know it’s so difficult to prove they haven’t engaged in any wrongdoing,” fumed Lloydsmith’s lawyer Bibhas Vaze.

(Defendants) throw up their hands and give up. It’s really outrageous.

The Process Is The Punishment.

Suffer extortion by government decree or lose your home entirely.

As Bruce and Donna Montague’s case in Ontario proves, this is all about money and nothing else.

The Montague family home and acreage, valued at roughly $250,000 faces a seizure order under Ontario’s version of civil forfeiture, its Proceeds of Crime Act. In the Montague’s case government thieves graciously offered to “settle” the case if the Montagues agreed to pay $50,000 in extortion… er… I mean “settlement” fees.

But losing the home you built with your bare hands, as Bruce Montague did, to government extortionists is “not traumatic“, says Phil Tawtel.

Uh huh.

Mr. Tawtel, it appears, requires a new dictionary.

As disabled electrician David Lloydsmith’s lawyer stated it is impossible to “prove a negative”. You cannot, for example, prove a fish does not live in the stream running in front of your home. You can only prove it does when you find one. The absence of observable fish does not prove there are no fish.

The trouble with bullies is they never view themselves as bullies.

They always believe their actions are justified. That is even more true when the bully is civil asset forfeiture and those prosecuting the case get paid only when they are successful in seizing assets, as is the case here in BC. The financial incentive to go after any and all cases crossing your desk is overwhelming when your salary is tied directly to how many forfeiture cases you win.

I call it an environment ripe for abuse, which is precisely what is happening here in British Columbia, and that must change.

BC should follow Minnesota’s lead and reform its forfeiture laws so a criminal conviction is required before government can go after property through civil asset forfeiture. As I recently wrote:

Kudos to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton for signing this into law the moment it hit his desk.

This reform turns civil forfeiture on its head; something long overdue. Current legislation in every other jurisdiction, including here in Canada, requires you to prove you did NOT do something, rather than requiring the State to prove you committed a crime.

If you agree enforcement of BC’s civil asset forfeiture law is out of control then I urge you to speak with your MLA immediately and demand BC’s civil asset forfeiture laws are reformed to the Minnesota civil forfeiture standard.

You can read more about that standard here:

Minnesota Gets Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Right

 

 

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May 26, 2014

EFF Report- Who is Protecting Your Data from Government Requests?

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) constantly fights for our right to privacy on the Internet. It’s an organization every single person who values privacy ought to support financially, as they are continually beating back Leviathan when it comes to issues of personal privacy online.

In this fourth-annual report, EFF examines the publicly-available policies of major Internet companies—including Internet service providers, email providers, mobile communications tools, telecommunications companies, cloud storage providers, location-based services, blogging platforms, and social networking sites—to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data. The purpose of this report is to allow users to make informed decisions about the companies with whom they do business.

Their report titled “Who Has Your Back” (download PDF version) is a detailed investigation of which companies actively fight for your right to privacy and which companies don’t. They evaluated companies based on six criteria:

1. Require a warrant for content of communications.
2. Tell users about government data requests.
3. Publish transparency reports.
4. Publish law enforcement guidelines.
5. Fight for users’ privacy rights in courts.
6. Publicly oppose mass surveillance.

It’s a valuable report for you if you’re looking to vote with your dollars, something I highly recommend you do, and support only those companies who will support you, their customer.

These questions are even more important in the wake of the past year’s revelations about mass surveillance, which showcase how the United States government has been taking advantage of the rich trove of data we entrust to technology companies to engage in surveillance of millions of innocent people in the US and around the world. Internal NSA documents and public statements by government officials confirm that major telecommunications companies are an integral part of these programs. We are also faced with unanswered questions, conflicting statements, and troubling leaked documents which raise real questions about the government’s ability to access to the information we entrust to social networking sites and webmail providers.

There were some surprises on the list for me, as I was not aware of the pro-privacy stance of some of the companies listed. Others, like Twitter, Google and Microsoft, are companies I’ve written about repeatedly when their refusal to give up private information takes them to court at their own expense. That’s the true test of a company’s commitment to privacy really, isn’t it? Do they merely pay lip service to the notion or will they back it up with cold hard cash.

I was appalled but not surprised that both AT&T and ComCast routinely give up personal information without a warrant and pleased to see Amazon.com, Apple and Dropbox (among many others) all required a warrant first. All three of these companies also back up their belief in privacy with their own cash when they fight the government in court.

That’s a good thing.

The next largest single factor in the privacy battle is whether the company you deal with will tell you if the government is after your personal information. A shocking number of companies will not tell you this, including both the aforementioned AT&T and ComCast. For me, the fact ComCast “fights for users’ rights in court” is meaningless since they don’t require a warrant and won’t tell me if some government goon is after my personal information. But that’s just me, and I don’t use ComCast. Or AT&T.

We are pleased to announce that nine companies earned stars in every category: Apple, CREDO Mobile, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sonic, Twitter, and Yahoo. In addition, six companies earned stars in all categories except a court battle: LinkedIn, Pinterest, SpiderOak, Tumblr, Wickr, and WordPress. We are extremely pleased to recognize the outstanding commitment each of these companies has made to their users.

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May 22, 2014

Facebook Photo Equals Child Abuse? When a Firearm is Visible… Absolutely!

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Mike Ackermann, Robert Bailey liked this post

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Imagine the scenario.

You post an innocent photo of your son holding a rifle on Facebook. Your son is 11 years old. He is well trained in firearm safety by you. His finger is off the trigger in the photo, just as it should be.

Some pathetic crybaby sees the photo online and calls the New Jersey Department of Children and Families who, in turn, contact the police.

Both agencies raid your home and attempt to search it. They demand to see your gun safe and all your firearms for “inspection”. When you refuse to accede to their ridiculous demands because they don’t have a search warrant these so-called authorities label you “unreasonable” and “uncooperative” and say you act “suspiciously”.

Imagine that.

Stand up for your rights and you are “unreasonable”.

Demand police respect your rights and you are “suspicious” and “uncooperative”.

Rights are inviolate. Police thugs hate that. Good cops don’t, of course, because they respect your rights but those aren’t the type of police at your door late this night.

However, the police finally do leave, but not before threatening to take your children away from you.

This is no fable; no mere story.

This is precisely the violation Shawn Moore, an NRA-certified firearms instructor and range safety officer, faced last year when some whining little ninny saw a photo on Facebook of Shawn’s son holding a rifle.

In their rush to abuse a law-abiding firearm owner these police state thugs failed to obtain a search warrant. Actually, the more likely scenario is no judge with functional brain cells would issue a search warrant based on such flimsy and absurd “evidence.”

Clearly all common sense vacated the puny brains of the minions at the New Jersey Department of Children and Families and their counterparts in the police department.

Nanny State Minion Kristen Brown, aka spokesperson for New Jersey Department of Children and Families, parroted the usual tripe about “duty” while not comprehending the meaning of the word.

“The department has a child abuse hotline for the state of New Jersey and anybody can make a call to that hotline. We are required to follow up on every single allegation that comes into the central registry. In general our role is to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect.”

An anonymous phone call complaining of a Facebook photo of a child holding a rifle is considered an allegation of child abuse?

How absurd.

 

 

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May 20, 2014

Thomas Harding and the Heavy Hand of Surete du Quebec’s Police State Thugs

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Thomas Harding, as you may know, is the engineer of the train carrying oil that derailed in Lac Megantic, Quebec, leveling the town with the resulting explosion and fire. From the date of that terrible tragedy Thomas Harding avoided public comment at every turn. He cooperated with police and accident investigators fully and completely.

Through his lawyer he even made it clear if he was charged with a crime he would turn himself in willingly.

Such willingness to face the music, to be accountable for one’s actions in such a horrific case as this shows me Thomas Harding must be a man of great character. Whatever his role in the disaster, his steadfast and unwavering determination to be held accountable for his actions that fateful day is to be respected and admired. Few have such courage.

That is precisely the kind of principled man Surete du Quebec thugs humiliated with their high-profile SWAT takedown on May 12th, 2014, at his home in Farnham, Quebec.

Over-compensating for their incredible lack of humanity and armed with both delusions of grandeur and fully-automatic weapons, Surete du Quebec thugs tossed Thomas Harding, his son and a visitor to the ground before they handcuffed him and hauled him off to jail.

It’s no wonder police get stonewalled by actual criminals when they treat a citizen cooperating fully with investigators this atrociously. What incentive is there when no matter how properly you conduct yourself you are still subjected to a heavy-handed, make that obscene display of police power?

Through the media, Surete du Quebec thugs gave a pathetic rationalization for their appalling behaviour, as though they were actually in the right. They were not.

Claiming Mr. Harding unlawfully possessed firearms and spoke of suicide, they acted.

What they conveniently failed to explain is why, if they truly believed Mr. Harding possessed firearms illegally, did they not obtain a search warrant and remove those firearms instead of leaving them in his possession for months?

Most days I feel pretty good about being a Canadian citizen but, upon reading of the treatment of Thomas Harding at the hand of Surete du Quebec thugs carrying their badges and guns, I must confess today is not one of those days.

I am revolted, seeing police resources abused so callously in the name of “public safety” and “concern” for Mr. Harding.

Concern for a person’s well being isn’t usually expressed by pointing a fully-automatic rifle into his face, handcuffing him and hauling him off to jail for a 10-hour interrogation. At least not by my dictionary, and I hope not yours either.

The most troubling aspect of the very public and theatrical arrest of Thomas Harding is that it wasn’t about Thomas Harding at all. This very public shaming and humiliation, while Thomas Harding was the recipient of this abuse, it was not intended for him.

It was intended for you and me, the mere citizens of Canada.

Step out of line and thugs with badges and guns will do the same to us.

Am I over-reacting? I doubt it.

I’m sure some will not agree, however. If you’re one of those people I would ask you to ask yourself one simple question.

Put yourself in Thomas Harding’s shoes.

After you’ve made it clear to police you will turn yourself in whenever you are asked, is it reasonable for authorities to order a “high-risk takedown” by SWAT instead of simply calling you on the phone and saying, “Hey Mr. Harding, would you please come down to the station so we can process your arrest?

If you answer in the affirmative, then I must seriously question your humanity as I have already questioned that of the badge-wearing thugs of the Surete du Quebec.

 

 

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May 18, 2014

Minnesota’s Courageous Reform of Civil Asset Foreiture Law

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Five years ago scandal over the horrific abuse of Minnesota’s civil asset forfeiture law rocked the state. Their Metro Gang Strike Force (disbanded in the wake of the scandal) among others, grossly abused the power given them by the state’s civil forfeiture legislation, giving way to these reforms.

The Metro Gang Strike Force didn’t care who they stole from. Anyone was fair game for this corrupt band of legalized criminals. If they saw something they wanted they simply took it, leaving the victim of their predation at the mercy of a system tilted against them.

Evidence of crime? Why bother when the legislation allowed them to steal with impunity. To quote Jason Snead and Andrew Kloster’s article on the issue,

Minnesota residents became ATMs and their living rooms became convenience stores. After all, someone needed to finance strike force trips to Hawaiian conferences and supply agents with television sets.

But the whole scheme came crashing down. Amid federal and state investigations, the strike force was shut down and some $840,000 in settlements was paid out to those whose property had been wrongfully seized. Other legal actions netted millions in settlements.

Instead of the half-baked attempts at civil forfeiture reform in other jurisdictions Minnesota didn’t shrink from its duty to its citizens. It tackled civil asset forfeiture reform with courage and conviction, and did it properly.

Minnesota’s landmark civil forfeiture reform means police agencies can no longer victimize mere citizens at will and with impunity. As of now, law enforcement can no longer seize property from mere citizens unless there is either a criminal conviction or an admission of guilt.

While police may still profit from successful civil forfeitures, the new conviction requirement will add a layer of protection against the sort of evidence-less roadside shakedowns seen elsewhere. The state will also bear the burden of proving wrongdoing in any civil forfeiture case by clear and convincing evidence.

Kudos to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton for signing this into law the moment it hit his desk.

This reform turns civil forfeiture on its head; something long overdue. Current legislation in every other jurisdiction, including here in Canada, requires you to prove you did NOT do something, rather than requiring the State to prove you committed a crime.

Guilty until proven innocent is not the way western justice works. It’s the other way around.

Of course, forcing a person to prove they did not commit a crime makes it far easier for law enforcement… All that “innocent until proven guilty” crap takes far too much time and resources, right?

What we require now is for every other jurisdiction in North America to follow Minnesota’s lead.

If we are to stop the legalized theft of money and property from unwitting citizens for no reason whatsoever this simply must happen.

 

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May 17, 2014

Civil Asset Forfeiture Finally Hits The Right Mark

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Justice comes in many forms, but the delicious irony of the seizure of a former Sheriff’s vehicle using civil asset forfeiture law is almost too good to be true.

This past January in New Mexico 21-year-old Sylvia Solano crashed her car into a brick wall. A breathalyser test pegged her blood-alcohol level at 3 times the legal limit and police booked her for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). They also seized her vehicle using civil forfeiture law after determining this was Sylvia Solano’s second DWI offense.

Funny thing is… the 2003 BMW she crashed wasn’t Sylvia’s vehicle at all; it belonged to her father, former Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano.

The story gets even better.

While in office back in 2006 Sheriff Greg Solano advocated extensively to use civil forfeiture law to seize vehicles from repeat drunk drivers. Yes, including vehicles not belonging to the drunk driver, as in his daughter’s case.

Karma is a bitch, and she bites hard some days, doesn’t she Greg Solano?

While I certainly don’t condone drink driving, I do enjoy seeing one of law enforcement’s finest getting bit by the law he fought so hard to pass.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot Greg Solano no longer sees the law as “fair” or “just”. Suddenly the very law he fought so hard to pass, and used to his department’s financial benefit, is now a “violation of a car owner’s due process rights.”

Hypocrite is obviously Greg Solano’s middle name.

Back when Solano held the office of Sheriff of Santa Fe County he didn’t value the property rights of we “mere citizens” at all. He seized the property of innocent people all the time and did it with a smile on his face.

Now that it’s his ox being gored it’s a whole different ballgame.

Gotta love the hypocrisy of it all, not to mention the incredibly delicious irony!

 

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May 11, 2014

Russ Caswell, Civil Forfeiture and a Little Common Sense

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Russ Caswell, now 70, spent the last two years fighting local, state and federal agencies over who owns Motel Caswell, the motel owned by his family since 1955.

I first wrote about Russ Caswell and his civil asset forfeiture nightmare on July 1, 2012 when his case broke internationally. From that article:

It is now, like many older motels across the nation, home to lower-income people such as seniors, as well as temporary workers who pay by the week or month.

While rates to stay there are not expensive, there is one thing the motel has that is very valuable to the thieving local police department and the thieving federal government that’s helping the thieving local police department: equity.

Caswell owns the property outright.

Why is this significant? Since Caswell’s property has no mortgage the State can keep the entire proceeds of the sale of the property after they steal it from him. Of course they don’t call it theft or stealing… they call it cracking down on crime.

In the case of Russ Caswell, it makes absolutely no difference that he has never been charged with a crime. In fact, it’s not any actions of his that concerns the thieving police and federal justice department.

It’s the actions of roughly 30 patrons of his motel over the past 18 years who have been arrested on drug charges. That’s right. Since 1994 approximately 30 people have been arrested on drug charges.

The US Justice Department and its thieving local counterpart, the Tewksbury Police Department, contend that Caswell is responsible for what people do in his motel rooms every minute of every day. His motel rooms were used to “facilitate” the crime of drug dealing, therefore the motel is guilty and must be seized as proceeds of crime.

Police and government officials, thieving scumbags each and every one, decided that Caswell’s property should be theirs so they set out to steal the Caswell family motel using one of the most abused laws ever devised: civil asset forfeiture.

The notion that you can “take the profit out of crime” by seizing the assets of criminals seems noble enough, but only if you accept without question the rhetoric and sound-bytes used to sell this atrocious legislation.

You may never be charged with a crime, let alone be convicted of one, before government thieves seize your property. That ought to terrify even the most law-abiding and pro-government among us.

In Caswell’s case thieving police and prosecutors don’t care that Caswell never committed a crime. That’s entirely beside the point.

The accusation against Russ Caswell isn’t that he didn’t do enough to help police crack down on crime in his motel. That is utter garbage if not an outright lie. Russ Caswell installed video cameras, recorded license plate numbers and customer identification, gave police free rooms for their sting operations… in fact he did everything ever asked of him by law enforcement.

That wasn’t enough. Now the Tewksbury Police Department thieves, along with state and federal counterparts, insist the Caswell’s must give up their home and livelihood too.

“I’ve found, which is kind of hard to believe, but I’m responsible for the action of people I don’t even know, I’ve never even met, and for the most part I have no control over them,” Caswell said in court. “And I have to rent them a room unless I have a real good reason not to or I get accused of discrimination and that kind of thing.”

“And when they do something wrong, the government wants to steal my property for the actions of those people, which to me makes absolutely no sense,” he added. “It’s more like we’re in Russia or Venezuela or something.”

The government thieves have three things on their side:

1. You need never be charged with or convicted of a crime, so that pesky issue of your guilt need never be addressed,

2. Police and Prosecutors keep most of the money and assets they seize. Legislation is often written giving police and prosecutors 100% of what they steal, and

3. The burden of proof is far lower for a civil action than a criminal prosecution. Under civil asset forfeiture police and prosecutors must never prove guilt, obtain a conviction or even file criminal charges before they seize private property. The term “on a balance of probabilities‘ is the phrase used to rationalize theft of private property.

This turns the notion of justice on its head. The accused must prove they did not commit a crime. How you prove you haven’t done something is… well… beside the point, right? Proving a negative isn’t possible.

Really, who cares, right? It’s just drug dealers and criminals they’re going after, not decent, law-abiding citizens. It’s not like they’re stealing your home, right?

Wrong. So utterly and completely wrong. The Caswell family didn’t do anything wrong. In fact they did everything asked of them by law enforcement. That wasn’t enough, and there is a very simple explanation for why.

Follow the money. It’s always about the money.

Statistics from the United States are utterly terrifying.

In 1985, the U.S. Department of Justice created its Asset Forfeiture Fund. One year later, the fund — which holds the proceeds from seized property and is available to be divvied out to law enforcement agencies — brought in $93.7 million. In 2008, the amount had ballooned to $1.6 billion. In 2013, it reached $6.3 billion.

The incentive here is cash. Boatloads of cash. Cash for police departments and prosecutors’ offices. Cash that is used to pad government budgets because government must always get bigger, not smaller, when it’s not being used to pay lavish expenses for corrupt prosecutors, that is.

An investigation conducted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution looked into how funds over a five-year period were spent in Georgia. According to the newspaper, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard spent thousands of dollars gleaned from civil forfeitures on pricey dinners and an elaborate home security system for himself. In November 2009, he allegedly paid $800 to rent out a movie theater. Three months later, Howard told his employees they’d have to take 10 furlough days due to budget constraints.

In Caswell’s case it’s very simple. The annual budget of the Tewksbury Police Department is just $5.5 million.

Motel Caswell is valued at $1.5 millon.

Get the picture?

The greedy thugs of the Tewksbury Police Department saw a way to raise over 25% of their annual budget with the theft of a single property.

These greedy little pigs desperately need a refresher in Peel’s 9 Principles of Policing.

The concept of a limited government is so old fashioned, isn’t it? It shouldn’t be. The goal of every responsible government is to pare down its thievery from we mere citizens, not expand it to the point we have nothing left to feed the monstrous behemoth.

Civil forfeiture laws in America are almost 3 decades old. That’s a generation of police and prosecutors used to stealing from we mere citizens whenever the mood strikes them. At $6.3 billion stolen from mere citizens in 2013 alone, the mood clearly strikes them regularly.

In Russ Caswell’s case a federal judge finally applied some common sense to his situation.

After a four-day trial, on Jan. 24, 2013, a federal judge in Boston dismissed the forfeiture action against the motel, ruling that the government engaged in “gross exaggeration” of the evidence and did not have authority to seize the property.

In short, both police and multiple layers of government overstepped their bounds. Again. They chose their greed ahead of their duty and responsibility to those mere citizens whom they feel free to abuse so mercilessly.

Larry Salzman, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, took on Caswell’s case pro bono.

“You breed a culture of ‘take first, ask questions later,’” Larry Salzman, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, told FoxNews.com. “It’s thuggish behavior.”

Absolutely.

The attempted theft of Motel Caswell from Russ Caswell and his family is, as the title of the free book from The Institute for Justice says, nothing more than Policing for Profit: the Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture.

I urge you to download and read this free book from The Institute for Justice. Then contact your elected representative and demand they reform civil asset forfeiture law in your jurisdiction. Don’t kid yourself. It will be an uphill battle. Police and government look at civil asset forfeiture as “free money” and they won’t give it up willingly.

Here in British Columbia, for example, the cash incentive is the primary motivation for civil asset forfeiture. The government doesn’t handle the thefts itself, however. It farms out the work to other lawyers.

Here’s the catch though… those lawyers only get paid if they are successful in stealing property from some hapless mere citizen. It matters not whether that person is an actual criminal or not…

Private property should never be forfeited unless it is proven in a court of law that a crime was committed and that the individual in question profited from that crime. This would, of course, require we drag our justice system back to its noble beginnings.

Remember the days where you were innocent until proven guilty in a court of law?

Don’t be absurd, Christopher! That’s so…. last century

Yet today, the government in America seems more like the former enemies we vanquished than the place of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness the Framers established.

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

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May 10, 2014

Are you offended by something I said?

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The problem with some folks is they can’t accept the fact an opinion exists of which they don’t approve. Freedom of speech is okay but only if you agree with their opinions.  The problem with politicians is they feel compelled to pander to the people who cannot accept another’s point of view.

Combine the two (incessant whiners and politicians) and you get nightmares like the Canadian Human Rights Act and Section 318 of the Criminal Code, both of which create special status for “special” people, leaving the rest of us mere citizens out in the cold.

Not only are we left out in the cold, we now have the full weight of government to contend with any time we say something one of the protected class of whiners doesn’t like.

Shockingly, one isn’t required to be a member of a protected class in order to file a complaint on their behalf. ‘I’m outraged for you’ appears to be the operational basis here, and a very profitable one for some.

Try saying anything outside of the mainstream politically-correct view about any of the following folks and you will quickly discover the error of believing you actually have a Right to Freedom of Speech:

“any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.”

As in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, some pigs are truly more equal than others.

White heterosexual Christian males need not apply, however. You are NOT one of the “protected classes” of people despite having an actual religion, sexuality and race. Put another way, you’re not quite as equal as others.

Am I saying every member of these protected groups is a whiner? Of course not. I blame gutless politicians for pandering to special interest groups more than I do those lobbying on their behalf.

To live is to offend someone, somewhere along the way. Do we really need a group of bureaucratic thugs to beat us into submission simply because our view of the world is different than theirs?

Here in Canada the answer is a resounding YES!

Ask Marc Lemire, Connie Fournier or Arthur Topham. Each of these individuals suffered the crushing weight of bureaucratic excess, and often for sentiments they never even wrote.

Marc Lemire faces a lifetime free speech ban for an article posted on his website. He didn’t write the article. He didn’t even post the article himself, yet the screaming banshees at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal consider him more of a threat to the “Canadian way of life” than… well pretty much any violent criminal.

To date the Canadian people have wasted over a quarter million dollars prosecuting Marc Lemire… and for what? An article he didn’t even write that was read by perhaps 10 people worldwide?

Connie Fourier finally shuttered FreeDominion.ca after being found guilty of defamation of serial human rights complainant Richard Warman. The final straw for Ms. Fournier was the condition she be held liable for any negative comments made by anyone, at any time in the future, about Richard Warman.

That ruling’s phrasing would even allow Richard Warman, for example, to log onto FreeDominion.ca and post something negative about himself and still trigger the full weight of the law on Ms. Fournier. It’s utterly absurd for Connie Fournier to he beld accountable for the comments of another, yet that’s now the law of the land here in Canada.

Arthur Topham wrote something about someone or some group of someones that offended another someone who complained to both the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the RCMP. Arthur Topham now faces charges under both the Canadian Human Rights Act and Section 319(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Nobody will tell Topham what he wrote that was so offensive. Instead they demand he defend everything he ever wrote from six months before his arrest until… well.. whenever he might finally get his day in court. That’s right. Every word Mr. Topham writes until his trial can and will be used by Crown prosecutors to show what a heinous threat he is to both the Canadian Way of Life and The World as We Know It.

Yeah, there’s justice for you!

While I would hope our Canadian skins are thick enough to tolerate offensiveness in others… apparently we can only tolerate our own offensiveness. That our attitudes may actually offend others is completely missed in the rush to fend off some perceived slight.

Like Stephen Fry so bluntly said, if you’re offended by what I say, “…so fucking what?”

Get over yourself already.

Dismantle every so-called “human rights” tribunal and commission across Canada. If they were ever needed (I doubt it) their “best before” date expired long ago and are now simply vehicles for punishing those with whom we disagree.

Abusing our fellow citizen is not a “Canadian value” simply because we disagree with what he or she says.

Or at least it shouldn’t be.

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May 5, 2014

Ken Thompson Loved His Children by Brian Bedard

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I admit I never gave much thought to Family Law. Like many people looking from the outside in, I figured our court system was designed to serve justice, and I thought that people who complained about it were probably just disgruntled about their own obligations. I was brought up to take responsibility for my actions and to respect authority. Of course, once I myself was thrust into the family courts, I quickly learned that not all authority respects me.

Now that I find myself part of the growing cry for the reform of our Family Court system, people often share emotional stories with me about how this system has treated them. I always try to remind myself that for every story there are two sides. But in fact, there are more than two sides whenever children are involved.

And I am seeing more and more of the impetus for reform coming from the very children who were left to grow up with the decisions of our dysfunctional system. They are realizing what was taken from them, and they are asking questions.

Ken Thompson Loved His Children by Brian BedardTrena Thompson, now a mother herself, is one of those children. She has been speaking out in honour of her late father, Ken Thompson. She is not only talking about systemic abuse, she has the documents to prove it. After his death, Trena discovered that her father had hidden over 500 of his documents amongst her own files. It is a paper trail which tells clearly the story of one of the worst cases of abuse of power orchestrated against a man whose only wish was to be a dad.

Trena wants her father to be honoured and recognized as a hero to all other parents who have endured such oppression.

He saved his files for a reason, stuck them in with mine to help us all. I want to see that it is used as a perfect example as to how flawed the current system is.

The systemic collapse of justice in the town of Sarnia is more than evident in the fact that Trena’s father was given two different identities. Two names were submitted: Kenneth John Thompson and John K. Thompson. And this led to two different case numbers being created by the Family Responsibility Office, which in turn resulted in the demand for two different child support payments from the same man. His attempts to correct this deceitful error went on for years.

The Family Responsibility Office was relentless in its efforts to collect the extra payments, disregarding what should have been a simple clerical error, and sending him back to court where lawyers and judges failed to question or prevent the ongoing disparagement of his character.

Every time Ken Thompson took steps to free himself from the dysfunctional system, he was punished. Lawyers filed documents suggesting that he was mentally ill when he wrote letters asking to visit his own children.

Trena grew up being told

“Your dad is going to steal you… you should run away whenever you see him.”

Furthermore, false allegations of sexual abuse were put forward, effectively discrediting him.

Ken Thompson died of a myocardial infraction, which is a technical term for a heart attack, but I think it really is as simple as calling it a broken heart.

Without a doubt in my mind both heart attacks were induced by the stress, false allegations and fraud the courts were putting him through. The oppression of it all is enough to make the strongest sick. My dad used to always ride a bike, ate healthy, and had his black belt. His first heart attack came a year and a half after the first allegation of him sexually abusing me. Breaks my heart because I know my dad didn’t do that,” says Trena, in a video she made to courageously share his story.

She is determined to continue his struggle for justice, because even after all these years, the system has not changed.

As I consider Trena’s case, I have questions I cannot answer. How does something like this happen? Why are good parents treated like guilty deadbeats?

Ken Thompson loved his children. He worked earnestly to provide for them. Plenty of good people face divorce. And good people want to take care of their children. When they go to Family Court seeking resolution, why are they served with retribution?

When the Family Responsibility Office was mandated to enforce court-ordered family support payments, it was handed exceptional power. As long as their procedural requirements are met, FRO employees are allowed to blindly disregard basic human respect and compassion. And they will be the first to tell you that it is the Family Court that hands them the paperwork needed to wield this power. It is much like a bulldozer set in motion without consideration as to what may be in its path.

But who takes responsibility for the effects of a biased court ruling? Is it up to a cash-strapped parent to siphon more of their funds into the system and away from their children? Where does someone turn when mistakes are made? We have no checks and balances. There is nothing to protect a parent from being villainized by an emotional ex-spouse. There is no way to ensure that the court’s decisions are fair.

Judges and lawyers too often benefit from motivation that has little to do with the well-being of the children. Make no mistake: children are hurt when the very people that should be keeping them safe from harm are allowed to use them as a possession.

Personally, I have asked more than one Family Law lawyer whether they feel our current system is flawed. “Off the record”, they readily agree that it is. But when I’ve asked them why they don’t speak up and become a part of the solution instead of the problem, the conversation always ceases. I guess, after all, lawyers thrive on conflict. It’s a plain fact that the more complicated the case, the more money the lawyers make.

Judges are not motivated to make changes either. A cookie cutter approach facilitated by no-fault divorce seems to have made their job simple.

And this is another question I cannot answer: If the divorce act is a no-fault system, why are allegations even considered in Family Court to begin with?

Indeed, if a serious allegation such as sexual abuse has been put on the table, does this not deserve to be addressed in Criminal Court? And then if a conviction is made, such information can be entered into the Family Court case with true authority to protect the innocent.

On the other hand, where is the protection from a parent who is committing the offence of false allegations? Should mere allegations be all that is required for a child to be taken away from a parent?

Parental alienation creates lifelong scars. From Trena Thompson’s perspective, the Family Court ultimately alienated her from both of her parents. She was deprived of her father because of unsubstantiated allegations and her mother was taken from her by the adversarial approach that our Family Court thrives on.

I hope this whole situation is used as a example as to why they must stop creating and enabling conflict within families,” she comments.

Trena also recalls her dad’s integrity through it all.

“In all the years my mom hurt my dad he never spoke ill of her, just honestly. He would always tell me that she was not always like that.”

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March 30, 2014

Are Family Courts used to Strip Men of their Rights and Freedoms?

Ontario-Family-Law-Act-PFTR

Guest Editorial by Brian Bedard

“In the past quarter century, we exposed biases against other races and called it racism, and we exposed biases against women and called it sexism. Biases against men we call humour.”

Dr. Warren Farrell, “Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say”

parent-alienation-equal-parenting720The subjugation of men in the Family Courts is prevalent across Canada. The Family Law Act in Ontario is supposed to encourage and strengthen the role of the family, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

This is a systemic problem that is not only creating financial hardship for families, but is costing our society the ultimate currency of lives.Men in Ontario are 3.2 times more likely to commit suicide than women. Ask anyone who has been through the system and you can be sure they will have a horror story that will scare you to death.

Bill C-560, An Act to amend the Divorce Act (equal parenting),  is only the tip of the iceberg, addressing one problem only: equal parenting.

Bill C-560 Summary:

This enactment amends the Divorce Act to replace the concept of “custody orders” with that of “parenting orders”. It instructs judges, when making a parenting order, to apply the principle of equal parenting unless it is established that the best interests of the child would be substantially enhanced by allocating parental responsibility other than equally.

Presently there is no accountability in the system because we have been forced to subscribe to a no-fault divorce approach. To infer that no one is at fault in the breakdown of a marriage allows the courts to use a cookie cutter approach to resolve conflict, which is only a matter of convenience for the courts.

While the purpose behind the no-fault divorce was to facilitate a clean break resolution, the reality is that every case that makes its way to Family Court is unique and should be decided on its merits.

Mediation should be the primary means of conflict resolution and the courts should only be used to decide outstanding issues after exhausting other avenues.

Accusations are not facts.

It is common practice to inundate court documents with allegations of abuse. Terms like “passively aggressive” or “mental and verbal abuse” are tossed around freely without having to substantiate any of these claims. This approach deliberately puts the other party on the defensive right from the start.

Past practice has been to make false allegations and use them to award one parent custody. I suggest that if there is any allegation of abuse it is to be taken seriously and dealt with in the criminal courts where facts trump allegations.

Once dealt with in the criminal courts, then Family Court would be dealing only with facts and not allegations, which would help to ensure the protection of the children. If children are involved they have to be the priority no matter what.

Divorce has become an industry in itself, financially exploiting hard-working families, and filling the pockets of those who abuse the court system.

For example, another common practice is to use a 20-year marriage as a cash-for-life proposition (even though there is nothing in the Divorce Act which actually specifies lifetime payments be made on a marriage of 20 years or over). This is clearly discrimination, and it amounts to modern day slavery.

Spousal support is intended to relieve economic hardship arising from the breakdown of the marriage and promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time. Having to make lifetime payments is not reasonable.

I would suggest using the formula of 6 months per year of marriage. For example, if a couple were married for 20 years, spousal support would be terminated after 10 years of payments. This provides ample time for self sufficiency and also allows the payor to have some type of future.

The court should also ensure that the recipient spouse does not perpetuate this support by refusing to go to work or to retrain.

Spousal support is not a career choice.

Any person who works hard to provide for their family should be respected, not treated like a potential “deadbeat”. Opting in to Family Responsibility Office should be the standard in Ontario. No one should be forced to participate in a system that is flawed.

In my case, it took 67 days for Family Responsibility Office to provide me with a case number, and this automatically placed me in the “arrears” category, which gave them the power to garnishee my wages. I had to fight to have this error corrected.

When I requested information through the Freedom of Information Act from Family Responsibility Office, I met with not only roadblocks but threats.

I would suggest a comprehensive review of the Family Responsibility Office, and a means to hold them accountable for their actions.

This is but a short list of my concerns.

It is very clear that the Divorce Act needs to be modernized to reflect the families of today.
Ask anyone with experience in this area of law if they think Family Law provides justice and I venture to say that the overwhelming answer would be “No”.

Brian Bedard
Courtright, Ontario

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