by Jane Gaffin
(Since this article was originally published in the Whitehorse Star, January 18, 2002, the federal government has come a long way in creating mass brainwashing and hysteria by incrementally demonizing fictitious boogeymen known as gun owners and terrorists from whom the public clamors stupidly for bureaucratic badge-bearing bullies to protect and keep them safe from harm; courts are going so far as to render convictions against responsible citizens who “might” commit a crime in the future, and judges’ predictions are often based on nothing more than invisible laws that don’t even exist. JG)
Yukon, Northwest Territories, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta joined forces in 1995 to oppose registration and other parts of the odious gun-control bill.
I don’t recall the Ontario government, Law Society of Upper Canada or even the Federation of Law Societies of Canada coming onside to protest the-then Justice minister Allan Rock’s contention that only state agents should have firearms.
The people-control legislation, disguised as the Canadian Firearms Act, was the important tool to carry forth the Liberals’ plans to socially re-engineer Canada.
Rock’s stance to ban private ownership was backed up by well-known Toronto-based lawyer Clayton Ruby in a CBC radio interview.
“Nobody needs guns,” Ruby declared, but qualified his remarks by conceding police, military, and, er, maybe aboriginal subsistence hunters.
His shallow thinking would eliminate guns carried for self-protection by those working in the wilds. No white folks would have guns to hunt food, regardless of how remote a setting they lived in.
Guns carried by bush pilots and big-game outfitters would be out of the question. So would be competitive shooting teams. Museums wouldn’t have guns as historic artifacts. Nobody would own a gun for its craftsmanship or as a family heirloom.
Yet government agents, many who do not have a gun culture, would have licence to pack guns for people-control.
As the gun-control issue crescendoed, I latched onto a list from a lawyer specializing in gun law. It outlined how drastically the firearms legislation interferes with fundamental rights and freedoms, gun owner or not:
1. It dashes the right to own private property by giving police the authority to confiscate personal property without dispensing due process of law, fair and natural justice and timely compensation.
2. Nobody is protected against unreasonable search and seizure. Police can enter, search and seize without a warrant, even when a crime is not known nor suspected.
3. It removes the right to remain silent by authorizing police to threaten you with a criminal charge if you don’t give reasonable assistance and provide information.
4. Reverse onus applies. A person is deemed guilty until he can somehow prove innocence of some trumped-up charge.
5. A person does not have right to legal counsel before consenting to a police inspection of any place, or a warrantless search of a home.
6. The law removes the democratic right to representation in Parliament. Regulations, which need no public scrutiny, are passed and modified secretly in a backroom by orders in council.
7. The law gives the government authority to exempt aboriginals from certain provisions or impose stricter controls by disarming whole reserves.
8. It encroaches on the right to privacy by authorizing police to conduct inspections and searches in your home, even if you aren’t a gun owner.
9. It tramples the right to freedom of association. The government can prohibit you from owning firearms because you live with or are an associate of someone already prohibited from owning a gun.
To top it off, the legislation authorizes the creation of extra police officers in case the regular force was slack in doing damage to your fundamental rights and freedoms.
How can evil legislation pass both the Commons and Senate that is so dramatically counter-opposed to the “Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”?
Anne McLellan, Justice minister until last Tuesday’s cabinet shuffle (Jan. 15/02), has been known to shrug. She believes that justice comes out in the wash after winding your way through five years of appeals courts.
But how does the accused pay? There is no public funding available for the ordinary citizen who has any assets or whose assets may be frozen, nor is there any recompense upon acquittal. The whole thing flies in the face of all constitutional rights.
The Charter sets out and guarantees rights and freedoms subject only to such “reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”.
Everyone is guaranteed freedom of conscience and religion; thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; peaceful assembly; and freedom of association.
Everyone has the legal right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure and the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.
Anyone who is arrested or detained, has the right to be informed promptly of the reasons; to retain and instruct counsel without delay, and to be informed of that rights; and to have validity of the detention determined by way of “habeas corpus” and to be released if the detention is not lawful.
Any person charged with an offence has a guaranteed right to be informed without unreasonable delay of the specific offence, be tried within a reasonable time, as well as to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Re-enter Clayton Ruby, whose by-line appeared on a December 11, 2001 Globe and Mail article headed “When Lawyers Should Fight the Law”.
Howdy, Clayton! A bit slow on the uptake, huh? But the bullet just hit the bone. He fears the threat of terrorism is impelling Canadians to give up or distort their fundamental rights and democratic freedoms.
My! My! Where was he and the 31,000 Ontario lawyers and the total 81,000 who comprise the umbrella Canadian Federation of Law Societies, of which he speaks, when, in 1995 forward, five other jurisdictions and civil-rights advocates were protesting the Liberals’ Draconian invasion into everybody’s guaranteed rights and freedoms?
Was Ruby merely endorsing gun control back then as an authoritative voice on the Canadian Brainwashing Corporation to back up his Liberal cronies? Evidently, because the lead sentence in the Globe article states:
“Lawyers tend to go along with government.”
Aargh! But, if so, why the change of heart, honey? If lawyers didn’t care that the government seriously eroded the rules of law and rights and freedoms with the gun legislation, why are they speaking out now about the erosion as pertains to the anti-terrorist act?
Because the new terrorism legislation jeopardizes the lawyer-client relationship, and they can have their arses in a sling for defending their clients.
In an Orwellian-style police state, he pointed out, it puts the onus on lawyers to secretly spy on their clients by squealing to the police about any “suspect” transaction.
Money accepted as a retainer for professional services can be seized and forfeited to the state as well as money received for posting bail.
“Seven hundred years of faithful keeping of clients’ confidences is thus blithely brushed aside,” he noted, referring to the Magna Carta of 1215 from which flows British common law. (Excuse me but please note that was the very same Magna Carta document the gun advocates cited when the Liberal government flippantly trampled constitutional rights with the lesser piece of legislation known as the Canadian Firearms Act of 1995, thus reducing all gun owners to second-class citizens who had no rights.)
“It is the role of lawyers in a free society to defend the rights of the oppressed,” Ruby contends, “and not to be conscripted by government to secretly inform on their clients.”
The justice system cannot function except on this premise, he stressed. Canada is supposed to respect the rule of law. The terrorism legislation puts lawyers at risk of being prosecuted for fulfilling professional obligations.
“The chilling effect of these provisions may make it impossible for individuals or organizations targeted by the government to obtain any access to justice at all.”
He believes McLellan’s actions demonstrated she did not want lawyer involvement in so-called terrorist cases.
The Law Society of Upper Canada is opposed to investigative hearings and preventative detention, too. The provisions “unreasonably put at risk the rights and freedoms of Canadians,” Ruby wrote.
Police would hold investigative hearings before a judge only, forcing the detainee into the untenable option of answering questions under oath or going to prison.
Investigative hearings threaten judicial independence and are a radical departure from the fundamental right of citizens to remain silent during a police investigation, argues Ruby.
Where have I seen that infringement before? The gun legislation, maybe? See No. 3 above.
Preventative arrest undermines the rule of law. It permits arrest simply on “predictive suspicion” that a wrongdoing is “going” to be committed, rather than having to provide “reasonable and probable” grounds to believe the person is guilty.
Again, Ruby should have been paying close attention to all the cases in which citizens have been caught in the grinders under the “predictive suspicion” provisions in the firearms law that can waive “reasonable and probable grounds” to obtain a search warrant.
Under the terrorism legislation, a variation has occurred in the suspension of “habeas corpus”, which has dictated for nearly 600 years that a prisoner must be brought before a judge and charged, otherwise released.
The 24 hours have been extended to 72 hours, during which time much mental manipulation can be imposed on suspects who have not committed sin.
Ruby explains that suspects, who have not committed a crime nor been charged with one, may be forced to enter into recognizance with restrictive conditions, otherwise be imprisoned for up to a year.
“No justification for these provisions has been advanced,” he offered.
No, and neither was justification advanced for the provisions in the Firearms Act, except the desire for the Liberal government to socially-overhaul Canada.
Ruby raises very valid points in his article, of course. But why not sooner?
If Canadian lawyers deeply care about the rule of 700-year-old law and the threat to it, and they are concerned about the state eroding fundamental rights and freedoms as guaranteed in the charter, all these lawyers would have been out en masse protesting alongside the gun-lobby groups and other concerned citizens from 1995 onward.
They weren’t. So that leads one to believe that most lawyers aren’t nearly as concerned about the rule of law and civil rights as they are desperate to try to cover their own backsides on this one.
After all, Ruby admitted from the start that “lawyers tend to go along with government.”
Until the bullet hits the bone.
P.S. The words “terrorist” and “terrorism” have never been legally defined in the Anti-Terrorism Act, any more than have the words “store” or “storage” in the Canadian Firearms Act; yet the Supreme Court of Canada saw fit to convict a gun owner for three storage offenses despite the fact that the law didn’t exist, doesn’t exist, and probably never will exist, and neither did any requirement for mandatory trigger locks to be fastened on guns that were secured inside locked regulation gun safes.
See: Justice Served Up Yukonslavia Style: The Shameful Conspiracy Behind the Allen Carlos Case, 1998 to 2004 by Jane Gaffin