Thursday, May 17, 2012
The "Mask Bill" C-309
Private Members bill C-309, is a proposition that would seek to make it an indictable offence to wear a mask or intentionally conceal ones identity while the individual was actively involved in a a riot or criminal act.
Key words Criminal act.
The first thing I would like to point out is that private members bills typically do not become law. However even if it did become law I ask you what exactly is the problem? First off it is not a persons right to disguise oneself from authorities under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Nowhere in the Charter does it say that it is a right. So lets just forget that little red herring right from the get go. The act simply seeks to amend and update the Criminal Code with regard to the concealment of ones identity. How is that a bad thing?
To quote the Right Honourable Blake Richards of the Conservative Party of Canada "Canada's justice system should always put the rights of law-abiding Canadians ahead of those of criminals. Canadians are increasingly concerned about the violent and reckless behaviour displayed by those who participate in public riots." We have seen such riots very recently with the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver last June when the Boston Bruins won the Cup. and more recently St. Patrick’s Day in London, Ontario. A normal festive celebration erupted into a riot involving as many as 1,000 young people fuelled by lowered inhibitions and guided by a mob mentality. These people in the process of "just a little drunken fun" set cars on fire destroyed property and required the local police riot response force to end the incident
Now masks in this instance to the best of my knowledge were not used but Is this socially acceptable behaviour?
When you take part in or commit a criminal act you are not a law abiding citizen you are in fact a criminal. You still have your rights under the CCRF as do all people in Canada however as has already been explained you have zero right to conceal your face or identity while committing a crime.
Riots happen. Does that fact mean the proposed law would withstand a charter challenge? Possibly or it might just fail who knows. Like I said a lot of times private member bills don't go far.
That is up to the Supreme Court of Canada to decide. It isn’t up to Harper, nor the armies of politicians, nor the anarchists or the occupy movement, or the V for vendetta fans. the buck stops with the Supreme Court of Canada.
It is the government’s job to create legislation and the court’s job to interpret it, whether the court supports the intent of the government or not is up to nobody but the court. That’s one of the checks and balances in our system.
Having said that I am not suggesting people dont question the government creating legislation. There are of course reasons to question the government’s motivations in supporting the piece of proposed legislation aimed at making the wearing of a mask or disguise at a protest gone amok a crime. Aren’t there always reasons to question any government’s motivations? But, that doesn’t mean the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is wrong. nor does it make him some kind of horror movie bad guy or "Canadas version of Hitler"
That kind of hyperbole and polarization doesn't do you any favors in making your case.
Bottom line the bill is not an absolute because it is not supposed to be no law is intended as an absolute. That is why a police officer has discretion in the execution of his or her duty and that discretion is used every day by police officers across the country.
The proposed law is intended as a tool for police if they perceive that a group of agitators are about to take a peaceful protest south. Like all police actions, officers are then subject to judgment and scrutiny internally and externally. This is a tool for use against masked criminals taking part in or creating a full fledged riot which is a criminal act. I support the concept proposed by the bill under those circumstances from a position of public safety.