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Taking the crime out of motorcycle tires

by Archives January 24, 2001
A push by federal opposition members in the Canadian parliament and provincial governments, particularly those of Quebec and Ontario, demanding tougher legislation from Ottawa to deal with criminal gangs and their members has led to a unique discovery.
Members of organized crime are not all the same size or shape and do not all drive the same sorts vehicles or live in the same types of houses.
Members of organized crime do not walk the streets donning bone fide identification tags and do not always let the mantra of their individual organizations poke sheepishly out of their breast pockets like handkerchiefs.
The gray area of being able to determine whom, in Canada, is a gang-member makes it very dangerous to set precedence within this country by developing and enforcing new anti-gang legislation directed towards members of organized crime.
While federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan has made it clear over the past week, that she plans to rally Parliament into enacting tough legislation to help weaken the activities of gangs in Canada; Canadians should be wary that they are not swayed into accepting legislation as being a solution to preventing crime.
The recent shooting of Quebec crime reporter Michel Auger has brought the hype and fear of gang activity to the forefront of Canadian minds. This has led to talk of convincing Ottawa to grind out new laws that would override, to some degree, the right to freedom of association in the Canadian Charter of Rights. The aims of such measures would be to prevent members of known criminal gangs from fraternizing with criminal associates.
With new laws come grace periods wherein the interpretation and application of these laws through the courts helps to determine their legal validity. Creating such legislation would essentially create new gray areas in Canadian law that could be very dangerous.
Escape routes that such legislation would have to include, so as not to overly infringe upon the existing rights which the Charter guarantees Canadian citizens, could make these kinds of constitutional changes either useless or potentially abusive for everyday citizens.
Providing law enforcement officers new powers to deal with organized crime, which override the Canadian Charter casts aside the curtains upon a window of abuse that could easily expose Canadian citizens to an unreasonable level of policing.
One of the principle provisions in this new plan would be to allow undercover police officers to participate in such crimes as drug smuggling and money laundering when conducting investigations. This raises some serious questions about entrapment.
If the police are allowed to commit criminal offenses during the course of duty what’s to prevent them from diverting the attention of an investigation in order to sting people who have perhaps been involved in any variety of unrelated dubious activities
Without adequate guidelines Canada risks becoming a police state instead of a policed one.
Organized crime can be deterred by establishing stricter penalties within our criminal laws as the new legislation is intended in part to do, when it can be proved that the accused possesses actual membership affiliation within an identified gang as well as by increasing allocated resources to Canadian policing bodies.
Bending existing rules, however, so that the guaranteed rights of all Canadian citizens are weakened is no way to take the air out of crime’s motorcycle tires.

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