Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Our Inconvenient Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Editor’s note: Lest there be any confusion, the CSSA strongly supports our police and other first responders. We recognize the incredible work done by the men and women of these invaluable services and are grateful for the terrific job they do. At no point should our comments ever be construed differently. However, excellence rarely means perfection, yet perfection is the very ideal for which we must strive. The pursuit of this goal demands that we speak out when imperfections exist.
* * * * *
Our commentary, “Ontario Court Of Appeal Says Ends Don’t Justify Means For Waterloo Regional Police,” offended at least one of our members. Our police friend, a retired Police Service member, took great umbrage at our commentary in support of the Ontario Court of Appeals ruling that said police officers must follow the law, not violate the Charter whenever it suits them.
“Is it the CSSA position that the police should not have done what they done and teh [sic] hells Angels should still be in possession of the stolen firearms and drugs?” he asked.
Of course not.
The CSSA’s position is quite clear. We expect the police to follow the law.
Police cannot break the law by violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms simply because it’s expedient. That’s not the CSSA saying so, either. That’s Justice J.A. Benotto, writing for the Ontario Court of Appeal in R. v. Strauss.
“The breach of Frank Strauss’ right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure was very serious. It was as a result of deliberate police conduct known to be in breach of a Charter protected right but which was committed on the basis that ‘the ends justified the means.’”
Our police friend claimed, “Police did not violate the law or charges against the officer would be laid.”
Utter hogwash and he knows it. The Ontario Court of Appeal made it quite clear Waterloo Regional Police Service Detective Sergeant Harrington broke the law. Despite his wilful and intentional violation of the Charter (Canada’s highest law), Detective Sergeant Harrington faced no charges and no reprimand we are privy to.
The reason we wrote about the Frank Strauss case is simple: a police officer, sworn to uphold the law, violated a citizen’s Charter rights and was pleased to do so. That is 100 per cent unacceptable.
The Charter doesn’t exist to protect the rights of the people who “have nothing to hide.” The Charter exists to protect the rights of everyone – the best of us and the worst of us.
Our police friend takes the same position as Detective Sergeant Harrington – the ends justify the means. So long as the guns are off the street, who cares what laws are broken in the process?
The CSSA does.
The issue with this faulty – nay, deeply flawed – police logic is simple. Police officers, as in the Strauss case, were the sole arbiters of whose rights could be violated with impunity. In that case, they drew the line at a Hell’s Angels’ biker and known drug dealer. By our police friend’s logic, Strauss was a criminal so whatever happens to him is his own fault.
What happens when it’s someone else, someone far less “bad” who breaks the law and, therefore, deserves whatever happens to them, no matter what?
When you read the Strauss decision, you will see police violated the Charter rights of many homeowners in their zeal to find Strauss’ safe house. What if one of those illegal searches turned up evidence of something police considered a crime? A couple of guns legally stored in someone’s locked garage, for example. Is it okay to compound their illegal search with criminal charges against someone for lawfully storing their guns in their locked garage?
According to one former police officer, the answer is affirmative, without reservation:
“The issue is the restrictive conditions placed on police to do their job against organized crime. To support organized crime which is what you are doing is offensive.”
CSSA Executive Director Tony Bernardo responded to that pair of incredulous statements with this:
“I love the convoluted logic. Because we believe police should obey the law (and getting a warrant to search and seize property is the law) you infer that we think Hells Angels should be entitled to own illegal guns and drugs. Give your head a shake. How about the police go out a gather enough evidence to get a warrant … AND DO IT LEGALLY.”
Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms exists precisely because of police officers like one retired Peel Regional Police Service member and Waterloo Regional Police Service Detective Sergeant Harrington.
Without the Charter to protect ALL Canadians, none of us would be safe from aggressive policing.
We are saddened police officers like this retired police service member and Detective Sergeant Harrington believe the Charter is just a piece of paper to be violated whenever necessity dictates, instead of the highest law in the land to be followed by all.
We are grateful beyond measure to the vast majority of Canada’s serving police officers who do not believe in violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; that they respect the rights of citizens to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
To those officers, we offer our humble thanks and gratitude.

Continue Your Journey with CSSA

Renew your membership and sustain your passion for shooting sports.

To Preserve, Promote and Protect the Lawful Use and Ownership of Firearms in Canada

Contact CSSA

1143 Wentworth St W #204, Oshawa, ON L1J 8P7
Toll-Free: 1-888-873-4339
Phone: 905-720-3142


© 1998–2024. Canadian Shooting Sports Association | All Rights Reserved

Website by mango media