Monday, May 7, 2012

Legislation would prohibit masks during riots: it's already a crime. Doesn't anyone read the Criminal Code?

Sometimes you have to wonder if MP's read the Criminal Code. My sense is they don't.

And no one else does either.

It is already against the law to wear a mask or disguise so as to commit an indictable offence. And rioting is indictable.

Here's what the Code already says:

Disguise with intent

351 (2) Every one who, with intent to commit an indictable offence, has his face masked or coloured or is otherwise disguised is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

As mentioned above rioting is already an indictable matter. Section 65 of the Code says "everyone who takes part in a riot is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years."

So this new legislation creates an offence with a lower maximum sentence that criminalizes conduct already unlawful and criminal.

Why? Perhaps because nobody read the Code or asked a Crown or defence lawyer:

http://m.torontosun.com/2012/05/06/legislation-would-prohibit-masks-during-riots

OTTAWA - The government will support a private member's bill that would make it a crime to wear a mask or disguise during a riot, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Sunday.

The Concealment of Identity Act would create two Criminal Code offences with maximum penalties of five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.

"Destructive and reckless behavior damages communities and should not be tolerated," Nicholson said.

Wild Rose Tory MP Blake Richards introduced Bill C-309 in the Commons in April. Debate began last week. Government support usually means the bill will pass.

Richards says there is a lawful excuse provision in the bill that would allow people for religious reasons to cover their faces and those with medical conditions to wear bandages or devices that could obscure their faces.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Doesn't that new bill include unlawful assembly in it's terms?

I think that may be the key.

Mark Francis said...

Betcha it will broaden the definition of disguise and riot.

Mark Francis said...

Betcha it will broaden the definition of disguise and riot.

Mark Francis said...

Betcha it will broaden the definition of disguise and riot.

James C Morton said...

That may be -- but why not work with existing laws instead of ignoring what's on the booked and making up new crimes?

Anonymous said...

Yes, and until a court rules on it, it's never clear when lawful assembly becomes unlawful. This is just a way of preventing lawfully assembled protesters from protecting themselves from unlawful police riot gas and pepper spray.

Anonymous said...

Eventually, Morton, you'll realize you aren't dealing with classical Tories. You aren't even dealing with principled Reformers. You definitely aren't dealing with fellow honourable Canadians with whom you simply have some differences of opinion over policy.

This new creature that devoured the Progressive Conservatives seeks only one thing. Power.

James C Morton said...

Anon -- that may be true but if so it doesn't matter how we treat em -- so I will continue to try to appeal to their better angels...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Morton, I could not find a Definition for "riot" or "unlawful assembly" in the Criminal Code. I find that worrisome. The police & govt can lay criminal charge willy nilly then, using their own subjective views as to what constitutes a riot, and unlawful assembly.

What do you make of the lack of definitions in the legislation?

Anonymous said...

Anon, "unlawful assembly" is defined at s. 63(1). "Riot" is defined at s. 64. Both definitions hinge on "disturbing the peace tumultuously."

The definitions are very vague and you are absolutely right that the police lay charges using their own subjective views. The police know full well that most charges will later be dropped without repercussion on them. Establishing unlawful detention against police is an uphill battle.

Zorpheous said...

James do you know of any case where a person has been charged with this law?

Anonymous said...

According to Toronto Police, over 230 people were charged under the existing law following the G20 in Toronto. There is even a class action lawsuit against police being led by Sherry Good.
http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/article/1047030--judge-allows-one-g20-class-action-lawsuit-to-seek-certification-while-staying-a-second-one

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