AN EXCESSIVELY PUNITIVE RULING THAT SHOULD MAKE ALL LOVERS OF LIBERTY NERVOUS
By Marni Soupcoff, National Post Newspaper, Toronto Canada, June 4, 2014
The Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision to force Bruce and Donna Montague to forfeit their $100,000 firearms collection to the federal government should make all Canadians nervous.
AND BEWARE AMERICAN READERS, THIS COULD SOON BE YOUR FATE IF BARACK OBAMA SUCCEEDS IN PACKING THE U.S. SUPREME COURT WITH HIS ‘PROGRESSIVE’ NOMINEES:
Bruce is a talented gunsmith. He violated the law by purposely letting his firearms business license and firearms acquisition certificates expire as an act of protest against the complex licensing and gun registration laws that came into effect in Canada in 1995. Bruce expressed his principled opposition to the new regime by carrying on his business and publicly (but peaceably) challenging the constitutionality of the gun laws.
In fact, Bruce spent much of his jail time tutoring other inmates and helping out around the facility.
But the government was apparently not to be satisfied until it had punished him for his insolent protest by taking everything that Bruce and Donna have worked for over their lives.
GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRATS GONE WILD
The Candian federal government used its criminal forfeiture power to try to take away the aforementioned Montague family firearms (a collection that includes Bruce’s business inventory and constitutes the bulk of Bruce and Donna’s life savings) without giving Bruce or Donna a dime.
And the Ontario provincial government went after the same collection in a civil forfeiture proceeding, which added Bruce and Donna’s house, which Bruce built with his own hands, to the list.
Ontario’s justification for trying to take the Montagues’ family home?
The government lawyers argue it was a “proceed or instrument of unlawful activity.”
Which is pretty interesting given that the only one standing to make any proceeds off of Bruce’s unlawful activity is the government itself.
Which brings us back to yesterday’s decision.
The Court of Appeal has ruled that the feds can indeed arbitrarily expropriate Bruce and Donna’s gun collection — and can relieve the Montagues of $100,000 worth of their own property — despite the fact that no one was hurt by Bruce’s acts of protest.
Something has gone wrong in the pursuit of justice here
That’s the part that should make everyone nervous. It is of course fair to expect the government to punish those who break the law.
But it’s also fair to expect that the punishment will be proportional to the crime committed — and specifically that it will NOT be excessively punitive to the wrongdoer and that it will NOT be A CASH GRAB TO FILL GOVERNMENT COFFERS.
Can anyone maintain that expectation after yesterday’s result?
Are we now to understand that financial ruination is a decent and acceptable way for the federal government to punish firearms licensing offences?
I have a feeling that some liberal readers might “tune out” about Bruce and Donna’s case because it involves firearms, assuming this is just about “gun nuts.”
FOR ONCE THE POLICE HAVE GOT IT RIGHT
For the record, Bruce and Donna are NOT “gun nuts.” They’re proud parents (soon to be proud grandparents) and well-respected members of their community. Before Bruce lost his business, many of his GUNSMITHING customers were local law enforcement agents.
Bruce and Donna are understandably exhausted, and still face the potential loss of their home in the civil trial.
I don’t know yet whether they will decide to appeal this criminal forfeiture decision to the Supreme Court of Canada; but as their legal adviser, my organization [the Canadian Constitution Foundation] will support whatever choice they feel is best for them.
There’s too much at stake for all Canadians’ property rights not to.
[Marni Soupcoff is executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, a non-profit legal charity that represents Bruce and Donna Montague: http://www.canadianconstitutionfoundation.ca/ ]