Members of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation block the CN Rail Line in Sarnia on Dec. 26, 2012 as part of the Idle No More protests that were happening in various communities across Canada.
Credits: QMI AGENCY
There is a long-standing legal principle in Canada that is in serious jeopardy: Equality under the law.
It used to be said that justice is blind and that whether you are a prince or pauper, you should be treated the same.
In Canada, this no longer applies.
Sure, we have the guarantee of equality in our charter where section 15 reads, "Every individual is equal before and under the law."
But then immediately following that we have section 15 (2) which says we can throw equality under the law under the bus if it is for a good cause.
Where does that lead us?
In relation to current news of Native protests across Canada, this leads us to affirmative action policing.
You've heard of blockades across the country in support of the Idle No More campaign and Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.
Several times rail lines have been blocked and CN Rail has been forced to go to the courts to have protesters removed because the police were not doing anything. They were simply watching.
On Dec. 21, Justice David Brown ordered a blockade in Sarnia to be removed "forthwith."
Forthwith isn't an everyday kind of word, but it is used in the courts because it has a specific and clear meaning. It means immediately, without delay.
But that's not what Sarnia police did, they instead decided to talk, engage and drum.
This week I was sent a YouTube video showing Staff Sgt. Jeff Hodgson drumming with protesters on Dec. 26, five days after the rail blockade was ordered removed.
"It was done to foster goodwill and to build trust, rapport and friendship - with an understanding of their protest," said Const. Heather Emmons, the media relations officer.
On Dec. 27, Justice Brown spoke to this issue again when CN was forced to the courts to say, hey, they aren't listening.
"With all due respect to the Sarnia Police, local police agencies cannot ignore judicial orders under the guise of contemplating how best to use their tactical discretion. Such an approach would have the practical effect of neutering court orders," Justice Brown wrote.
Still he was ignored.
In Sarnia, they did not remove the rail blockade until Jan. 2 , a full 13 days after the first court order.
On Monday, Justice Brown once again blasted police for failing to enforce a different court order, this time it was the Ontario Provincial Police at fault.
OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis shot back.
"I am not going to tell a young OPP widow that her deceased police husband gave his life to open the tracks," Lewis told QMI Agency's Joe Warmington.
So apparently in the police world these days there are only two ways to deal with unlawful activities by Natives: Walk in shooting or join the drumming circle.
Let's be clear here: Commissioner Lewis and the police chief in Sarnia would not tolerate me or any other non-Native setting up a blockade of a street, highway or rail line for weeks at a time.
They would not consider the political implications. If I set up a tent on a rail line, it would be taken down within hours and I would be charged.
Would we accept different rules for Italians, or maybe the Irish?
Should people of German or Mexican ancestry get different laws in Canada?
If Canadians believe in equality, we need to put a stop to this.
We are either all equal under the law or we accept race-based policing.