Thunder Jack from the Oneida Nation talks with Toronto police about their plans to march to Dundas Square. Idle No More protest in downtown Toronto, Wednesday, January 16, 2013.
Credits: QMI Agency/CRAIG ROBERTSON
Terrorism can be violent, but it doesn’t have to be. Canadian law defines terrorism as not only the carrying out of terrorist acts, but also conspiring to commit them, or threatening to, or encouraging others to do so.
And this includes non-violent terrorism, like “serious interference with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system.”
Did the Idle No More blockades of highways, city intersections, railway tracks and bridges last week reach the legal test of terrorism, as defined under our Anti-Terrorism Act?
The actual results of the widespread law-breaking probably don’t live up to a “serious disruption of an essential system.”
But the law doesn’t require the successful commission of a terrorist act — just the threat or encouragement of the same.
We’ll never know whether the crime wave we saw on Wednesday meets the test of terrorism, because that would require the police to lay such charges.
They didn’t. They were too busy providing convoy-style escorts to protesters shutting down the Ambassador Bridge to the U.S., or joining in the drumming circles of various blockades, as a Sarnia police officer did late last month.
If the Idle No More protests don’t rise to the level of terrorism, they certainly meet the threshold of other crimes, from trespass to mischief.
But instead of charging the protesters, the cops made excuses for them. There are too many disgraceful examples to list here, but the most pitiful one is the Regina Police Department, which took to Twitter to criticize law-abiding citizens who were upset at the illegal blockades.
“You don’t have an alternate route?” whined the police department when asked if they’d open up the roads to traffic. That is actually what they said.
“We are here to ensure the safety of all motorists and pedestrians,” Regina’s police HQ tweeted.
But that’s not actually true, is it? The duty of the police is to uphold the law — not to refuse to uphold the law, because it’s more convenient or “safe” that way.
It’s clever to redefine an illegal blockade on a city street as “pedestrians,” but it’s tougher to do so when the crime is on private property, as some of the blockades on CN Rail lines were. CN went to court to get a judge to order an Ontario blockade removed, but the police refused to act for days.
Steve Tanner, chief of the Halton regional police, wrote a letter to Ontario’s minister in charge of policing referring to that injunction as a “so-called court order.” He actually used the disrespectful, insubordinate language of criminals himself.
But what can you expect? The official approach of the Ontario Provincial Police in the face of armed invasions in Caledonia has been to do what the Regina twitterer said: Keep everybody safe. Especially the police. It’s dangerous enforcing the law, especially against the “Mohawk Warriors,” who dress in camouflage, carry assault rifles, some of whom have served in the Canadian or U.S. military.
It’s tough being a cop. But that’s why they get our tax money, our respect, and the lawful monopoly of violence.
It’s actually not tough going after a bunch of jokers banging drums in the middle of the road — not tough compared to going after biker gangs or the Mafia or violent terrorists.
This isn’t a policing decision. It’s a political decision.
But it is the wrong one. Canada is based on the rule of law and the equality of all races.
Last year’s Occupy crime wave was a small-scale test run — same left-wing politics, same union organizers. We saw that police chiefs will choose to turn a blind eye to low-level crime rather than risk bad PR. That was in city parks. But now this is countrywide.
Rank-and-file police surely must despise this betrayal of their code.
A new Ipsos Reid poll shows Canadians are overwhelmingly unsympathetic to the threats and bullying of radical Indian chiefs.
That disgust will surely spill over to the police, too, if they don’t start enforcing the law.