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Monday, May 12, 2008

Lemieux: My Crimes

Sometimes, we commit crimes unwittingly or unknowingly. In those cases, we're probably glad the burden of proof is on the state to demonstrate that we're the guilty party, rather than on us to prove our innocence. Then again, maybe we're happy that not all apparent crimes result in a call to the police but are handled informally.

In his latest column, Pierre Lemieux confesses his crimes. Not fake crimes like owning a gun without a licence or making use of so-called "illicit" drugs as an adult, but real crimes--crimes against legitimate property owners.

An excerpt:

"Legal safeguards are important because it can easily happen that somebody looks obviously guilty while he is innocent. This is what three little anecdotes of mine illustrate...

"... I was pushing a cart with a few items I had just purchased. Like an absent-minded professor, I started walking out of the store without thinking of paying. A security guard stopped me. I made a gesture of the sort, “Gosh, I have forgotten to pay!” The guard frowned severely and showed me the direction of the nearest cash register. Nothing else happened.

"This happened at about the time Claude Charron, a Parti Québécois Minister, was caught with stolen clothes in the same store, arrested, and later convicted. I must have looked more honest than him. One advantage of being honest is that one looks honest. Still, had the guard arrested me and the cops laid charges, would my absent-mindedness have been a persuasive defence?"


Posted by westernstandard on May 12, 2008 in Western Standard | Permalink


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There are many "crimes" in Canada where you are presumed guilty and the burden of proof is on you. Traffic tickets, and tax violations with CCRA are two examples. The state has broad and sweeping powers. Anyone who does not think so need only not pay their speeding tickets or worse, have a run in with CCRA.

Posted by: TM | 2008-05-12 12:09:19 PM

TM, you are right. I had the same thoughts concerning the periodic road side checks by the RCMP where they stop every vehicle for seat belts or for drinking. These are other examples of where everyone is considered guilty unless proven innocent. One could make quiet a list of such examples of course.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-05-12 1:09:41 PM

Such a list might be very useful in teaching our children about freedom, or debating with our socialistic brethren. However, the dicussion wouldn't go over well at a party would it?

Posted by: TM | 2008-05-12 1:47:42 PM

He's guilty. The story is a ruse. [That's why we have lawyers. To get the guilty and the innocent off the hook.]

Posted by: dewp | 2008-05-12 5:44:05 PM

Claude Charron had a relatively expensive tweed jacket hidden under his winter coat -- and his boyfriend assaulted a security guard in an attempt to help Charron escape. Then, after he got charged, he claimed that Eaton's was out to get him for political reasons. That's a long way from a distracted Mr. Lemieux pushing a cart out the door in front of a guard. I do agree with Mr. Lemieux that Charron didn't look honest. He looked like the sleazeball he was.

Posted by: CJ | 2008-05-13 4:07:47 AM

Actually, Professor, in all three cases you have committed criminal acts. Carelessness and negligence are not excuses. While one doesn't want to lock up every absent-minded soul, the sober truth is that intent is pretty much impossible to prove. Hence the emphasis on physical evidence.

The responsibility to heed the law in all three cases was yours, and you failed, and the evidence is going to show that you failed. Extenuating circumstances do not erase the deed. They should, therefore, be taken into account during sentencing, not the actual determination of guilt.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-05-16 2:09:14 PM

TM: "There are many "crimes" in Canada where you are presumed guilty and the burden of proof is on you. Traffic tickets, and tax violations with CCRA are two examples. The state has broad and sweeping powers. Anyone who does not think so need only not pay their speeding tickets or worse, have a run in with CCRA."

The definition of "broad and sweeping" is, in itself, broad and sweeping. It can mean whatever you want it to mean without providing any specifics whatever. Traffic tickets can be contested, and in fact are often tossed out because the officer doesn't appear for the court date. If the government makes an error in calculating your tax it is the easiest thing in the world to correct, provided you have the documentation (and you do, right?).

Since I have never been in trouble with the police and have received only two tickets in 20 years of driving (and let's face it, I like most drivers deserved many more), I suppose I've never encountered the "broad and sweeping powers" you describe. But then, most law-abiding people don't.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-05-16 2:14:47 PM

You want REALITY ??! 8 years ago I did not open MY door to Police, ( I told them ' Show Me a paper signed by a JUDGE and I would immediately, otherwise they are tresspasing"! Ever since then they did thier best to "get" Me, and this past Nov. they did ! When I was assaulted,and Deliberately run down by an assailants car, I was charged! , and the perpetrator was not!. ( 4 days in Jail with a broken rib, bail hearing , and now I must prove MY innocence !!! DON'T tell Me they don't do What they Want , to Who they Want , When they want !!! (at least the NIAGARA REGIONAL POLICE, here in Ontario DO!

Posted by: Peter Gruhl | 2008-05-31 4:10:08 AM

With regards to My predicament, (See posting,Peter Gruhl; May 31- 08, 4:10:08,AM), if anyone can help me in any way...( "case law", or a good lawyer, or ???, ( I would PAY for valuable help, PLEASE contact, Me or My Lynda at; [email protected] (We are near NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario. THANK-YOU !!!

Posted by: Peter Gruhl | 2008-06-03 12:28:54 PM

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