A. Cameron Ward Barristers and Solicitors
A. Cameron Ward
Vancouver BC
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I grew up in a small town. I’ve been spending a lot of time in a small BC town lately. In small towns, you smile and say hello to everybody. You try to be helpful.

Myles Gray was from a small town. He would have said hello to everyone on his walk, and trying to be helpful, he would have reminded a woman watering her lawn on a hot August day that watering restrictions were in effect.. The rest is tragic history.

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I don’t represent the family of Myles Gray, but I have been following the case closely and I am outraged by the length of time it has taken for the authorities to deal with the case.

According to news accounts, Mr. Gray, 33, was the owner of a successful business in Sechelt and had no criminal record.  He was on a business trip in Vancouver and unarmed when he encountered a woman watering her lawn during drought restrictions.  An argument ensued and police were called in response to a complaint of a man spraying a woman with a garden hose.  Seven or eight Vancouver Police Department members responded, an altercation ensued, and Mr. Gray was left dead.  There were no civilian witnesses and no videos.  The police took no contemporaneous notes, contrary to VPD policy.  According to a summary of an autopsy report, released to the public much later, Mr. Gray’s injuries included “a fractured voice box; nasal fracture; dislocated jaw; fractured right orbital eye socket; fractured posterior right third rib; fractured sternum; hemorrhagic injury of one testicle; multi-focal bruising to thigh and right arm”.  Clearly, this man suffered a horrendous beating before he died.

So far, there has been no discipline, no arrests and no charges.  The Independent Investigations Office, the civilian agency that investigates all cases of police-involved serious harm or death, delivered its report to crown counsel in January of 2019.  Mr. Gray’s family is still waiting for some measure of justice, more than four years and nine months after he died.  This is wrong.

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I deplored the use of injunctions, enforcement clauses and contempt of court powers to deal with environmental activists in 1994, and now, twenty years later, as the Kinder Morgan protests on Burnaby Mountain heat up, my views are the same.  It may be helpful to revisit what Mr. Justice Mark McEwan had to say on the subject in Regional District of Central Kootenay v. Doe, 2003 BCSC 836:

“A Writ of this kind is, in essence, a request for the court to craft a proscriptive law binding on all citizens respecting certain activities. It is not the assertion of a civil claim at all, but the adaptation of the mechanics of a civil claim for the purpose of legislating, by way of injunction, a form of ad hoc criminal law (that is, a proscriptive law having general application). This apparently has the salutary effect, from the point of view of the Attorney General’s department and the police, of relieving them of their investigative and prosecutorial functions in matters they deem politically, or otherwise, sensitive, and handing them over to the Court. The Court is then in the invidious position of having before it a litigant whose only seeming recourse is to the Court, given the inaction of the authorities. The Court also subsequently finds itself in the position of prosecuting any breaches of the injunction as “contempts”, in effect, translating what are apparently offences against public order (for which Parliament has passed criminal sanctions), into attacks on the court’s authority. I am not at all persuaded that the court should inevitably put its authority on the line in such circumstances. I will not repeat what I have said on earlier occasions on this subject except to note that the misgivings I expressed in, for instance, Slocan Forest Products Ltd. v. John Doe et al, 2000 BCSC 150, inform these reasons.           

The materials before me include a Writ and Statement of Claim asserting a trespass, but seeking only an injunction and enforcement orders, not damages or costs. The form of relief sought in the motion is not stated to be interlocutory, although that is clearly what the plaintiff must be seeking.         

I think this proceeding amounts to a kind of officially induced abuse of process.”

So don’t take it from me.  Take it from an esteemed Justice of the BC Supreme Court.

 

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Fatal shootings by RCMP in BC

November 19, 2014 in Opinion

The RCMP shot and killed at least 16 men in BC between 2009 and 2015.  The list, compiled from BC Coroners Service records and other public documents, is below.

Name, Date and Location:

Peter de Groot, October 13, 2014; Slocan

John Buehler, September 17, 2014; Valemount

Gaetan Plante, January 14, 2014; Surrey

Ryan Jacob, January 31, 2013; Burnaby

Gregory Matters, September 10, 2012; Prince George

Justin Zinser, September 24, 2011; Nimpo Lake

Brendon Beddow, March 23, 2011; Surrey

Adam Purdie, March 2, 2011; Surrey

Alvin Wright, August 7, 2010; Burnaby

Wilbert Bartley, July 30, 2010; Kamloops

Matthew Wilcox, January 10, 2010; North Vancouver

Jeffrey Hughes, October 23, 2009, Nanaimo

Valeri George, September 30, 2009; Rock Creek

Rodney Jackson, September 29, 2009; Hazelton

Kenneth Baines, July 15, 2009; Surrey

Derek Whelton, March 1, 2009; Cowichan

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TWU: Where I stand*

July 22, 2014 in Opinion

Trinity Western University should not be permitted to open a law school in British Columbia while it discriminates against a class of people based on their sexual orientation.

The benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia have the authority to determine whether any new law school is an approved faculty of law.  In April, by a vote of 20-7, the benchers decided to approve the proposed school.  I was in the minority then, and suspect I remain so now, despite the June 11 special general meeting of the membership where an overwhelming majority of the province’s lawyers voted against accreditation.

This issue will be back in front of the benchers in September, when two resolutions will be considered.  One, which I support, would implement the result of the special general meeting, while the second resolution contemplates subjecting the issue to a binding referendum.  I feel such a step is unnecessary and expensive.  Too much members’ money has already been spent on this divisive issue.

It is all quite unfortunate, because TWU could stop all this nonsense with the stroke of a pen – by simply deleting the objective part of its anachronistic “Community Covenant”.  This is an objectionable document, for it discriminates against married same sex couples by prohibiting them from engaging in sexual relations while working or studying at the institution.  Married heterosexual couples, on the other hand, enjoy the freedom to do as they please.

To me, it is just plain wrong for an institution of higher learning to discriminate against a class of people and make them feel unwelcome.  If TWU must do so, it should not be allowed to train tomorrow’s lawyers and judges.

….

*The views expressed herein, as elsewhere on this website, are solely those of the author, Cameron Ward, and should not be construed as reflecting the opinion of any other person or group with whom I may be affiliated.

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