Much has been said and written about the weaknesses of the civil justice system in this province. However, there’s nothing like being a litigant to make one realize that there has to be a better way…

Last Friday, I spent a day with the lawyers for two taxpayer-funded public institutions (the City of Vancouver and Province of British Columbia) quibbling over the amounts I was entitled to as costs after winning my personal civil case against them for violations of my constitutional rights back in 2002.

The chorus from a Social Distortion song kept running through my head:

“Yeah, yeah yeah…I’m chasing nickels and dimes

While the rest of the world passes me by

Nah, nah, nah… I’m just wasting my time

I’m just sitting here and wondering why”

M. Ness/Rebel Waltz Music (ASCAP) and J. Wickersham/Ogle Street Music (BMI)


I wish I could report that the case is wrapped up. However, a full day was not enough to deal with my Bill of Costs, so we will all have to return for a further day’s hearing (at least) in about a month. As well, the Province appealed the trial judgment, so I will have to wait many more months before this is finally over.

To recap, on August 2, 2002, several Vancouver police officers handcuffed me and transported me to the Vancouver Jail, where I was strip-searched and imprisoned for the balance of the day. My car was located and impounded as well, but I was never charged with any offence.

All of this happened, according to the Vancouver police, because I “matched the description” of someone who was overheard saying something about throwing a pie at the Prime Minister…no pie was ever thrown by anyone, nor was one found. The Vancouver police refused to apologize for my treatment and even published media reports suggesting they were right to deal with me this way. After a six day civil trial, a BC Supreme Court judge disagreed and awarded me damages.