Thursday, March 11, 2010

Joe Comartin: Civil Libertarian

NDP MP: Illegal strip search a "sweet deal"

When it comes to being soft on crime, few manage to be softer than the NDP.

But the Conservative Party is being accused of being selectively soft on crime by an NDP Member of Parliament. Oddly enough, that MP is being fairly selective himself.

The NDP, many may recall, tend to be rather big fans of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- and for good reason. Among some of the unfortunate (however necessary) effects of the charter is that many criminals who have their Charter rights violated can often walk free on a charge.

As it turns out, that's what happened recently for former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer. Many may recall that Jaffer was recently arrested for reckless driving, impaired driving, and drug possession.

More recently, Jaffer was cut a plea bargain by an Ontario court, which let him walk free after paying a $500 fine.

For his own part, NDP MP Joe Comartin doesn't like it.

“I’m wearing my lenses as a defence lawyer and thinking, ‘Boy, it would be great if I could get my client a deal like that,’” Comartin recently remarked. "I’m inclined to think that there is no reason to be suspicious that there was political interference or anything of that sort but I think it behooves the prosecutor ... or Ontario’s Attorney-General to tell the Canadian people why this happened.”

As it turns out, the Toronto Star has spared them the trouble.

The Star learned that a rookie officer with the Ontario Provincial Police followed improper procedure while strip searching Jaffer. Therefore, the matter was dropped in order to avoid a challenge due to a Charter rights violation.

Of course, with 27 years experience as a trial lawyer, one expects that Comartin likely turned down very few opportunities to have a case tossed due to a Charter violation.

And while one certainly doesn't have to like Jaffer's good fortune -- which was recognized by the Judge in the case -- one has to respect civil rights.

Moreover, respecting Jaffer's civil rights is not the same as approving of his conduct (which is, to say the least, extremely disappointing, to put it mildly), nor does it equate to political interference.

Charter rights apply to former Conservative MPs as much as they apply to anyone else. No one has to like what Rahim Jaffer did in order to respect that. Joe Comartin could stand to learn that.


  1. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Right. Yet, as I just left you a comment at CotM, the Liberals claim Omar Khadr's Charter rights have been violated and he should come home to Canada. Truly, their world is totally upside down when it comes to conservatives.

  2. Omar Khadr should have been repatriated.

    The United States can't seem to decide if they'll treat terrorism suspects as criminals or as prisoners of war.

    Canada, meanwhile, has decided. Therefore, if we are equipped to deal with our citizen, we should repatriate him so that we can.


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