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Pellerin: Police shouldn’t pick and choose which laws they enforce

Do you remember where you were when Ontario took a most unpleasant step towards becoming a police state?

No, I don’t mean the idiotic law that said police had the power randomly to stop and question you if you were out of your home. I mean, when several police services around the province said they wouldn’t enforce it?

“In this case it’s a little harder to wrap your head around because it’s such a bad law,” says prominent criminal lawyer Michael Spratt. “One of the real problems here is that it results in a patchwork across the province,” he adds. “The Ottawa Police might be different than the OPP, and that sort of patchwork enforcement can lead to confusion, it can lead to injustice, it can lead to individuals being targeted.”

But more than anything else, I worry that we have now set a precedent in Ontario where police forces get to decide which laws are applied and how. Our system of government does not function without clear lines of accountability. We, the voters, choose the government, which then enacts laws we all have to follow, including cops. If the laws are terrible, we, the voters, have recourses against the government — through the courts or the ballot box. But as Spratt rightly observes, “it is virtually impossible to hold the police to account.”

Having police forces push back on government, saying they won’t enforce a particularly stupid law, is making all of us less safe. I don’t know how we walk that one back.

Read Brigitte Pellerin’s full article: Ottawa Citizen

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