Legal system hurts itself

The Canadian legal system dances alone,
ever more out of touch with Canadian values
By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective


Capt. David Semrau



David Chen


Canada’s civilian and military justice systems seem determined to prove the old line from Charles Dickens that the law is an ass.

The court martial of Capt. David Semrau was a disgrace from beginning to end while the court action against Toronto grocer David Chen is plain boneheaded. One hates to think how many taxpayer dollars were wasted in these two prosecutions plus the public disrespect they both heap on justice in Canada.

Semrau was found not guilty of the criminal charges of second-degree or attempted murder but guilty of disgraceful conduct and booted from the military. Just what the disgraceful conduct was doesn’t seem to have been explained. Perhaps it was that Semrau, although promoted to a position of considerable authority because of his leadership ability, wasn’t supposed to think for himself on the battlefield. Follow a rule book even if you and your men are in danger.

Obviously Semrau shot the badly wounded Taliban to put him out of his misery. Was he supposed to leave the man to suffer until he died? Or risk further lives by trying to get him to medical care? The judge said Semrau would have a shadow over him for killing the man. He probably would have to endure an even bigger shadow if he’d left the man to expire in agony.

Semrau could have lied and said the Taliban pulled a knife on him. It seems he was prepared to force the military to confront its head in the sand attitudes. Maybe it help get the military brass over their boy-scout syndrome. It’s not like Semrau went around shooting Afghans at will. He found himself in a nightmare situation and did what he considered to be the right thing. None of us would want to face a similar dilemma.  

Chen is on trial for assault and unlawful confinement for capturing and holding a thief for the police. The bad guy has a criminal record that stretches over 30 years and obviously doesn’t give a fig about the law or anyone trying to make an honest living. He brazenly steals from Chen’s store and others in Toronto. The police arrest him and the courts give him a slap on the wrist and tell him he’s a naughty boy. In no time, he’s back on the streets to resume his criminal career.

From all accounts, Chen is a hard-working man who finally had enough of being ripped off by this lowlife. If Chen had called the cops, the thief would have been long gone before they arrived. The thief probably would have returned to the store the next day to steal some more.

Instead of charging Chen, the police, Crown attorneys and judges should explain why they baby the crook and his ilk rather than taking them off the streets. It’s not like the guy is trying to reform.

Would the justice system rather the David Chens of the world took the law into their own hands and dispense a punishment on the crook? We certainly don’t want vigilant justice in this country but what other choices are people left with when it comes to protecting their livelihoods from crooks?

To use another Dickens’ line—bah humbug to the justice system.