Canadian Man Charged With Criminal Libel By The Police

from the criminal,-not-civil dept

Slashdot points us to the news that that a Canadian man has been charged by the police with criminal libel charges, for criticizing some other policy. He had accused the Calgary police with perjury, corruption, and obstruction of justice on his website, and the police felt it was libelous. The RCMP (do they still call them Mounties?) did the investigation, since the Calgary police were the subject, but either way it seems ridiculous to (a) charge someone with criminal libel and (b) to do it over him criticizing a government organization, such as the police. Even if his statements were untrue, going after the guy just looks petty.

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Comments on “Canadian Man Charged With Criminal Libel By The Police”

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Damian (profile) says:

What's the difference

I’ve read the story on slashdot and still don’t understand. What’s the difference between criminal and civil libel? I know that in civil libel, if for example, I print a flyer that says my next door neighbour is a child rapist, he can sue me for falsehood etc.
But how does someone determine criminal libel. What is it? Is it a worse lie? A lie that results in financial gain for you e.g. false advertising “Give me 20k and I’ll put it in a fund that will give you a guarranteed 200% return!”?

Anonymous Coward says:

Correct Response

The correct response by police would be to specifically address the allegations by the man, on their own website. Let members of the public make up their own minds as to who is lying. Charging him with criminal libel is a disproportionately heavy-handed response. That will just get the police a reputation for brutality. The man can now play victim for all he is worth, which is what he has been doing all along.

packrat (profile) says:

calgary police

I worked with them. Biddest (body weight/ tall) force in NA , at one point. (Around the ng time, when he was living in a park i patrolled. Also the 2000 oil conference.

big dumb bulls. Oil-man centric. boom-town / indian troubles. Since have had female chief, lots of explosive growth.

told ’em their methods would get them smeared all over the papers.


Anonymous Coward says:

Next thing you know: Arrests will become copyrighted. So anybody that complains can be arrested again. Cops lie for a living just like Politicians and Lawyers. You can’t trust any of them because they lie for a living and it becomes a habit. Every know a Lawyer or a Politician that gives a straight answer? Same with the cops.
One of my greatest lessons in life was from my Granny who says “Don’t trust the Lawyers, Politicians or the Police because they will lie to you to get what they want, and they don’t care how the lie hurts you as long as they get what they want.”

me says:

“You have to keep in mind that Calgary is a far right city in a far right province. Right now King Steven Harper is bringin down the iron fist on any and all dissent against his kingdom.”

So true.

I still find it quite discouraging that trash-talking the police can get you targeted by the police.
Just recently I read (maybe here?) that there are now something like 5 states in the US where it’s a CRIME to videotape police – even if THEY are breaking the law and you’re collecting evidence in your own defense.

So this is where we’re heading? No one may talk down about police, question their ethics, or attempt to demonstrate that they CAN do bad things?
I’m no alarmist but this is starting to look a little too 1984.

Karl (profile) says:

Even if his statements were untrue, going after the guy just looks petty.

Wait, “petty” is the best you can do?

No matter if this guy’s statements are true or false, criticizing the government (including police) is a fundamental right of citizens. If that right is hindered, the result is a police state.

Thank goodness I live in the U.S. of A., where such things could never… Oh, wait, never mind.

Me says:

Re: Re:

Any insight into what constitutes the difference in offence?
If I put up a web site saying these same things about my neighbor would it be a criminal or civil crime?
Is this a case of “he did X so Y is the crime it falls under” or more a case of “you f* with the police so we’re going to go beyond any punishment normally administered”??

Lance says:

Canada is a communist state

I agree, a government using the law to shut up critical speech is far more than petty, it’s tyranny.

I would hope that our neighbors to the North have stronger free speech laws than this article implies, and I hope the police are sternly reminded of this

No, Canada has no strong free speech protection.
Under S.13 of the federal Human Rights Act you may be censored for uttering so-called hate speech, with truth being no defense.

Canada has no equivalent to the First Amendment but only a Euro-leftist “charter” stating that freedom of expression is a nice idea but only as long as the government can’t conceive of any legitimate reason for limiting it.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

To the Canadian People, and Especially to the Chief of Police of Calgary.

Take it from me: you do not EVER want the immensely powerful nation to your southwards to get the idea that you are just another banana republic, such as, say, Haiti. Our Army, and our Air Force, and our Navy have weapons you have not even dreamed of. That’s brutal to say, but there it is.

Some years ago, I saw a newspaper picture, of two American Marines in Haiti, one white and one black, dragging a dead Haitian through the streets of Port-au-Prince, dragging him the way hunters drag a deer. The young Marines were both wide-eyed, obviously terrified, and on the near edge of battle-madness. The Haitian was presumably some kind of Bad Guy, a Ton Ton Macoute, or whatever they are called nowadays. We don’t respect Haiti. We send in the Marines whenever it seems necessary, every ten or twenty years on the average.

We Americans tend to put Canada up on a pedestal, rather the way a man puts a girl up on a pedestal, seeing you Canadians as exemplifications of certain virtues which we ourselves don’t have the social cohesion to manage. I mean things like National Health Insurance, and the comparative nonviolence of your dealings with indigenous peoples. We are still ashamed of Wounded Knee (1890) and Sand Creek (1864). As a result, at certain points in national conflicts with Canada, over things like fishing rights, we back off, even when we think we are in the right.

I don’t know what the rights and wrongs are in the case of John Kelly and the Calgary Police, and I don’t care. The indisputable fact seems to be that he has been arrested for criticizing the Police on a website, not on the street, where it could possibly be construed as a disturbance of the public peace, but on a website. Our own informing law is the case of Times vs. Sullivan, back in 1964, and of course, the case of John Peter Zenger, back in 1735. The gist of our law is that it is practically impossible for a government official to prove the facts necessary for civil libel, and there is no such thing as criminal or seditious libel. President Obama simply has to ignore, as best he can, the irrational imputations of his supposedly having been born in Kenya. There are lots of other people willing to be President if he doesn’t want the job. Someone wielding government power is not entitled to be sensitive of insults or calumny. That’s a bedrock matter. It’s not negotiable. It destroys the whole set of assumption underlying the pedestal. A government which arrests its critics, however ridiculous they may be, is not a virtuous government, and need not be treated with respect.

With such a government, one operates in the much narrower calculus of power. It’s very difficult to do anything about China, but Haiti is so weak as to be easy to take over. Bear in mind that the United States Army’s 82nd Airborne Division could take out the Calgary Police Department in a very few minutes. During Desegregation, the 82nd Airborne was used to (non-violently) end resistance by the governments of certain Southern states. That is another way of saying that Southern sheriffs might kidnap and murder nonviolent freedom riders, but they were not foolish enough to take on the 82nd Airborne. Most of the country’s reaction to this was in effect that if the damm “Johnny Rebs” still hadn’t got the message, all these years after Shiloh, and Gettysburg, and Appomattox, they would just have to be taught the hard way. In short, the attitude was basically similar to that involved in dealing with Haiti. The long-term condition of Canada’s national independence is that its standards of civil and human rights have to be at least as high as American standards. Canada has to be worthy of being put on a pedestal.

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