Musings —11.02.2010 11:40 PM—
Tories, Libs, NDP unite to protect thief catchers like David Chen (Harper-Thief-Catcher)
THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA – The plight of a thief-nabbing grocer from Toronto has the prime minister and opposition MPs tripping over themselves to change the law _ and maybe score some political points in the process.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Tuesday he has instructed the Justice Department to look at amending the Criminal Code to ensure what happened to David Chen doesn’t happen again.
Chen was charged with assault and forcible confinement after catching and tying up a shoplifter. He was acquitted Friday when a judge ruled it a citizen’s arrest.
“Now that the case has been ruled on, and common sense has prevailed, this government _ myself, the minister of justice _ have instructed the Department of Justice and instructed officials to look at possible changes to the Criminal Code to prevent incidents like Mr. Chen’s from occurring again,” Harper told the House of Commons.
The huge public outcry over Chen’s case _ especially in vote-rich Toronto _ caught the attention of the government and opposition parties.
Liberal MP Joe Volpe and New Democrat MP Olivia Chow, who represent’s Chen’s riding, have already both introduced private member’s bills to change to the law.
Their support for changes morphed into an auction-like zeal to pass legislation following Harper’s announcement.
Chow expressed hope that amendments can be whisked through Parliament by Christmas. Not to be outdone, Volpe said changes to the Criminal Code could be approved in a mere 48 hours with unanimous opposition support.
Only Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe was circumspect, saying he needs to see details of the proposed changes before deciding whether to support them.
Catching a thief in the act is currently a requirement of the law when making a citizen’s arrest. Chen captured the shoplifter one hour after he stole plants from the store. However, Justice Ramez Khawly called the one-hour issue a “red herring,” saying the thief had gone back for more loot.
Chow said she hopes the government will adopt the essence of her bill, which would have allowed for a “reasonable amount of time” in making a citizen’s arrest.