06.09.2015 08:20 AM

The Edmonton tragedy, and Freemen on the land

In 1996, I was in Montana when the Freemen were in full revolt.  They effectively paralyzed the entire state for weeks in an armed standoff.

Essentially, these guys (they are almost always guys) believe that they are “sovereigns” and that statute law – criminal law, by-laws, etc. – are contracts that they can opt out of.  They believe they are only subject to “natural law.”  Thus, their fixation on property and gun rights, and their disdain for human rights laws, environmental and animal protection, and so on. They’re nuts.

In Ontario, a milder version of them is found in the Ontario Landowners, an anti-government group of loons who have essentially taken over a vast swath of the Ontario PC party.  In the U.S., the most extreme variant is the Posse Comitatus, who are avowedly anti-Semitic, racist and violent.

With a few notable exceptionsCanadian Freemen had in recent years contented themselves with tying up the courts with what one judge accurately termed OPCAs – Organised Pseudolegal Commercial Arguments.  Until Edmonton last night.

Let’s remember Edmonton Hate Crimes Unit officer Dan Woodall, killed last night by a man reported to be Freeman Norman Raddatz.  Woodall was a hero, and he and his family deserve our thanks, from coast to coast.

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    Joe says:

    Heartfelt condolences to Constable Daniel Woodall’s widow and family and to the police service he served.

    I knew a ‘freeman on the land’. He is the son of American parents. He has some very twisted conspiracy theories but none that I am aware of that bordered on hate or killing. He simply didn’t recognize the duly established order and spent a lot of time in jail as the result. He would regularly get caught driving without a license or insurance and refuse to pay the fines. I haven’t talked to him for a number of years and I don’t know if he still holds those goof ball ideas or not. I do know that his parents are not real proud of him.

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    P Brennan says:

    will be interesting to see background of Norman Raddatz …Constable Waddall worked for hate crimes unit ..doing his job lost his life… we need to come down hard on hate speech as it breeds this type of hate and violence.

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    Joseph says:


    “Knecht would not comment on the shooter. Edmonton police tweeted early Tuesday that they were no longer looking for a suspect but did not elaborate.”

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    Matt says:

    I realize this is just post event armchair quarter backing but:

    Did EPS know this guy was one of these Freeman type lunatics, and if so couldn’t they have:

    A) Had him under surveillance and tried a arrest him when he was away from his home, or

    B) Used SWAT to do a dynamic entry early in the morning while he was sleeping?

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      Warren says:

      Apparently multiple officers were there. Sometimes – I learned as a cop reporter – all the prep in the world can’t offset some bad luck.

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      Joe says:

      There were multiple officers at the scene and they had the house surrounded. That is how they concluded the body they found in the burned out basement was the shooter so soon after the event. This leads me to conclude that the police were aware the danger this individual presented. That being said I don’t think that all feeman on the land nutbars are dangerous any more than all the old 1960 hippies were communists. I completely disagree with The freeman philosophy but I also know that just because someone has those silly ideas does not mean that he/she is dangerous to the police or those around him/her. The fellow I knew had been arrested 6 times with little more than the police saying, “OK George its time to get in the car”, and George obeying.

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    David Imrie says:

    Here’s one time I agree with you. Odd how what was the most right wing province is also anti-police (I guess Saskatchewan holds that honour now).

    My brother was a 35-year Toronto officer, my two nephews and a niece-in-law currently serve on the TPS. Like this officer, all are parents. My heart goes out to his family.

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    Brian noble says:

    What is the source on his association with the Freemen?

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    Jeff says:

    Ontario Landowners Association is not affiliated with Freeman-on-the-Land movement…

    I want to bring some understanding to what the Ontario Landowners Association believes and stands for, as well as to clarify that recent accusations about me being a “Freeman-on-the-Land” are absolutely false.

    The “Freeman-on-the-land” core belief seems to be something along the lines of them believing they can lawfully refuse to give consent to be governed and therefore no laws or statutes apply to them. I do not support or agree with that belief.

    As an active member of the Ontario Landowners Association, I echo and support the Ontario Landowners Association beliefs in the Canadian Constitution and Charter, who’s opening line states “…Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law…”

    The Ontario Landowners Association, like myself, are not anti-government, but believe that holding police, government and their agents accountable to the same “rule of law” that applies to us, is important.

    The Ontario Landowner’s Association is primarily focused on private property rights, and members in general, agree that these rights include freedom to own land, freedom to use it for our own enjoyment, freedom to profit from our toil on it, freedom to have jurisdiction over it, and if any of those rights are ever infringed upon for the public good, the expectation of reasonable and timely compensation. Along with this freedom, would come the responsibility that actions on our property would not harm our neighbour’s property.

    In conclusion, the Ontario Landowners Association and myself are not affiliated in any way with the “Freeman-on-the-land” movement, and do not support its beliefs at all.

    Jeff Sherk, Tiny, ON

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