Weekly Commentary  

Vigilante or Vigilant?

Remember the Chinese grocer in Toronto who got arrested and charged for doing a citizen's arrest?

A thief had been regularly targeting his store by doing 'grab and run' hits. The grocer, Mr. Chen, tried calling the police on a number of occasions, but each time the robber was well on his way long before any help could arrive.

Mr. Chen however had clear video of the culprit. Other merchants on the street also knew who the 'hit man' was as a number of their stores had also been robbed by him.

Mr. Chen was told that unless the law breaker was caught in the act it was going to be pretty tough to get him arrested and convicted. So, the next time the offender swooped down on the store Mr. Chen and his son were ready. They gave chase, caught him, tied him up and called the police.

Imagine their surprise when the police arrived and after the dust had settled it was Mr. Chen who was eventually arrested, charged and faced the real possibility of jail time.

If you were watching the case at the time you will recall the public outrage that swept not just the streets of Toronto but in fact went from coast to coast.

As legislators we obviously cannot directly intervene in any particular case that is before the courts. We have taken some steps though. Our government has brought forth legislation that gives citizens some protections when they take steps to defend themselves, their family or their property from criminal attacks.

Mr. Chen was eventually acquitted after suffering all kinds of personal stress and considerable expense. This week Prime Minister Harper personally visited Mr. Chen to encourage him and to give him his personal support.

In an ironic twist of timing another incident was in the news the day of the Prime Minister’s visit to Mr. Chen. If you haven't seen this one you can check it out on YouTube. An Ontario man had captured on video his home being attacked by three masked individuals who literally firebombed his dwelling and his property with multiple volleys of Molotov cocktails.

They bombed his actual home while he was still in it. While under attack, the owner emerged and is alleged to have fired some shots in the air to ward off the assailants. Apparently, the owner is a firearms instructor and expert marksman who could have hit any target he had wanted to.

Now he has been arrested and charged and could also possibly face jail time.

Again, we as MPs' cannot directly intervene in court proceedings. We understand that. Again, public anger and consternation is everywhere on this matter. There is a strong sense that the right of citizens to adequately defend themselves is in question.

For those of you here who have raised the issue with me I can assure you we are determined to get the necessary legislation through Parliament as soon as we can which will protect citizens who are legitimately trying to protect themselves.

We will be appealing to the Liberals and the NDP to work with us on this so it can move ahead without inordinate delay.

Prime Minister Harper has been honoured by the United Nations in being one of two world leaders who have been asked to give leadership and oversight to a $40 Billion United Nations fund.

This fund, provided by nations from around the world, is to be directed towards Children's and Maternal health in impoverished countries. As Canadians we can take some pride in Canada being acknowledged in this way.

This week the Prime Minister will be having meetings with the administrators of the fund to set guidelines and priorities.

Good news on the economic front for Canadians this week. Retail spending numbers are always a measure of the level of consumer confidence in the economy. Economists make predictions on what the retail numbers will be over a given period of time.

The numbers up to the end of November were released this week. It had been a matter of front page coverage in the national media some time ago that economists were predicting any gains would be weak at best.

However, the numbers just released this week showed Canadians had the discretionary funds and the confidence to spend beyond what the economists had predicted. In other words, the retail economy performed in a healthier manner than was predicted by the 'experts'.

You may have missed seeing those positive growth reports this week. They mostly did not appear on front pages. They showed up in places in various newspapers like page D8 or C2. I never have figured out why positive news generally doesn't get the same profile as negative.

I held a number of public pre-budget consultation round tables this week as did my colleague, Member of Parliament Ron Cannan. I can tell you we are getting some good practical advice from constituents on how the government can be doing better when it comes to issues of federal taxation, regulation and red tape reduction.

Some of your advice will be showing up in the Budget. In spite of a lot of cynicism these days regarding politics in general, individuals can still come forward with ideas that make a difference.

This week I will be involved in more of these roundtables in Edmonton, BC and Quebec.

At the risk of sounding like I favour the types of input I've been getting right here in the constituency (okay, I do) I can tell you that the suggestions I'm getting here are as compelling as anywhere.

Thank you for that. Keep in touch.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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