Brian Lilley here...
It’s been two years since floods devastated large sections of southern Alberta.
The flooding, which saw water fill the Calgary Saddledome up into the seats, should have been memorable enough for the destruction that ensued.
Instead, many of us also remember it for something else, the unprecedented assault on civil liberties, the illegal search and seizures that took place particularly in High River.
Yes, I’m talking about the High River gun grab because it has been two years and still no justice, no action for those that saw the Mounties become the breakers of law instead of the enforcers.
It is an event that has had real consequences regarding trust and the police.
You don’t have to take my word that they broke the law.
We have a report from an RCMP watchdog group that says the Mounties broke the law when they decided to enter homes and seize property without warrants or any legal authority.
The Mounties claimed they had legal authority to enter homes because of the emergency and that they only seized guns in plain view.
The report by Ian MacPhail, chair of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, said that's not the case:
"In a number of instances, RCMP members seized firearms that were properly secured or that were not in plain view. In these cases the firearms were not removed with lawful authority."
The report also points out that while officers might have been justified in entering homes initially to search for survivors, subsequent visits to seize guns amounted to illegal, warrantless searches.
The report details that some homes were visited two and three times.
Even in cases where the RCMP seized guns left in plain sight, they still broke the law because they did not report the seizures to a judge as required by law:
"Absent a warrant, RCMP members were obligated to report their seizures to a justice pursuant to section 489.1 of the Criminal Code. The judicial oversight component of seizures cannot be overstated in the context of police officers taking personal property from a home."
The actions of the RCMP not only damaged the reputation of the police force they damaged trust with the people.
A series of polls of High River residents conducted by the National Firearms Association found that...
* 54% of High River residents say they won't evacuate in the next emergency
* 67% of High River residents did not agree with the RCMP Complaints Commission Report finding that entry of the 4,666 homes by the RCMP was "appropriate"
* 54% support a judicial inquiry
I don’t think a judicial inquiry will happen, if it was going to, someone would have called it already.
Given that the RCMP act under provincial authority in High River it should have been then Premier Allison Redford. Premier Jim Prentice didn’t call one when the report came out in February, he passed. In fact, I’m not even sure if he was asked much about it by a media that doesn’t seem interested in this story.
And now with Premier Rachel Notley will you get an inquiry?
Not likely, but that doesn’t mean we give up completely.
It’s time to keep pressure up so that there is no repeat of High River.
So that police know not to act like that again.
So we are launching a petition drive and I invite you to sign this, share it with your friends and family and make sure that police and politicians, be they municipal, provincial or federal know that you can’t treat law abiding gun owners like this.
Please SIGN THE PETITION by clicking on the red buttons at the top or bottom of this page.
Make your voice heard.
All through my coverage of this story I have gone back to a quote that is hundreds of years old. It's from William Pitt in 1763, speaking in the British Parliament:
"The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storms may enter, the rain may enter,—but the King of England cannot enter; all his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement."
That quote, which was referenced in the RCMP complaints commission report, should be on the mind of every police officer.
We all want gun safety. We all understand rescuing survivors in an emergency. But that doesn’t mean you can forget the rest of the rights you are sworn to uphold.
Please click on the red button at the top of this page to SIGN THE PETITION.
Then SHARE HandsOffOurGuns.ca with friends and family.
Join me in keeping up the fight.
I'm Brian Lilley, and remember: I’m on your side.
We call on the RCMP and police forces across Canada to respect the property rights of law abiding gun owners. We call upon the governments that oversee those police forces to never again allow the kind of illegal search and seizure that we saw in High River.