Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A law too far

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A PROPOSED law that would allow police to remove people from a licensed premise before they have committed a crime is easy to understand from a police point of view, but it strays beyond the limits of what can be justified in a democratic society.

Bill 43 is intended to target patrons who create a risk of violence, either because they are threatening, have a history of violence or are members of a gang.

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First, it’s questionable if police have the resources to respond to every case of anticipated violence. More importantly, however, the police already respond to complaints from bar owners about pending or real violence, without the requirement of special legislation.

Troublemakers can be banned from premises, and police can remove anyone who is causing problems.

But a law allowing police to remove anyone who might be a threat gives too much power to the state to intervene in the lives of citizens. The law should regulate misconduct, not apprehended or anticipated misbehaviour.

It also opens the door to harassment of individuals who have done nothing wrong, but whom someone believes might be a problem. It may be intended for gang members, but the problem with general legislation is that it sweeps up everyone in its grasp.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Gerald Flood, Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 1, 2013 a14

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