An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
I’VE SAID IT before and I’ll say it again — the law is an ass.
I’m not the first one who ever said that, but I’m pretty sure if Charles Dickens was around for the 2017 wildfire season, he’d agree.
A resident of 105 Mile House decided to stay behind when the community was evacuated. Another resident asked him to check on a pet left in the person’s home. So the man went to the house.
Police doing a patrol of the neighbourhood Monday night saw lights on in the house and found the guy in the back yard. He’s being charged with being unlawfully in an evacuated zone.
There’s nothing illegal about ignoring an evacuation order, because nobody can force you to leave your own home. But, according to RCMP, you should stay there.
Looting is a big worry and for good reason. Bad people like to take advantage of other people’s misfortunes, and empty communities make for easy pickings. Police were correct in being suspicious of what was going on in the 105 Mile House situation.
But come on. Their rationale for charging the fellow is exceedingly lame. “To us, that is a break and enter,” said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Janelle Shoihet of the fact he didn’t have keys, though it appears the idea of charging him with a B&E has been dropped, as has a charge of trespass at night.
The reason for insisting on a charge of failure to leave an evacuated zone, though, makes no sense. The guy had a right to stay home. A fellow resident gave him permission — nay, asked him — to go into the house to check on the pet’s welfare.
“We have to look at the bigger picture there,” Shoihet told CBC Radio in an interview. “We have to mitigate that risk…. Our job here is to ensure that our communities remain safe.”
What is the risk? That he might do a favour for another neighbor?
Crown counsel should take the RCMP recommendation to charge this guy and return with some suggestions on where to file it.