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EDITORIAL – Charge against dutiful neighbour proves the law is an ass

Gustafsen wildfire near 100 Mile House. (Image: B.C. Wildfire Service)

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.

mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (4801 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

7 Comments on EDITORIAL – Charge against dutiful neighbour proves the law is an ass

  1. In this case, the law is not so much an ass , the policeman that laid the charges in the first place was.

  2. They are doing their job. THere’s more to this story. Maybe you should do something to help instead of sitting back being a critic.

  3. Purely and simply this is an effort to intimidate home owners who choose to stay and protect their “castle”. When you decide that you are the one to make the decision about whether your home should burns or not it is a reasoned decision based on the ability and confidence of the homeowner.ie Water systems available .Hydro reliability ie Wooden poles or steel ? and courage in the face of danger.Many homes could be saved by the simple installation of rooftop sprinklers. or “Fire Bozz” technology.(Look it Up) A 300 ft wet fire line will protect a lot of structures.
    To be held prisoner on your own property during a fire is unconscionable and may lead to injury .Apparently you can be arrested for leaving that property even to protect a neighbours house from embers that start spot fires.
    It is likewise unconscionable to be refused entry to your own home if you happen to be out when the evac comes down.This ,in my humble opinion is flagrant violation of an individuals rights under the charter of rights and freedoms.To highlight the extreme stupidity of this any person so prevented from returning to their home can stand in front of the cop and take several fentanyl tablets and still be within the law.But they cannot go home to protect their pets ,Art work or photos.Don’t ever tell me it’s just stuff.”it can all be replaced”Only an idiot would say “you can replace an original Morriseau.or A Y Jackson..They may not be worth dying for,
    but they are worth taking a calculated risk.
    Mme Shoihet !! We are not all fools.,so please stop treating as such.I do not believe the law is an ass but at times it (YOU) can be blind .Please start treating us as equals not incomprehensable idiots

  4. In this case, get off your high horse and wait. Once things calm down, and adrenaline levels recover, this will sort itself out. Somethings get over evaluated in stressful times.

  5. Yup, the law is an ass.

  6. ted guthrie // July 20, 2017 at 7:30 AM // Reply

    If the neighbour corroberates his story the issue is a non starter, the matter should be dropped and the police can move on still doing their job.

  7. The law maybe an ass..,but then what do we make out of the ones wearing an uniform…because a little discretion should always be an option.

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