Canadian Politics Today

Federal Politics => Canadian Politics => Topic started by: JMT on February 02, 2017, 09:28:12 am

Title: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: JMT on February 02, 2017, 09:28:12 am
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To lay terrorism-related charges against Bissonnette, prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the above was the motivation behind Sunday's attack at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec (Quebec Islamic cultural centre) that left six dead and 19 wounded.

It seems that the charge of terrorism is very onerous.  Do you think that charging Bissonnette with murder and attempted murder is enough?  Should this act have even been called terrorism?
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: guest4 on February 02, 2017, 09:54:56 am
I don't know what the legal definition of terrorism is so maybe there is a good reason.  Knowing what motive he may have provided to police or his lawyer would help.   He did embrace far-right rhetoric and there was a report early on about someone asking onine  when the Mosque would be busiest because he wanted to go protest
 I think at the very least it should be classed as a hate crime.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: JMT on February 02, 2017, 09:58:19 am
Apparently he was at the mosque the day before asking for money - I'm not sure what that was about, or how that played in to things.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: cybercoma on February 02, 2017, 10:05:15 am
It's definitely terrorism. People need to be sure to keep legal definitions separate and distinct from practical spoken language. Killing and terrorizing a population for political or ideological ends is terrorism and that's exactly what he did.

Whatever benchmarks they need to meet for legal proof is another topic altogether. Besides, 6 murder convictions and however many attempted murders are on top of that would essentially have the same or greater consequences for him anyway, so the specific terrorism charge is moot.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: Blueblood on February 02, 2017, 11:06:22 am
It's definitely terrorism. People need to be sure to keep legal definitions separate and distinct from practical spoken language. Killing and terrorizing a population for political or ideological ends is terrorism and that's exactly what he did.

Whatever benchmarks they need to meet for legal proof is another topic altogether. Besides, 6 murder convictions and however many attempted murders are on top of that would essentially have the same or greater consequences for him anyway, so the specific terrorism charge is moot.

Yup, easier to prove murder than terrorism.  I doubt he will see the light of day again.  A problem with this will be the lawyers drawing this mess out and soaking the taxpayers and courts time.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: SirJohn on February 02, 2017, 12:03:42 pm
Does it really matter? The charge is like adding a 'hate crime' charge to someone who assaulted a person. I mean, the murder or assault is all you need. You don't need anything more. Maybe we're in a culture where simply charging and convicting someone of a violent crime isn't seen as enough of a denunciation of the crime and we want to do more.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: JMT on February 02, 2017, 12:07:05 pm
Does it really matter? The charge is like adding a 'hate crime' charge to someone who assaulted a person. I mean, the murder or assault is all you need. You don't need anything more. Maybe we're in a culture where simply charging and convicting someone of a violent crime isn't seen as enough of a denunciation of the crime and we want to do more.

I think that's what it's really about - the symbolism.  I'm surprised they didn't do it just for that, but I guess there's just too much risk involved with such a charge.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: ?Impact on February 02, 2017, 12:50:41 pm
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Do you think that charging Bissonnette with murder and attempted murder is enough?  Should this act have even been called terrorism?


There is no substantial difference between this act and the one a couple of years ago in Ottawa where Corporal Nathan Cirillo was killed. That act was clearly called terrorism, and so should this one. The question of terrorism charges is a different issue for the crown prosecutor to decide. I believe there have only been 4 convictions (cases, not people) of terrorism charges, and I don't think any of them involved murder. The Ottawa case never made it to court because the offender was killed. If the offender is convicted of multiple counts of murder here, will terrorism charges put him away any longer? The prosecutor may decide that the extra burden of trying to prove terrorism may take away from the effort to get the murder charges.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: BC_cheque on February 02, 2017, 01:02:38 pm
I don't understand why it would be difficult to prove.  If it were the other way around with a Muslim person shooting up a Church, would anyone have any lingering doubts about the crimes being terrorism?

Same idea behind the famous line in A Time to Kill "now imagine she's white".

Crimes should not be treated differently because of someone's ethnicity. 
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: poochy on February 02, 2017, 01:08:19 pm
There is no way that a terrorism charge should get you anymore serious penalty than mass murder does, so call it Terrorism, or a hate crime or whatever, it's all of those things to somebody, but in the end, charge him with whatever best gets him locked up and keep him there.  Has there been any kind of news on what type of firearm he used?
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: JMT on February 02, 2017, 01:10:02 pm
No there hasn't been.  I have real trouble believing he got his hands on an AK47, but the lack of a correction speaks to that being a real possibility.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: cybercoma on February 02, 2017, 01:10:16 pm
A problem with this will be the lawyers drawing this mess out and soaking the taxpayers and courts time.
That's a feature of the system. The courts take the time to hear all arguments and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that people are guilty in order to limit as much as possible their ability to make mistakes. Context matters and while this seems cut and dried, everyone is entitled to a rigorous legal defense. That becomes especially important if you're charged with a crime and it's questionable, so those values are hard-baked into the system.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: cybercoma on February 02, 2017, 01:18:55 pm
I don't understand why it would be difficult to prove.
For a terrorism charge they have to prove intent, which can be incredibly difficult in itself to prove.

Quote
In Canada, section 83.01 of the Criminal Code[1] defines terrorism as an act committed "in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause" with the intention of intimidating the public "…with regard to its security, including its economic security, or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act."

Link: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/victim/rr09_6/p3.html

So we have a number of tricky elements here. They need to first establish that the crime was political, religious, or ideological in its purpose. They then have to establish that he intended to intimidate the public, as oppose to just killing Muslims for the express purpose of killing Muslims (which would be a hate crime and not terrorism). The law goes further though, it's not just intimidation, but intimidation with the express purpose of making the public feel insecure (including economic security [thanks Harper /s]) or for the purpose of forcing the government (or an organization) to do something or to stop doing something.

That's a lot of intent and purpose that you have to build a case around for terrorism. These are very difficult things to prove. Even when you have a number of things built up, you have to convince a jury that these intents and purposes are beyond any doubt whatsoever. If at any point there's reason to believe that those intents and purposes are not there, then it cannot be terrorism.

So what do they do? They peg him with murder. All they have to prove is that he intended to murder people and that he actually carried it out. That's FAR easier to prove. And with so many cases of murder and a lot more of attempted murder, those charges are almost certainly going to stick.

Legal definitions are different from scholarly and even common dictionary definitions. Make no mistake about it, this was an act of terrorism and should be called terrorism, but legal proof is a very different benchmark from editorial proof.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: Blueblood on February 02, 2017, 01:36:29 pm
A problem with this will be the lawyers drawing this mess out and soaking the taxpayers and courts time.
That's a feature of the system. The courts take the time to hear all arguments and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that people are guilty in order to limit as much as possible their ability to make mistakes. Context matters and while this seems cut and dried, everyone is entitled to a rigorous legal defense. That becomes especially important if you're charged with a crime and it's questionable, so those values are hard-baked into the system.

There's no arguement that it's a feature of the system and that's his right, however at one point when should a lawyer go to their client "your guilty, and it's time to face the music". My issue is with some legal defenses becoming so outlandish and time consuming that it flirts with interfering in the administration of justice and puts a large cost on society.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: Peter F on February 02, 2017, 02:04:42 pm
I don't know what the point of charging this individual with terrorism would be. Or Hate for that matter.  There is an actual reason to have specific laws. There is a reason for the terrorism laws and they aren't to simply pile on to other charges for other specific crimes.  One isn't charged for the lesser crime when there is already existing a greater charge.
We could conceivably charge him 6 times over for assault; assault with a deadly weapon; reckless endangerment; trespass; Hate; terrorism; improper storage of a fire-arm etc etc.     There is almost an aspect of charging the accused twice for the same crime: Murder charge x 6 for killing the people and terrorism charge x 1 (6?) for killing the people.
As mentioned before (possibly elsewhere - I forget) If he had been part of a group that planned and arranged this then Yes certainly terrorism charge for him and his compatriots but Mostly for his compatriots who actually never killed anyone. But there is no one else involved .   For that matter it has yet to be shown that Bissonnette was indeed the one who did the shooting!  All we know for sure is that the police picked him up far from the crime scene and that he confessed, and I'm not even sure he actually did that.   But then thats why police gather evidence.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: guest4 on February 02, 2017, 02:28:49 pm
I forget where I read it, so can't provide a link, but it seems he had a long gun that he started with, but it jammed so he went and got a handgun and used that.  Both weapons were found in his car. 

Coming in, shooting, leaving, coming back and using a different weapon might be why some people thought there were two shooters. 
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: cybercoma on February 02, 2017, 03:06:14 pm
when should a lawyer go to their client "your guilty, and it's time to face the music".
Honestly, never.

Why would I say that? Because the lawyer is not the judge nor jury.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: ?Impact on February 02, 2017, 03:08:00 pm
Most of the media has reported that a pistol and 2 [assault] rifles were recovered from his vehicle. There are some out there claiming that he owned a CZ-858 (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c3/Sa_58-JH01.jpg/1024px-Sa_58-JH01.jpg)
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: JMT on February 02, 2017, 03:12:14 pm
And that's interesting, since the CZ-858 is about to become a restricted weapon.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: guest4 on February 02, 2017, 03:14:06 pm
when should a lawyer go to their client "your guilty, and it's time to face the music".
Honestly, never.

Why would I say that? Because the lawyer is not the judge nor jury.

But if you don't have enough money or are a pro-bono client, they'll encourage you to plead guilty regardless of whether you are or not. 
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: cybercoma on February 02, 2017, 03:22:31 pm
But if you don't have enough money or are a pro-bono client, they'll encourage you to plead guilty regardless of whether you are or not. 
Unfortunately true and they shouldn't.

This is one of the key reasons I'm against mandatory minimum sentencing. It takes judgment away from the courts, namely the judges and juries, and it puts it into the hands of the prosecutors. They get people to plead guilty to lesser charges to avoid mandatory sentencing. Research has shown that a lot of times innocent people get put away from these. I have no idea why someone would plead guilty to something they didn't do, but when they think that the odds are stacked against them and believe they're getting off easy, they'll probably do anything.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: Blueblood on February 02, 2017, 07:30:10 pm
when should a lawyer go to their client "your guilty, and it's time to face the music".
Honestly, never.

Why would I say that? Because the lawyer is not the judge nor jury.

They are also supposed to not mislead the court. 

One would think part of providing legal advice would be to tell their clients that it's over and a guilty plea would spare the court an expense of a trial which comes with plea bargaining.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: the_squid on February 03, 2017, 12:41:30 pm

 A problem with this will be the lawyers drawing this mess out and soaking the taxpayers and courts time.

Would you prefer Saudi style where the trial takes a day and then they slice their head off?

to misuse a quote:          Our system of justice is terrible, except when you compare it against all the alternatives...
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: Blueblood on February 03, 2017, 01:14:37 pm

 A problem with this will be the lawyers drawing this mess out and soaking the taxpayers and courts time.

Would you prefer Saudi style where the trial takes a day and then they slice their head off?

to misuse a quote:          Our system of justice is terrible, except when you compare it against all the alternatives...

No, my issue is with the lawyers not seeing the writing on the wall and deciding to soak the taxpayers and clients for a large payday to concoct some far fetched defence.  Misleading the court is a big no-no and a lot of defence lawyers flirt with it.

I have no issue with the system itself allowing clients to defend themselves, my issue is with when lawyers given mountains of evidence in disclosure dragging out cases when they know their client is guilty. 
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: the_squid on February 06, 2017, 12:31:54 pm
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I have no issue with the system itself allowing clients to defend themselves, my issue is with when lawyers given mountains of evidence in disclosure dragging out cases when they know their client is guilty.

So if your lawyer tells you "you're guilty.  We're just going to have to live the obvious facts..."

You think a client is going to say "Duh...  yeah...  let's not worry about it then...   off to jail for the rest of my life"

Defence lawyers don't get to decide to not vigorously defend a client. 
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: Blueblood on February 06, 2017, 02:28:53 pm
So if your lawyer tells you "you're guilty.  We're just going to have to live the obvious facts..."

You think a client is going to say "Duh...  yeah...  let's not worry about it then...   off to jail for the rest of my life"

Defence lawyers don't get to decide to not vigorously defend a client.

It's not just defending it's representing the client.  Sometimes part of that representation is saying your screwed let's see what we can work out so that the judge sees we are not putting society through the expense of a trial.  Should defence counsel advise their clients to lie or defence mislead court to vigorously defend their clients?
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: ?Impact on February 06, 2017, 02:37:46 pm
It's not just defending it's representing the client.  Sometimes part of that representation is saying your screwed let's see what we can work out so that the judge sees we are not putting society through the expense of a trial.  Should defence counsel advise their clients to lie or defence mislead court to vigorously defend their clients?

True, and that happens probably way more than it should. Remember the burden of proof is on the prosecution, one is considered innocent until found guilty. The system however is far from perfect, and the defence lawyer may just want to push the case through so he/she can collect the fee - especially if the accused is not independently rich. The system is biased towards those with monetary resources.
Title: Re: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
Post by: Peter F on February 06, 2017, 03:41:04 pm
...  Should defence counsel advise their clients to lie or defence mislead court to vigorously defend their clients?

Are you claiming defence lawyers advise clients to lie? I think they'd be in a pretty mess should it be found that they did so. Disbarment, fines, perhaps prison. Mislead to vigorously defend clients is absolutely how the adversarial common law system works and the defence thinks their misleading will not be discovered.  But it is difficult to mislead when the Crown has all sorts of evidence gathering powers at its disposal.  It is up to the Crown to prove the case, not up to the defence to prove innocence.  I think you may be happier with a more European style  criminal law system. I probably would too.