Behold the lawless bastard, Randy Fleming. Almost nine years ago, he dared to walk along Argyle Street in the town of Caledonia, Ont., carrying a Canadian flag on a pole towards a peaceful so-called “flag rally”.
For this impudence, he was wrestled to the ground by a half-dozen Ontario Provincial Police officers, permanently injured and charged with obstructing police (though officers told him he was being arrested to “prevent a breach of the peace”, a loathsome preventative detention offence).
After 12 court appearances, the Crown abruptly withdrew the criminal charge.
Fleming sued the OPP and more than two years ago, he won.
Ontario Superior Court Judge Kim Carpenter-Gunn vindicated him, ruling that his arrest was unlawful, that the police used more force than necessary and that they breached his Charter and common-law rights.
She also awarded him almost $300,000 in general and special damages and legal costs.
But you annoy the state at your peril.
The state does not like being found in the wrong. The state does not brook defiance by individual citizens.
The state has the money to never say die.
The OPP, with its infinite resources, appealed. Three lawyers from the Ontario Attorney General were dispatched.
The decision was appealed, and last month, the appeal court overturned the Carpenter-Gunn decision, finding that the judge had made “palpable and overriding error” and that the OPP officers were justified in arresting Fleming, both “to prevent harm” being done to him and to prevent a breach of the peace.
In other words, said the appeal court, the police had been arresting him for his own good, the ungrateful swine.
And the court ordered Fleming to pay $25,000, or about half, of the government’s legal costs of the appeal.