- Our Town
Fleeing driver denies authority
By Tim Petruk,
What happens when an accused criminal refuses to accept he’s bound by Canada’s laws? He’s convicted anyway.
At least that’s how it went in Kamloops provincial court last week when 27-year-old Ian James McDonald stood trial on three charges stemming from a police pursuit in the Shuswap in November.
McDonald took no issue with the facts as outlined by police witnesses – that he was pulled over by police for having an illegal licence plate, he was not in possession of a valid B.C. driver’s licence and he fled police after the initial traffic stop.
What he did have an issue with, however, was the RCMP’s authority over him.
McDonald was pulled over on Squilax-Anglemont Road on Nov. 28 after a Chase Mountie spotted a suspicious licence plate.
The plate turned out to be homemade and the driver of the grey Toyota Tercel – later identified as McDonald – didn’t have a licence.
When the officer returned to his police cruiser to run the Tercel’s VIN, McDonald took off – and he refused to pull over again until RCMP set up a roadblock a short distance away.
“When he got into statute this and obligation that . . . I just disregarded him,” McDonald said in court.
“I have no reason to believe he has any authority over me.
“The fact that he’s following me with his lights on? That’s his business, not mine.
“I was not fleeing from him, I was just acting as though he wasn’t there.”
McDonald questioned the arresting officer in court, Cpl. Mark Skotnicki, on the law and its authority over him.
“I fail to understand what binds me to these rules,” McDonald told the Mountie during cross-examination.
“The law applies to all of us,” Skotnicki replied.
“If I don’t accept that, then what?” McDonald asked.
“If you don’t like the laws of this country, you can go somewhere else where the laws are more suited to you,” the officer responded.
In his closing submissions, McDonald, who was self-represented at trial, called legislation “arbitrary whims” and argued he hadn’t committed a crime because B.C. exists “only on paper.”
At one point, McDonald, citing an obscure piece of federal legislation, argued that Canada exists only on waterways and oceans, not land.
“As far as I’m concerned, my only obligation is to do no harm and honour my contracts,” he said.
“I believe the province is basically a figment of imagination created on paper.”
Kamloops provincial court Judge Stephen Harrison was far from dismissive, engaging in a five-minute conversation questioning McDonald on his beliefs.
“I’m guilty of the facts, absolutely,” McDonald finally said. “The problem is, what’s the point?
“If the Crown was to accuse me of wearing a black T-shirt, I’d be guilty of that, too – but it’s not a crime.”
Harrison didn’t buy McDonald’s persistent arguments, however, convicting him on counts of fleeing police and driving while prohibited.
The Crown was seeking a jail term of between two and four weeks. McDonald said he had been offered a plea bargain amounting to a fine of $800 – a deal that was taken off the table as soon as his trial got underway.