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February 15, 2012 / amanda stratton

You Might Want to Consider Being an Unmasked Crusader

For at least one reason, I love Bill C-309 which goes to a vote today in the house. That reason is that it’s simple and the parts of the Criminal Code it seeks to amend are simple. Not, perhaps, in terms of effect or application, but definitely in readability. It only took me… wait a second… eleven browser tabs to understand it fully. Go Bill C-309!

Oh, but we don’t make Parliamentary decisions based on readability? Well I guess I’ll say more then.

BILL C-309
seeks, essentially, to make it more illegal* to assemble unlawfully or riot while wearing a disguise than to do so without one. If passed, a summary conviction for regular old rioting with your best face forward could set you back a couple years in jail. Doing it while donning your Guy Fawkes mask could land you in prison for up to five.

*No, there’s no such thing as more illegal. That’s like saying you’re more pregnant. There’s just pregnant or not; illegal or not. What I mean of course is that it would be considered an offense worthy of stronger punishment. I will continue, however, to refer to that as more illegal for the rest of this post.

Should doing something illegal while you’re wearing a mask be more illegal than doing it without a mask?
As a matter of fact, it actually already is more illegal to do certain things while wearing a mask. That is, it is illegal to commit an indictable offence while in disguise of any kind. That offense alone carries a maximum sentence of ten years.

STUDY BREAK: Indictable versus Summary
Indictable offences are the really bad ones, and they care heavier sentences, and you usually get a trial by jury.

Summary offences are the lesser ones, they carry lighter sentences, and you don’t get a trial by jury.

Rioting is defined as disturbing the peace tumultuously. That’s illegal, and it’s an indictable offense. It carries a maximum sentence of two years.

You’re also assembled unlawfully if three or more of you are gathered together and are giving people in the vicinity reasonable grounds to believe that you might disturb the peace tumultuously or that you might provoke other people to do so without cause. Participating in an unlawful assembly (without rioting) is a summary conviction offense .

Essentially, the changes proposed in C-309 would make it so that doing either of those things while “wearing a mask or other disguise” would be an indictable offense and carry a maximum sentence of five years.

Which should mean (right? I couldn’t find anyone who knew for sure) that in some instances, this actually reduces the maximum sentence for rioting with a mask from the maximum sentence of ten years for all other masked indictable offenses.

I’d think presumably because wearing a mask emboldens (but does not necessarily embiggen) the spirit. People will do things with the expectation of anonymity that they wouldn’t do if they knew that they would have to do it wearing the same face their momma kisses.

What it’s important to note is that simply wearing a disguise would be STILL NOT ILLEGAL.
Wearing a disguise while participating in a lawful assembly would be STILL NOT ILLEGAL.

So, if you just happen to like wearing disguises because that’s, you know, your thang, then you’re okay. Just don’t do illegal stuff while you’re wearing it. But that’s okay, right? Because you weren’t going to do anything illegal anyway. I’d not have thought so.

Bill C-309 gets voted either back to a committee or out tonight at 5:30. I’ll be at work. So if you see what happens, let me know. I mean it. Tweet me or something, and you’d be my bestest bloggy friend forever.

I assume it will go to committee because in addition to it being Conservative-backed, there isn’t a very strong opposition to it, as far as I could tell.

For reading along on this journey that I will retrospectively call, “Amanda looked all this stuff up and didn’t want to just close the tabs and let it go, so she wrote a post about it.”

What you think. Or that you read this. Or what you’d like for Easter. Whatever. Feel free to talk back is what I’m saying.

Sources for this Article
Bill C-309 
The Criminal Code


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