Criminal Code: Murder or Manslaughter

The word "Court" intertwined in the fascia above the side entrance to Toronto's Old City Hall from the dayIn online conversations I’ve had regarding the Colten Boushie killing, there seems to be some confusion about the law, but there doesn’t have to be in this Internet age when we can access Canadian law online.

Citizens don’t need to be lawyers to read The Criminal Code of Canada and discover the difference between what we think our laws are and what they actually are.

Although I am not a lawyer, I have highlighted what I think are the pertinent portions of the Criminal Code that are potentially relevant to the Colten Boushie killing.

Culpable homicide (4) Culpable homicide is murder or manslaughter or infanticide. Marginal note:Idem (5) A person commits culpable homicide when he causes the death of a human being, (a) by means of an unlawful act; (b) by criminal negligence; (c) by causing that human being, by threats or fear of violence or by deception, to do anything that causes his death; or (d) by wilfully frightening that human being, in the case of a child or sick person.

Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide Marginal note:Murder 229 Culpable homicide is murder (a) where the person who causes the death of a human being (i) means to cause his death, or (ii) means to cause him bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause his death, and is reckless whether death ensues or not; (b) where a person, meaning to cause death to a human being or meaning to cause him bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause his death, and being reckless whether death ensues or not, by accident or mistake causes death to another human being, notwithstanding that he does not mean to cause death or bodily harm to that human being; or (c) where a person, for an unlawful object, does anything that he knows or ought to know is likely to cause death, and thereby causes death to a human being, notwithstanding that he desires to effect his object without causing death or bodily harm to any human being.

Murder reduced to manslaughter 232 (1) Culpable homicide that otherwise would be murder may be reduced to manslaughter if the person who committed it did so in the heat of passion caused by sudden provocation. Marginal note:What is provocation (2) Conduct of the victim that would constitute an indictable offence under this Act that is punishable by five or more years of imprisonment and that is of such a nature as to be sufficient to deprive an ordinary person of the power of self-control is provocation for the purposes of this section, if the accused acted on it on the sudden and before there was time for their passion to cool. Marginal note:Questions of fact (3) For the purposes of this section, the questions (a) whether the conduct of the victim amounted to provocation under subsection (2), and (b) whether the accused was deprived of the power of self-control by the provocation that he alleges he received, are questions of fact, but no one shall be deemed to have given provocation to another by doing anything that he had a legal right to do, or by doing anything that the accused incited him to do in order to provide the accused with an excuse for causing death or bodily harm to any human being.

Manslaughter 234 Culpable homicide that is not murder or infanticide is manslaughter.

Manslaughter 236 Every person who commits manslaughter is guilty of an indictable offence and liable (a) where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and (b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.

Conviction for infanticide or manslaughter on charge of murder (3) Subject to subsection (4), where a count charges murder and the evidence proves manslaughter or infanticide but does not prove murder, the jury may find the accused not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter or infanticide, but shall not on that count find the accused guilty of any other offence. Marginal note:

You are, of course, welcome to check out the law for yourself:

David Weber warns Bill C-51 will lead to a Police State #RejectTerror #StopBillC51


Guest post by David Weber    

David very much wanted to attend the Kitchener-Waterloo Day of Action Against Bill C-51 because he had something to say about how Bill C-51 will impact on our society. Unfortunately he had to work at his day job in law enforcement.   So those of us who were able to attend were fortunate Nadine was able to come in David’s stead and read the words he’d written to share his insight.   I asked David if I could share them here so you can read what he has to say for yourself.

Nadine Quehl reads Green Party Candidate David Webers words on the March 14 2015  <b>Kitchener-Waterloo Day of Action against Bill C51</b> at Kitchener City Hall
Nadine reads Green Party Candidate David Weber’s words
at the March 14th, 2015 Kitchener-Waterloo Day of Action against Bill C51 at Kitchener City Hall

The erosion of our rights began in the wake of 9/11

This is what I’ve been thinking about with this Bill C-51 “Anti-terror’ legislation and why you need to join in this day of protest.

David Weber,  Guest Blogger
David Weber

Having done policing for three decades, I have seen an enormous amount of procedural change in the job. One recent change, is officers not having to do an official “Return to the Justice of the Peace” to report when we have seized cell phone information without a warrant. This is meant to make it less cumbersome to do the job for what we would do anyways. But if we are doing it rarely, a return of information reporting to a justice is simple and not a big deal. When requiring no returns, there is no way for an agency outside of policing to track how often seizures are made. This can also increase the use of such investigative activity when there is no accountability. This is one example that might make the average police officer happy, but it worries me about the quality of our society.

The new anti-terror legislation being brought out in Bill C-51 is claimed to be about protecting us.

I think it is more about making it easier to lock people up before they can cause much dissent. Silencing the difference of opinion before others become swayed to speak up themselves.

Consider the contrast between our old laws standing on their own in regards to lawful picketing, causing a disturbance and trespassing, and what these offences become when the anti-terror legislation is finalized. Trespassing to picket an oil pipeline is a $65 fine.

Without a municipal permit, a peaceful protest can be considered a terrorist action under Bill C-51

The tough on terror legislation says it doesn’t apply to lawful protesters, but once you commit that illegal act of trespassing during a protest, you now become a terrorist by the legislation definition. You are also a terrorist if you are engaged in a non-violent protest that has a large assembly of people without a permit to march or what have you that a local municipality says you require to congregate, so that you are no longer part of a “lawful” protest.

The Criminal Code of Canada has long had offences for spying, treason, making bombs and detonating them in terrorist acts, sedition, etc. We have ability to gather intelligence on known radical operators. The increased spying bill will watch every citizen under a microscope without any serious oversight, at a much-increased cost and with no safety gain. It will not stop the lone wolf operators that strike without communications being shared beforehand. It will suppress free communication of citizens to talk about how oil pipelines are a bad thing, because when the government is supporting them and claiming they are a part of our healthy economy, your opposition makes you against our secure economy and therefore a terrorist.

As a suspected terrorist, you can be held without a right to a lawyer or notification to your family or friends that you are in custody.

This is the rise of a police state.  This is the end of many of your rights for freedom.

We are allowing our government to eliminate the freedoms our fathers and grandfathers went to war to protect.

The citizens of Germany gave away their rights similarly pre-world war 2.

Turkey is currently passing the same legislation as Canada’s Bill C-51, but in Turkey there are chairs and punches being thrown in the argument between those pro-free and those pro-surveillance with forfeiture of rights.  We might not want to resort to punches, but we should not accept this legislation.

Our freedom is worth too much to allow it to be taken away.

What you can do to help:

If you are able, please join in a rally near you to protest this bill. If you are not able, please write your MP a letter telling him you are against this assault on our freedom.



Guest Blog - Nadine Quehl reads David Weber's words at the Rally
Nadine reads David Weber’s words at the #StopBillC51 Rally at Kitchener City Hall

Long time Fair Vote Canada member David Weber is the federal Green Party Candidate for the new Kitchener-South-Hespeler Electoral District in 2015.

My photos are released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License and you’ll find more in my National Day of Action to Stop Bill C51 Flickr album

Byron Sonne and… Copyright?

Byron Sonne’s trial resumed today. Without being there, I can only rely on the reports of others.  I wasn’t going to write anything about this today, but I couldn’t believe the National Post’s attempt to spin the story with a headline:

Accused G20 plotter Byron Sonne had training manual for activists,’ court hears

Free Byron

The word “plotter” does not appear once in the Criminal Code of Canada  so there is little doubt in my mind that the use of such a pejorative word is a clear indication of the newspaper publisher’s bias.

What was most disturbing to me is that the gist of the article seemed to be that Byron “had uploaded a document called Security Culture: A Handbook for Activists. ” Curious, the first thing I did was type the title in a google search.   In seconds Google presented me with “51,900 results.”  So naturally I clicked on the first one and downloaded the linked PDF file.

Security Culture:
a handbook for activists

Your Rights

INVESTIGATORS. You do not have to talk to them on
the street, if you’ve been arrested, or even if you’re in
jail. Do not talk about illegal actions with fellow “in-
mates” in holding as they may be plants.

to see the warrant. It must specificallydescribe the
place to be searched and things to be seized. It must
be authorized by a judge and should bear a signature.

Carefully observe the officers; you’re in your own
home you’re not required to stay in one room. You
should take written notes of what they do, their
names, badge numbers, and what agency they’re
from. Have friends who are present act as witnesses.
It’s risky to let cops roam around alone in your place.

JUST SAY NO. The police are very skilled at getting
information from people, so attempting to outwit them
is very risky. You can never tell how a seemingly
harmless bit of information can hurt you or someone

Security Culture:
a handbook for activists, Third edition – prepared November 2001

Call me crazy, but I read the same sort of thing on Boing Boing not so long ago. And yesterday I found a video produced by The Centre for Police Accountability (C4PA) where Toronto lawyer Davin Charney explains much the same thing.

These are all explanations of our Canadian civil rights — rights that are supposed to be guaranteed to all citizens under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The thing that bothers me most about the National Post article is the implication that this is a dangerous document. That there is something unsavory about citizens knowing what our right are. Now that scares me.

“If we don’t assert our rights there’s really no point in having rights.”

Davin Charney, Know Your Rights: Do you have to show ID to the police?

The other thing I’ve read are today’s trial notes taken by Byron’s friend Christopher Olah. Reading this is far more illuminating than the “professional” reporting in the National Post.

The police evidence is that Byron uploaded a file called “Security Culture: a handbook for activists,” but as it turns out, no one actually downloaded this (or any of the other files?) Byron is said to have uploaded to torrent sites.

Yet it is ridiculously easy to change a digital file name. Any can save a document and call it anything.

Even had this been a dangerous file, if the police didn’t actually download it, the only thing this “evidence” shows is that Byron uploaded digital files with these names. There is no evidence that the files actually contained the named documents — they could as easily contain love poetry for all anyone knows.

Which means that this “evidence” is supposition, not fact. But it gets worse…


copyright symbol over a red maple leaf

Apparently the prosecution offered the explanation that they could not download the document because doing so  would be copyright infringement.

Um.  Where did they get that idea?

I looked very closely at the Security Culture: a handbook for activists PDF document I just downloaded and nowhere is there anything resembling a copyright declaration.  There is no copyright ©.

This “handbook” is clearly a collaborative effort that various people and organizations have worked on over time.  If anyone involved in the creation of the thing  had given any thought to copyright, it would likely have been to give it a creative commons license, or even more probably released it directly into the public domain.  That’s what you do when you want to disseminate something widely.  Copyright prevents sharing.

But really, even if the document was in fact “protected” by copyright, this is one of the lamest excuses I have ever heard.

When the police bust criminals, they must gather evidence.  If they apprehend alleged drug dealers, they collect illegal drugs they find. If the police arrest suspected gun runners, they take possession of the guns.  And these are both examples of breaches of criminal law. But for sections 42 and 43 of the Copyright Act (which deal primarily with commercial copyright infringement), the Copyright Act is still primarily civil law.  There are fair dealing exemptions under Canadian law that allow copying of copyright material.  It is absurd to think that downloading material that may be covered by copyright in the course of evidence gathering is going to be considered infringement, any more than gathering up baggies of cocaine at a crack house are considered criminal “possession.” This is evidence gathering.

Torrents are not Illegal

The other thing that strikes me is the implication that uploading material to torrent sites is illegal. Nothing could be further from the truth.   Bit Torrent is a way of allowing very efficient use of internet bandwidth to share files.   There is all sorts of legal sharing done via torrent sites, from movies (Sita Sings The Blues or Die Beauty), to free software (Ubuntu, Open Office, Firefox) to eBooks (Project Gutenberg and Project Gutenberg Canada) and our very own Pirate Party of Canada, which established its very own “Pirate Tracker” to legally distribute freely licensed independent Canadian music via torrents.

[*note: edited 20 March, 2012 for factual clarification …thanks Russell!]