An Open Letter to the Attorney-General of Ontario, the Honourable Chris Bentley
September 24, 2010
Dear Mr. Bentley;
I am writing to you in regard to a letter from the Civil Remedies for Illicit Activities Office, dated September 17, 2010, and addressed to Bruce and Donna Montague. This letter in effect advises Bruce and Donna to prepare for hearings "related to the forfeiture of property at 2269 Highway 105" here in Northwestern Ontario.
I ask you, as Attorney-General, to bring to a stop these proceedings so that the Montagues do not lose their home and do not live under the threat of losing their home.
Bruce Montague believed that certain laws relating to firearms were wrong and unconstitutional. He pursued his case through several levels of courts, and recently was denied the opportunity to appeal his conviction to the Supreme Court of Canada. He is presently imprisoned in Thunder Bay. Please understand that this letter relates only to the question of the forfeiture of their property. I believe that pursuing this course of action is unjust and unwise, for the following reasons.
Canadians, by and large, accept the rightness of laws which seek to prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes. The question is, does this category apply to the Montagues?
The crimes of which Bruce was convicted had nothing to do with taking money or property from others.
Bruce has not personally profited from his attempt to challenge the constitutionality of certain firearms regulations and laws.
The house on the property in question was built before the offenses were committed, so it cannot be considered a result of the illegal activity.
Even if it could be proven that Bruce had prospered as a direct result of his offences (which I do not grant), there remains the question of the proportionality of the punishment. Bruce is in prison. His livelihood as a gunsmith has been taken from him. I respectfully submit that to continue punitive action against him and his family is disproportionate to his offences.
Ministers of the Crown have an obligation to act impartially; perhaps in no area is this more important than in the administration of justice. Bruce has been found guilty and is imprisoned; the matter, I believe, should end there. To go beyond that, and to institute or continue proceedings which have anything to do with seizing any of the Montague family's property or possessions, does not convey the appearance of the impartial administration of justice. Rather, in the eyes of many people in the area where the Montagues live, and whether they agreed with Bruce or not, such proceedings give the impression of a vindictiveness on the part of the Crown, of a pettiness that does not become those with the high duty of impartially administering justice. I respectfully submit that any attempt to seize the home of the Montagues is bound to present the impression of partiality, and to undermine public respect for and confidence in our judicial system.
Canadian traditions of justice have always had a place for mercy. Mercy has many aspects, one of which is, to put it simply, punishing wrongdoers less than they might be punished according to the strictness of the law; another aspect of mercy is acting benevolently toward vulnerable members of society. May I request that you, the Attorney-General, reflect upon the realities that Bruce is not a career criminal and has never been convicted of a violent offence; that Donna is now alone in the house that the Montague family built, and fears that it may be taken from her, not by lawbreakers, but by those charged with providing justice for the people of Ontario.
Honourable Minister of the Crown, I respectfully submit that the demands of justice are adequately served by Bruce's imprisonment; that the principle of impartiality can be convincingly demonstrated by ceasing all actions against the Montague family; and that the exercise of mercy in this case is profoundly in the best interests of all parties involved.
206 Spruce Street,
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