Knowing the law

Police in Canada have plenty of power to deter highway blockaders. So why aren't they using it?

Instead of using their powers to practice a "catch and release" strategy that only encourages public nuisance-makers, police need to send a stronger message.

We've had enough of being late to work, missing appointments, and having to rebook travel connections - just because a lawless handful think this is a legit method of getting their way.

In fact, it is a criminal offence to blockade a road. It's about time we treat shutdowns in keeping with the law.

Police should do the right thing and serve the needs of the vast majority of residents. Here are some of their choices:

Intimidation: Section 423(1) sets out up to five years in prison for anyone who "blocks or obstructs" a highway.

Mischief: Section 430(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada says it is an act of mischief when a person "renders property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective" or "obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property." This carries a punishment of up to two years in prison.

The Save Old Growth protesters have stated that the purpose of their blockades is to irritate the public to the point where frustrated motorists attack the blockaders physically, resulting in footage that the protesters can use to further ramp up their publicity campaigns.

That is completely unacceptable.

Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo drivers have been repeatedly targeted with these methods.

This is an intolerable abuse of public rights. A strong message needs to be sent. By making an example of offenders using powers that police already have, the nuisance will soon stop.