Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, April 22, 2016

Constitutional violations easy as pie

I Swear

Vic Fleming

His name is Cameron Ward.

He was born in Montreal in 1957, graduated from the University of Waterloo in 1979, and received his law degree in 1983 from the University of Ottawa. He was admitted to the Bar of British Columbia in 1984, practiced with major Vancouver firms for nine years, and then founded his own firm in 1993.

He is a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, the Canadian Bar Association, the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union. 

He has appeared as counsel before the Provincial Court, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of British Columbia, as well as the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada. He has also appeared before the Commission for Complaints against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the British Columbia Police Complaints Commission.

His practice includes commercial disputes, professional negligence, personal injury and civil liberties. He has written on legal affairs and been published in the Environmental Law Journal, the Advocate and the Globe & Mail.

He lives in Vancouver, B.C., has two children and enjoys golf, skiing, soccer, hockey, hiking, and fishing.

And, on Aug. 1, 2002, he was arrested on the streets of his hometown. The charge? Well, that’s where it gets kind of tricky.

You see, Jean Chretien—who at the time was the Canadian Prime Minister—was in town for a ceremonial opening of the Millennium Gate in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Ward was there in the crowd to witness the event, on a public sidewalk. He was confronted by police, who asked him whether he was planning to throw a pie at the prime minister.

You read that correctly. He was asked point blank, it seems, if he was going to throw a pie at the head of state. Ward replied, “No of course not. ... It would never cross my mind to throw a pie at him.” He was asked for some identification, and he refused, asserting that he was not required to do so under the law. 

Claiming that Ward matched the description of a man running down a nearby street who was reported to have been overheard planning a pie assault, the police searched Ward’s car. No pie was found, but they towed it anyway. Ward was put in handcuffs and taken to jail, where he was then strip-searched. (Were they still looking for the pie?) 

Ward was held in a small jail cell for over four hours. 

That turned out to cost the government about $2,500 per hour. For, in 2007, British Columbia Supreme Court Judge David Tysoe found that Ward’s constitutional rights had been violated and awarded a judgment of $10,100 against the City of Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia.

“He was too far away and was not in possession of a pie,” wrote the judge.

Ward told a TV reporter after the ruling that “The case was about vindicating my rights as a Canadian citizen to be free from police abuse.”

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.