Why is the Dog Owners' Liability Act of Ontario unconstitutional?
The Ontario government created and passed a piece of legislation that violates at least seven sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
Section 1: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
The government did not, and cannot, demonstrably justify the targeting of a breed of dog to enhance public safety. The limits cannot be considered as reasonable when less restrictive and discriminatory alternatives are available, particularly when those alternatives have already been shown to be more effective in reducing dog bites.
Section 7: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
Prosecution under this law cannot abide by the principles of fundamental justice when it cannot be obeyed, enforced, prosecuted, or defended because of its vagueness and its overbreadth. Residents of Ontario cannot know if they are required to obey this law, authorities must depend on subjectivity and bias to determine if the law is being broken, prosecutors don't have to prove guilt, and the defence is shouldered with the burden of proving the unprovable. Penalties include fines, jail time, and mandatory destruction of the dog.
Section 8: Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
With no proof of wrongdoing, no proof of danger to society, and no proof of the breed of their dog, an owner of any breed or mix may be subject to public seizure or warrantless entry into their private home for seizure of their personal property. This is regardless of the dog's breed.
Section 9: Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.
With no proof of wrongdoing, no proof of danger to society, and no proof of the breed of their dog, an owner of any breed or mix may be detained or jailed arbitrarily. This is regardless of the dog's breed.
Section 11: Any person charged with an offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Owners of any breed of dog are required to prove their innocence. In many cases, where the breed of dog is not legally provable, the owner becomes guilty at the moment of being charged, without any possibility of proving their innocence. Failure to prove innocence could result in fines, jail time, and mandatory destruction of the dog.
Section 15(1): Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination.
Dog owners of all breeds no longer have equal protection under the law. The law must, by its very nature, be applied arbitrarily and unfairly. Owners who, by their actions and history, have proven themselves to be responsible, law-abiding members of society, are targeted, restricted, and placed in the same class as those who are truly a danger to society. Dog owners of all breeds now have less rights than gang members and drug dealers.
Updated September 26, 2007
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