A Toronto shopkeeper, charged with assault and unlawful confinement for apprehending a thief, got some help from an unlikely source in court Wednesday: the thief himself.
Anthony Bennett, the star Crown witness, is perhaps the least sympathetic victim the courts at Old City Hall have seen in a long time. Mr. Bennett testified that he is an unreliable witness, a longtime drug dealer and drug addict, that he lied repeatedly to police under oath, and that he has been a thief for more than 30 years.
Mr. Bennett, 52, also told the court he had been tied up and pushed into a white van by David Chen, whom he identified in court Wednesday as the man who had chased him from the Lucky Moose Food Mart in Toronto’s Chinatown neighbourhood on May 23, 2009.
“I didn’t know if these guys were going to take me back to the store and then call police,” Mr. Bennett said.
“I didn’t know what their intentions were. Why couldn’t they just walk me back to the store? There were three of them. So, at that point I was in fear of my life, to be perfectly honest.”
“I was so happy to see [the police],” he added. “I felt relief to see them.”
But in court Mr. Bennett did not recognize Qing P. Li and Jie Chen, who are also charged, as the men who had helped to catch him.
The court watched store videotape that shows Mr. Bennett arrive by bicycle at the Lucky Moose, load a dozen plants into a cardboard box, two at a time, and then ride off with the box balanced on the handlebars. An hour later he returns, at which point Mr. Chen confronts him.
Mr. Bennett ran. Two residents of a nearby street testified Wednesday that they saw three men catch Mr. Bennett, tie him up and put him in a van.
“They tied him up with some kind of an extension cord,” Martin Bregman said. “At that point, a van pulled up and they were trying to get him in.”
Before lunch, Mr. Bennett took the stand. He is a short man, balding, with some curly hair on the top of his head. He wore a yellow golf shirt under a black windbreaker. He appeared tired and sat facing downward, rubbing his eyes. During cross-examination, he admitted that he returned to the Lucky Moose a second time on that sunny Saturday in May so he could steal more plants.
“Are you a thief?” asked Peter Lindsay, lawyer for Mr. Chen and the two other accused.
“Yes I am,” Mr. Bennett replied.
“You’ve been a thief for over 30 years,” Mr. Lindsay suggested.
“Yes I have,” Mr. Bennett said. But then he boiled over. “I didn’t tell him to friggin’ tie me up and to friggin’ throw me in the back of a van.”
“We will get there,” Mr. Lindsay said.
“Let’s get there,” Mr. Bennett replied. “It’s plants, man. I didn’t rob him with a gun.”
“You’re a bit of a hothead,” noted Mr. Justice Ramez Khawly, who is presiding over the trial. He repeatedly had to tell the witness to speak up and to answer the questions.
Mr. Lindsay tore repeated holes in Mr. Bennett’s testimony. On May 23, after police “rescued him,” he told them that he had never stolen from the Lucky Moose.
“Another lie under oath?” Mr. Lindsay asked.
“Yes,” said Mr. Bennett.
“You said that you were buying flowers for your common-law wife for Mother’s Day.”
“It was a stupid alibi,” Mr. Bennett said.
“So stupid that you said it two weeks after Mother’s Day.”
Then Mr. Lindsay asked, “Would you agree with me that you are still an unreliable witness now?”
“Yes I am,” Mr. Bennett replied.
“Do you have a bad memory?” Mr. Lindsay asked.
“Extremely,” the witness replied.
Mr. Lindsay also established some justification for the grocers’ actions when he asked the witness, “Often when confronted by honest shopkeepers, you yell at them, threaten them, give them the finger. Fair?”
“Fair,” Mr. Bennett answered. Mr. Bennett also told police at the time that Mr. Chen had bent his index finger back and almost broken it. Wednesday he changed his story, saying it had been his thumb.
I've heard of stupid criminals but this takes the cake. It's one thing when the Crown deprives Canadian citizens of their right to protect themselves and their property; it's quite another when they use an idiot like this to do it
This story reports that the trial of storekeeper David Chen on charges of assault and forcible confinement was adjourned because there was no Mandarin interpreter for the grocer. I would like to know how long Mr. Chen been a resident of Canada. If he can haggle with food wholesalers, why can't he express himself in English in court? And finally, why should we pay interpreter fees for the accused who make no effort to learn the language of their new country?
As much as I support Mr. Chen, the letter-writer makes a very good point. ESL teachers did not slave away hours of frustrating pronunciation classes for nothing. Just saying.
The real victims here- well- let one decide for one's self:
A Conservative private member’s bill proposes the salaries and expenses paid to First Nations chiefs and councillors should be publicly disclosed like those of all other elected representatives in Canada.
Saskatoon MP Kelly Block said if passed, her bill, introduced Friday, would result in greater “accountability and transparency” by making public all forms of remuneration paid to First Nations chiefs and councillors through federal government funds.
“This has been a long-standing issue for First Nations community members looking to have access of this kind of information,” Ms. Block said in an interview.
“As a member of Parliament, certainly my expenses, my salary are public knowledge. Individuals don’t have to come to me personally and ask me for it,” added Ms. Block, who does not represent any First Nations communities in her riding but said she came up with the idea for the bill by speaking with fellow MPs.
The First Nations chiefs and councillors would be responsible for making their salaries and expenses public, either through an annual report or annual meeting, she said. The statements would be audited and published on the Indian Affairs website.
The Assembly of First Nations, the national organization representing some 630 First Nations communities across Canada, called the bill “ill-conceived.”
It “appears to be part of a troubling series of insinuations about First Nations peoples, based on misinformation and a lack of understanding as to what the real accountability issues are,” National Chief Shawn Atleo said in a statement.
Mr. Atleo said First Nations already file up to 60,000 reports a year, and the main issue is that it is the Indian Affairs Department and the federal government “cannot account for their own spending and cannot track which programs are producing useful results.
“Accountability problems lie largely with the federal government.”
As it stands, community members who wish to know how much their representatives are paid must approach the chief and councillor directly, who are not compelled to disclose their salaries.
The audacity to hold out one's hand then deny the living ATMs accountability.
Where are the residents of these wooded ghettos? Why are they not protesting in the streets over this?
When an Ontario Superior Court judge struck down several key provisions of Canada’s laws surrounding prostitution last month – ruling them unconstitutional – she made the point that she was ruling in the interest of the safety of women.
The federal government has announced it will appeal that ruling. And we can expect plenty of religiously motivated voices to support the appeal. The purpose of the Christian gospel has always been to set captives free; and that’s why Christianity has – and will continue to – weigh in on the prostitution debate. It is part of the mandate of believers in Christ to speak out for the oppressed. It is an activism that stems not from moral one-upmanship, but from a belief in the beautiful possibility of redemption.
If Judge Susan Himel’s ruling should ultimately stand, Canada will have failed countless girls and women who eke out a living as prostitutes by effectively legalizing their exploitation.
The three applicants who led the recent court case would have us believe otherwise. Counting on a media hungry for titillation, they were only too happy to deliver plenty of the nudge-nudge, wink-wink kind of content that would guarantee them a place in the headlines and in the lineup of the evening news.
When asked how she would celebrate the ruling for instance, dominatrix Terri Jean Bedford laughed and smacked her riding crop against her leather-gloved-hand. “I’m going to spank some ass,” she declared to a room filled with reporters who erupted in laughter.
Bedford claims to be a sex-worker by choice, but she is, by her own testimony, a victim, many times over. As University of British Columbia law professor Benjamin Perrin has noted: “Her affidavit tells a story of a childhood filled with physical, psychological and sexual abuse. At 16, while in provincial child protection, she met ‘an abusive 37-year-old drug dealer and drug addict’ and began being sold for sex to fund both of their drug addictions.”
Bedford does acknowledge the sad truth that her experience of entry into the sex trade is not unique. “There are the vulnerable that are of course kidnapped and forced into this trade,” she conceded in an interview with Listen Up last year. But she expressed little sympathy for their plight. “You stay a prostitute because you want to. Not because you have to.”
How much did Bedford herself “want” the career she claims to have chosen? “I kept losing legitimate jobs after I was raided because my face would be in the paper the next day and the business didn’t want to draw attention to itself” she told our camera. “I could never sit at the front desk in the reception area ever again, in any corporate office.
“So I’m here. I’ve chosen this path and I have to stick to it. There’s no turning back.”
She feels further victimized by the justice system that’s made it difficult for her to stick to her “chosen” path. “You can’t imagine how happy I am today,” she said following news of the Sept. 28 ruling. “I’ve been abused by the justice system for a very, very, very long time.”
But what if there was a different option for the Terri Jean’s of our nation?
Former prostitute Trisha Baptie believes there is. Recruited into the world of selling sex when she was not yet 14, she worked as a prostitute for 15 years. Her path to redemption began when a student from a local Christian university offered her a cup of hot chocolate on a cold night, eventually arranging for another group of Christians to pay Trisha’s bills for a time, making it possible for her to leave the streets.
Today, Baptie is executive director of Honour Consulting & Ministries and a founding member of EVE: Exploited Voices Educating. She advocates criminalizing the buying of sex, thus penalizing the buyers, and reducing the demand for sexual services.
“As a former prostitute [I know] society hates us,” she says. “We know we’re disposable. We know we mean nothing.”
Decriminalizing prostitution would prove that tragic belief true. Not only would it tolerate sex for sale, normalizing the harms that go with it to the women, children and men trapped in the trade, it would reinforce the idea that human beings can be counted in dollars and cents, when in God’s eyes we are priceless.
If we are unwilling to address the real issues behind prostitution (let us not pretend it is ALL about free will and excitement), then forget about it altogether.
When a B.C. couple discovered that the fetus their surrogate mother was carrying was likely to be born with Down syndrome, they wanted an abortion. The surrogate, however, was determined to take the pregnancy to term, sparking a disagreement that has raised thorny questions about the increasingly common arrangements.
Under the agreement the trio signed, the surrogate’s choice would mean absolving the couple of any responsibility for raising the child, the treating doctor told a recent fertility-medicine conference.
Dr. Ken Seethram, revealing the unusual situation for the first time, said it raises questions about whether government oversight of contracts between mothers and “commissioning” parents is needed.
A bioethicist who has studied the issue extensively argues that contract law should not apply to the transaction, unless human life is to be treated like widgets in a factory.
“Should the rules of commerce apply to the creation of children? No, because children get hurt,” said Juliet Guichon of the University of Calgary. “It’s kind of like stopping the production line: ‘Oh, oh, there’s a flaw.’ It makes sense in a production scenario, but in reproduction it’s a lot more problematic.”
Prof. Guichon speculated that courts likely would not honour a surrogacy contract, drawing instead on family law that would require the biological parents to support the child.
It appears no surrogacy contract has actually been contested in a Canadian court, however, leaving the transactions in some legal limbo.
Dr. Seethram’s presentation to the Canadian Society of Fertility and Andrology conference suggested the accord signed by the three in B.C. may have undermined the surrogate’s right to make decisions in a “non-coercive” environment.
The surrogate, a mother of two children of her own, eventually chose to have the abortion, partly because of her own family obligations.
A former surrogate who helps parents and mothers make such arrangements said the parties should agree on what they would do if defects are discovered during pregnancy, ensuring they have the same views on abortion. If a dispute still arises, however, parents ought to be protected, said Sally Rhoads of SurrogacyInCanada.ca.
“The baby that’s being carried is their baby. It’s usually their genetic offspring,” she said. “Why should the intended parents be forced to raise a child they didn’t want? It’s not fair.”
In some U.S. jurisdictions, in fact, parents can even sue a surrogate to recoup their payments if the woman insists on going ahead with a pregnancy against their wishes, Ms. Rhoads said.
Disputes are rare here, but she said it is usually surrogates who end up feeling most aggrieved. She recalled one case where the mother conceived twins, the parents asked for a procedure to reduce the number of fetuses to one, and the whole pregnancy was inadvertently lost.
In three other Canadian cases, surrogates are now raising the babies after the commissioning couples got divorced and backed out, Ms. Rhoads said.
We've succeeded in commercialising the human person and human functions. We would be pathetic as a keystone species if we had nothing else to offer. I'm disgusted but not really surprised. It's droll in a terrible way. We're keen on killing a child because he is a "knock-off" baby as opposed to a "designer" baby yet the body is not the actual mother's but a woman who has prostituted herself. What a selfish lot of terrible people. The only one I feel sorry for was the one who was not up to scratch for these mongrels.
Two Christian men on trial for eating during daylight in the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan were acquitted yesterday, a verdict supporters said was a triumph for religious freedom. The men, members of Algeria's small Protestant community, were charged with offending public morals for eating at the building site where they were working before the Ramadan fast had been broken for the day. After the judge in Ain El-Hammam, about 150 kilometres east of Algiers, ruled they were innocent, a group of Protestants standing on the steps of the courthouse shouted "Hallelujah!" Algeria is mainly Muslim with a small Christian minority.
Failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday, with no chance of parole. He had previously admitted to 10 terrorism-related charges, saying he would "plead guilty 100 times over." Yesterday, he told a court in New York, "If I'm given 1,000 lives, I will sacrifice all of them for the life of Allah."
As a lot of the media remarked, the failed bomber-Faisal Shahzad, pictured, was most definitely smirking and defiant. "A defiant Faisal Shahzad smirked..." said the Associated Press. "Remaining defiant, and smirking..." said The New York Times. Even Reuters began, with "A smirking Pakistani-born U.S. citizen..." before adding how defiant he was.
Unless it's guilt for having had a plan fail. I hope he likes prison.
After watching the arrest of the peaceful pro-life Carleton students on YouTube, it is truly scandalous to see a Canadian university muzzling free speech in a manner that is usually found in dictatorships.
Regardless of one's views on abortion, a publicly funded university campus should be a place for open and free exchange of ideas, even if graphic, anti-abortion images are part of that message.
As a National Post editor's note stated after the January earthquake in Haiti, disturbing pictures are "a necessary -- indeed, a central -- part of telling a story completely ... and understanding that horror is necessary ... in order to galvanize as swift and powerful a response as possible."
Carleton University should promptly apologize to these students for infringing on their Charter-protected right of freedom of speech and correct itself by allowing them to put up their display.
What a joke. I do hope greedy student unions are prepared to refund all the student body. If you can allow base Jew-hating, you can allow anything, even exposing the truth about tax-payer funded genocide.