‘No foundation in any law’: ‘Sovereign citizen’ questions B.C. traffic stop
A traffic stop in Chilliwack, B.C., earlier this month is garnering attention after it was uploaded online.
The driver can be heard saying in the video that his rights are being violated.
In the video, he calls himself a sovereign citizen, which is a group of people who believe they are immune to the government’s law and order.
The driver had been pulled over by police for driving without insurance and for having licence plates not issued by ICBC.
He can be heard telling the RCMP officer on the scene that he does not consent to his truck being towed before it’s loaded onto a tow truck.
“I don’t consent to this, you are creating a non-consensual security agreement on the side of the road without right,” the driver said.
However, Kyla Lee, a lawyer at Acumen Law in Vancouver, told Global News the idea that someone doesn’t have to follow the rules because they didn’t enter into a contract with the government, ICBC or the police is “absolutely legally wrong.”
“It has no foundation in any law anywhere in Canada,” she said.
Lee said if the case does go to court it still has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and there are legitimate defences to different types of driving offences, but from what she saw in the video, there is no legitimate defence in this case.
“The origins of this is that people are taking phrases that are from very old statutes, very old pieces of legislation that were passed when Canada was first being formed as a country,” Lee added.
“And they’re sort of selecting the parts of those statutes that they like and then misinterpreting them either deliberately or otherwise, to apply to present-day situations. But we have to remember that at the time that Canada was being formed as a country, we didn’t have roads and insurance and automobiles everywhere. The law evolves and the law in Canada is considered to be a living tree, that it’s always evolving to change the circumstances and to adapt to the circumstances.”
In the video, the driver can be heard telling the RCMP officer that he has been driving for a year without a licence after having his truck impounded before.
Lee said that is a very dangerous situation.
“If you’re uninsured and you’re involved in a collision, then you are responsible, out of pocket for the costs of that collision,” she said. “And the problem that arises is that many of these people don’t have the financial resources to pay for the consequences of their actions. They end up facing a lawsuit or they end up facing litigation.”
Cpl. Michael Moore, the media relations officer for BC Highway Patrol, told Global News that driving is not a right, it’s a privilege.
“If you don’t abide by the rules set forth in the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act and or Criminal Code of Canada, then you could lose those privileges,” he said. “Those privileges could be taken away. So everybody is equally responsible to follow the laws set forth in those acts.”
Moore added that those laws exist for a reason and it’s to keep everyone safe, including police officers.
“If somebody were to drive dangerously, we would attempt to do a traffic stop with that person,” he said.
“And obviously, as police officers, we don’t like to engage in dangerous driving behaviour ourselves.”
He said the officer would then have to make a decision on the situation but the bottom line is that these kinds of dangerous situations put the public, the police and the driver at risk.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center in the U.S., the sovereign citizen movement continued to see growth in 2022 and it was during the COVID-19 pandemic that more conspiracies and grievances about public health measures were brought to light.
“There has been a significant increase in this type of rhetoric ever since the pandemic began, and a large part of it was because people became very distrustful of government and these sort of conspiracy theories and these false notions about the laws spread very rapidly online,” Lee said.
“People had a lot more time to be online, and the ideas were appealing to them in their opposition to things like COVID restrictions and vaccination policies.”
Lee said there are more cases involving these theories in the court system but the courts are not very receptive to those arguments.
“My advice to anybody who is interested in this type of rhetoric is to contact a lawyer and get legal advice about whether this is accurate,” she added.
“Don’t believe things that you read on the internet about what the law says. Speak with a legal professional and ensure that you understand the law so that you can act in compliance with it.”
by Global News