The Brad Love Case
Open Letter to All Ontario MPPs
Abuse of Process Keeps Non-Violent Letter Writer in Ontario Jail
I'd like to introduce you to Brad Love. He's a prolific letter writer, non-violent, non-threatening letters, I must add, and he's now in jail for the second time for writing letters to elected officials.
That's here in Ontario, not Cuba or North Korea. I'm writing to urge you to investigate a real abuse of process and suppression of free speech here in Ontario.
Mr. Love is a 44-year-old Etobicoke construction worker and bricklayer. Over his morning Tim Horton's coffee, he reads the newspapers. Often, he'll react to the news of the day and fire off a few short pithy letters to the editor, to MPs, to MPPs, to municipal officials.
This inveterate letter writer reckons that, over the past 15 years or so, he's written over 10,000 letters. He has a few pet peeves and the massive immigration that is changing the face of his native Toronto is one of them. Brad Love is outspoken and he doesn't like what he sees. However, it must be emphasized that his letters do not threaten; he merely expresses his opinion.
Until very recently, such letter writing would have been considered the mark of a responsible citizen. In a parliamentary democracy, a citizens is supposed to take an interest in public affairs, make his views known and, if he has a concern or grievance, bring his views to the attention of the responsible authorities. Over nearly two decades, Brad Love has done just that.
However, instead of being given a good citizen award, Brad Love now languishes for the second time in an Ontario prison, for nothing more than writing letters to elected officials and policy makers, the latest time perhaps even letters to you, as an Ontario MPP!
In the Spring of 2003, while working on a school construction site in Cambridge, Mr. Love was arrested at gunpoint by police. He was charged by at least four police forces - York Region, Metro Toronto, Peel Region and the OPP -for writing letters, mostly to MPs, the Chief of Police of York Region and other elected officials about immigration. He was denied bail, and, after four months in jail, very ill advisedly (in his current lawyer's opinion), he consented to a plea bargain. He pleaded guilty, under Sec. 319 of the Criminal Code ("hate propaganda ") for writing over 30 letters to public officials.
In the stiffest sentence ever handed down under Sec. 319, he received 18 months in prison.
In an example of the ongoing police overkill in his case, his Mississauga basement apartment was raided by the York Region police complete with their special mobile command post several weeks after he had been arrested and jailed. The cul de sac on which he lived was blocked off by the police in a massive show of intimidating Rambo-like force. His apartment was trashed and all his worldly goods left in a big heap in the living room for his parents to pick up. Nearly two years late, after the case has been heard and Mr. Love has served his time, he has still not received his seized goods, including a typewriter, back from the police.
Mr. Love got out of prison in March, 2004. He immediately got a job and an apartment. As required by his parole conditions, he has regularly reported to his parole officer and has not communicated with a list of politicians and others who were the recipients of his earlier letters.
However, Mr. Love has continued to enjoy his morning coffee and has written many letters to public officials, including to many Ontario MPPs, about his favourite topic - immigration. Typical of the letters complained of was a July 27 letter by Mr. Love to Ontario NDP MPP Rosario Marchese. The mailing consisted of a newspaper clipping "Cecilia Case Cracked" referring to the arrest of a suspect, a male from Red China in Canada on a student visa.
Love allegedly wrote: "Thank you Immigration Canada and the wonderful lady Judy Sgro. Seriously, why do our cops even bother?" Now, this is an opinion. Surely, such comments should not be the stuff of imprisonment and police charges.
Yet, on March 2, he was arrested as he left his probation officer's office. He was charged with 30 counts of breach of probation , writing "hateful or scurrilous" letters, mostly to you, Ontario MPPs.
Mr. Love remains in prison at the Metro East Detention Centre. His initial bail hearing stretched over two and a half days! The normal bail hearing, even for violent crimes, lasts less than half an hour. His lawyer, Peter Lindsay, tried to negotiate a huge $250,000 surety.
At first, the Crown agreed and then reneged, reporting that "their team leader wanted Love to remain in prison." By way on comparison, there are people accused of murder out on $100,000 bail. A man accused of gunning down his teacher wife in Brampton some months ago is also free on bail. Yet, the Crown opposed bail for an entirely non-violent man, Brad Love, accused of writing inappropriate letters!
At his first bail hearing before a Justice of the Peace, representatives of no fewer than four Ontario police forces were present. Veteran observers of the Ontario justice system report that over-worked police frequently miss bail hearings, allowing the accused, often persons accused of very violent crimes, to go free or to receive a very modest bail.
Mr. Love returns to Ontario Superior Court for an appeal of the JP's decision on April 22. He will have been in jail nearly eight weeks, costing the taxpayer doubly: for his keep and for loss of taxes that he might have paid had he remained free and gainfully employed.
I must complain of the injustice of charging and hounding a man for the non-violent expression of his political views. People like Brad Love, outspoken curmudgeons, used to be cherished. Their voices, sometimes crotchety, sometimes shrill, were useful antidotes to complacency. The notion than any elected official would go running to the police to complain about receiving a Brad Love letter is disgusting. It's hard to believe that any elected official would be so wimpy as to complain of a little bit of verbal heat from a citizen.
There seems to be a vendetta by the Ontario justice system against Mr. Love. The huge amount of taxpayers money spent to prosecute him for letter writing in 2003 has now been compounded by more expenses in police time and prison to harass him for further letter writing since.
I have told the earlier part of the Brad Love story to several U.S. academic audiences. In each case, I was questioned: "This story happened in Cuba, right?" I had to tell my American listeners that, no, dissidents and letter writers are being tossed in prison in their northern neighbour too.
I hope you'll agree that such political correct policing must stop and the political censors in the Crown Attorney's office and the Attorney General's office (which had to approve the initial Sec. 319 "hate charges") and some southern Ontario police forces must be reigned in.
I write this in a non-partisan way. Mr. Love's problems began under the former Tory government and continue under the present Liberal one. It is not a matter of party politics but policy. Some police and senior law officers have lost all perspective and all respect for freedom of expression in this province.
Please work to free Brad Love!
CANADIAN ASSOCIATION FOR FREE EXPRESSION