The tale of a Canadian army major and 40lbs of pork continues…….but has taken an uncomfortable twist.
What is a search warrant? We don’t have property rights enshrined in Canada’s Constitution, so that’s not it. A search warrant actually protects the privacy rights of citizens of this country – and that’s where Mark Tijssen’s story takes its nasty turn.
To back up a bit, in November 2009, Mark and a friend bought a live pig, brought it home and butchered it. When the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) was made aware of this, an incredible chain of investigative actions was set in motion that saw Tijssen charged with four counts under the Ontario Food Safety and Quality Act and Regulation 31/05 (Meat). By June of 2010, MNR made Tijssen an offer – plead guilty to all charges, and $100,000 in fines would be reduced to a paltry $1000. What a deal!
The only problem being that Mark Tijssen was, and is, firmly convinced that he had done nothing wrong. Moreover, he was deeply offended by the actions of MNR that had included a full scale armed raid conducted without warrant on a Friday night while he was making pizza for three small children.
Two years and innumerable court appearances later, Mark Tijssen knows more about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the laws of this province than many people. With the assistance of new-found friends and supporters in the Ontario Landowners Association and food choice advocate Michael Schmidt, Tijssen has successfully raised a Notice of Constitutional Question that will shape his trial, finally scheduled to begin on January 9, 2012 in Ottawa’s Elgin Street courthouse.
Unfortunately, there is another issue to be straightened out with MNR that has nothing to do with Tijssen’s innocence or guilt. When Tijssen was presented with a copy of MNR Inspector Graham Ridley’s log book, he was horrified to read observations as to what his children were wearing and their activities. Ridley had recorded these while surreptitiously observing the Tijssen house, yard and garage during a six day “stake out” in a neighbour’s tree house – using night vision binoculars no less. Clearly Mr Ridley’s actions invaded the privacy of Tijssen, his family and friends – which would have been merely distasteful had he obtained a search warrant. Without a warrant, they were illegal. The senior crown attorney for MNR confirmed on November 18, 2011 that no warrant existed. A complaint Tijssen sent by registered mail on the same day has yet to garner a response from either the Minister of Natural Resources or his crown attorney.
Mark Tijssen can be reached for comment at 613-277-8711 (cell), 613-822-4103 (home) or at Carlsbad_Mark@hotmail.com
Michael Schmidt can be reached for comment at 519-369-8137 (cell)
Tom Black, President of the Ontario Landowner’s Association can be reached at 613-831-2642