Peter MacKay should be accountable to the same standards that apply to anyone else. In this case, the Criminal Code of Canada is quite clear.
429. (1) Every one who causes the occurrence of an event by doing an act or by omitting to do an act that it is his duty to do, knowing that the act or omission will probably cause the occurrence of the event and being reckless whether the event occurs or not, shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Part, wilfully to have caused the occurrence of the event.
Search and rescue resources are operated by the Government of Canada for the protection of all Canadians. It is Mr. MacKay's duty to ensure these resources are used in accordance with the purpose for which they are maintained. The Constitution of Canada codifies this duty. Resources such as this actively support rights we are entitled to:
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.
By using a search and rescue helicopter for the sole purpose of convenience, Mr. MacKay has committed criminal mischief as outlined in the Criminal Code:
430. (1) Every one commits mischief who wilfully
(b) renders property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective;
(c) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property; or
(d) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property.
There are any number of ways in which Mr. MacKay's actions contravene the Criminal Code.
430.(1)(b) was breached since the helicopter could not respond to an emergency completely fuelled or from its base where it could be equipped with required equipment needed for a specific situation.
430.(1)(c) was breached by his use of the helicopter.
430.(1)(d) was breached by causing interference of the crew operating the helicopter.
The aggravated nature of this very specific sort of criminal behaviour is acknowledged with specific mention in the Criminal Code:
430.(2) Every one who commits mischief that causes actual danger to life is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life.
Finally, having authority over property is absolutely no excuse for these sorts of actions, according to the Criminal Code:
430.(3) Where it is an offence to destroy or to damage anything,
(a) the fact that a person has a partial interest in what is destroyed or damaged does not prevent him from being guilty of the offence if he caused the destruction or damage; and
(b) the fact that a person has a total interest in what is destroyed or damaged does not prevent him from being guilty of the offence if he caused the destruction or damage with intent to defraud.
There is strong evidence that Mr. MacKay was fully cognisant of the nature of his actions. According to emails obtained by Allan Woods at the Toronto Star, he was warned by the Air Force. His guilt was confirmed by his fabrication of a cover story, after the fact, in which he stated he was on board the helicopter to observe training exercises. By misrepresenting the nature of his use of this resource, he defrauded the people of Canada.
Mr. MacKay should face the same force of the law which applies to all Canadians and defend his actions in criminal court, not the court of public opinion.
Update: Friday 2 December 2011
I have made the Gander, NL detachment of the RCMP aware of this case. In order to respect the criminal proceeding which may follow, I will not be posting any updates which mention the specifics of this case. Feel free to post comments about this article, however, I may hold them until after the legal process concludes.
Update: Monday 5 December 2011
On Mr. MacKay's behalf, the military undertook an operation in which denial was discussed and agreed upon. If the mission had any sinister objectives, it would be a covert operation. If Mr. MacKay can arrange this deniable operation, what else could he do? I have written a post about legal aspects of control of the military.
Also, I would like to thank Allan Woods, at the Toronto Star, for taking time to engage me in an email discussion. He pointed out, the emails I referred to in his article did make mention of allowing MacKay's helicopter use on the condition that the use not effect SAR services. However, in light of the fact that this operation was arranged with deniablity in mind, would the denial lead to altering procedures to guarantee safety? Also, considering the time frame in which this operation was arranged, was there even enough time to put safety practises in action?
Update: Thursday 22 March 2012
This past winter, a tragedy occurred in which a Labrador boy died, lost in a blizzard. In this episode of the Fifth Estate on CBC, it appears the Canadian Forces misrepresented its ability to perform its search and rescue duties. I have to wonder what's going on when Peter MacKay, the Minister of Defence can order a convenient ride on a search and rescue helicopter, yet one was not available for its primary purpose, saving lives.