Judicial Power

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By the Court

By the Court

Anonymous Judgments at the Supreme Court of Canada
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover
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Bad Judgment - Revised & Updated

Bad Judgment - Revised & Updated

The Myths of First Nations Equality and Judicial Independence in Canada
edition:Paperback
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Bad Medicine - Revised & Updated

Bad Medicine - Revised & Updated

A Judge's Struggle for Justice in a First Nations Community - Revised & Updated
edition:Paperback
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Beverley McLachlin

Beverley McLachlin

The Legacy of a Supreme Court Chief Justice
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
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Blamed and Broken

Blamed and Broken

The Mounties and the Death of Robert Dziekanski
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

Chapter 1 | Why Are The Police Not Here?

At first, no one notices him. He’s dressed in tan pants and a windbreaker that’s nearly white. His clothes are loose-fitting and flap as he walks, as if he were covered with a sheet like a Halloween ghost. He could be a ghost, if not for the luggage cart he’s pushing toward the meeting area of Vancouver International Airport. There aren’t many people here to notice him, anyway. It’s nearly one on a Sunday morning. Flights have all but ceased. The normally crowded greeting hall is now populated by perhaps a dozen tired-looking figures dressed for the city’s mid-October chill. Bleary-eyed, most are patiently focused on the swinging glass doors that automatically open as each newly arrived passenger emerges from the International Reception Lobby, known as the IRL. The IRL is a semi-secure part of the airport, just outside the cavernous high-security hall that houses baggage carousels, Customs, and Immigration. Beyond the one-way glass doors on the public side, there are repeated scenes of welcome: parents hugging children, reunited partners kissing, and friends shaking hands. The touching sentiments are brief in these wee hours and most head quickly toward the exit and home, arm-in-arm or holding hands.

No one is waiting for the invisible man as he approaches the automatic doors with three suitcases piled neatly on his cart. As he crosses the threshold, the doors close behind him. He follows the long walkway marked by a wood and steel railing, which ends in the public greeting hall. He pauses briefly. His head moves from side to side as if he’s scanning for something or someone. Instead of heading for the exit he turns his cart sharply and almost trips as he steers his luggage back toward the glass wall from behind which he had just appeared. A few minutes later, the man hoists his bags from his cart up and over the railing, piling them on the floor by the automatic doors, like a barricade. Once over the railing himself, he begins hitting the glass doors with his hands. He is no longer invisible. People turn and stare.

The banging reverberates to a section of the hall where a young man is stretched out on a row of bench chairs. Paul Pritchard is trying to get some sleep after several seemingly interminable flights from Shenzhen, China. A rootless traveller at twenty-five, Pritchard has been on the road for years, having left his home in Victoria, B.C., at eighteen. Pritchard was teaching English in China when his father called him to say the lung cancer he was battling was terminal, and could Paul come home? Hours earlier he had made it to San Francisco to catch a connecting flight to Vancouver.

Pritchard has never been one to embrace convention or authority — as a teen he had encounters with the police. He used a fake university degree and bogus teaching certificate to land the job in China. Pritchard routinely refuses to stand in line while planes are boarding. As fate would have it, as he sat waiting for the Vancouver flight lineup to shorten, he fell asleep in a chair right beside the gate. He awoke half an hour later. The plane was gone. The only other flight he could get put him in Vancouver long past the deadline to catch the last ferry to Vancouver Island, where his father waited in Victoria.

Pritchard has no money for a hotel room, so he crashes on the benches in the airport terminal with his big blue backpack. In countless ways, Pritchard’s long-standing suspicion of authority and penchant for shortcuts has carved the path that has brought him to this moment. Unable to sleep, Pritchard stands up to get a better look at the spectacle unfolding by the glass doors.

In 2007, cellphones are not nearly as ubiquitous as they are today. Those that have built-in cameras can manage to record only notoriously bad, pixilated images. The first iPhone, which has a slightly better resolution, isn’t on the market in Canada yet. Pritchard is not using his phone to record the scene, however; he is making use of the digital camera he bought for his travels. He instinctively grabs it, but doesn’t turn it on.

As Pritchard looks on, he strikes up a conversation with a traveller from Texas, who is just as curious about why the hell that guy is banging on the glass. They are trading thoughts and speculation, when a man in a suit with his hands in his pockets strides up to the peculiar scene. Lorne Meltzer wants to get through the doors that are now blocked by suitcases and their increasingly irrational owner. Meltzer is a limo driver here to pick up a client coming in on a flight from New York City. Meltzer has an access card that allows him to open the swinging glass doors so he can wait in the IRL for his fare. He approaches just as the wild-eyed man smashes a chair against the glass.

“Hold on!” Meltzer yells, as he reaches inside his coat for his access card. The man clenches his fist as if anticipating Meltzer’s hand will emerge from his jacket gripping a weapon. Meltzer thinks that on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the point at which the man is ready to attack, this guy is at nine. Meltzer swipes his card on the reader. The doors open.

When the man doesn’t budge, Meltzer loses it. “Look you fuckin’ asshole, I need to get through here,” Meltzer yells, just inches from the man’s face, which is now glistening with perspiration. The man’s black hair is matted with sweat. His eyes are glassy. He slowly backs down and starts hauling his bags through the open doors. He begins to build a makeshift barricade on the threshold using his luggage and some stools from a dark and deserted information counter beside the doorway.

Why am I not filming this? Pritchard suddenly thinks. Years of travel have taught him to point a camera at anything that might be worth a look later on.

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