Toronto Star

Dec. 8, 01:54 EDT

The Flaherty twins

Toronto Star

Think of it as the case of Flaherty vs. Flaherty.

One Attorney-General Jim Flaherty has introduced legislation allowing police to seize assets from suspected gangsters before they've been charged.

It happens there's already a federal law on seizing assets.

But Flaherty says it doesn't always do the job because it requires convictions.

Damned inconvenient, isn't it, that we've got a system of justice in which we have to prove people are criminals before we treat them like criminals? Lots of people, of course, prefer the hanging, then the trial. It's just surprising to find an attorney-general among them. His first job is to uphold the constitution.

And the only safeguard against abuse of this law is a judge, presumably one unintimidated by the bill Flaherty supports - to rate judges according to whether they're soft on crime.

The other Jim Flaherty, meanwhile, has introduced legislation with a curious gap - it doesn't allow judges to seize guns from spouses found to be domestic abusers unless they've actually used the guns, or made a threat.

This has been labelled the Charlton Heston clause by Liberal justice critic Michael Bryant because it ``lets wife beaters keep their guns'' until they're used.

And the reason this Flaherty won't let judges take away guns before abusers use them is because of federal law.

``We have a division of powers in this country between the province and the federal government. The federal government has occupied the field with respect to seizure of weapons . . .''

They've done so on asset seizures, too. But never mind.

The question is why one Flaherty is so respectful of the constitution on guns and the other isn't on seizing assets from people who haven't even been charged?

It is a puzzlement. Perhaps somebody should introduce the two of them.

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