Opinions

Throwing a handgrenade at the crotch of the legal system

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There's a thin line between existing within the system and abusing it. Nadia Ciuriak has not only crossed the line, she spat on it too. The Hamilton resident charged neighbour Gary Kotar because his son will not stop playing street hockey on their block.

This begs a question: what kind of a country do we live in where street hockey is a prosecutable offence? It's not like windows were broken, peace was disturbed, or worse yet, Ciuriak suffered an injury. The only real damage were footprints on the grass and a blow to the credibility of Hamilton's municipal institutions. The police were called on several occasions and a lawsuit was filed.

Here's a perfect example of North America's ever-popular motto. Can't fix it? Sue. Sue McDonald's because the coffee is hot, sue because you got drunk and hurt on a ski hill and sue because the neighbour's kid won't stop trampling on your lawn.

What's the cost? To Ciuriak, it's nothing. She charged Kotar under an existing Hamilton bylaw which prevents anyone from playing a sport on a street. To Gary Kotar the cost could be $2,000. To Ryan and friends, the cost could be their memories where glorious breakaway goals will be replaced with something else.

Police officers should not be called half-a-dozen times to stop street hockey games. City councilors should not spend their time trying to amend an age-old bylaw when their efforts could be better used elsewhere.

Who's the bigger victim? Ciuriak, who has to deal with tennis balls on her lawn or the citizens of Hamilton whose police force is charging a 10-year-old's father because his son plays street hockey in front of their home?

This is the problem with the legal system: While codes and statutes apply, common sense does not. Ciuriak's request to charge Kotar should have been laughed at by Hamilton's finest but that can't happen in Canada. The police would have been charged with laughing.

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