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January 30, 2006


larry Smith

What house was it? And which gramma? And who did it? And what happened?


I think there is an underlying question you haven't asked. Why are these laws being flaunted so shamelessly? I would cringe in horror if told I had to wade through the bureaucracy required to demolish a building. Depending on the fine, it is probably more economical (and certainly faster) to pay it than to get the appropriate permits. Assuming you are caught, of course.

larry Smith

I agree. But I am curious about the other matters.


In answer to Larry:

The blue and white house on East Bay Street right across the road from Ministry of Agriculture/east of Alliance Francaise. 140 years old, and in the process of being restored. It was in bad shape cosmetically, but was structurally sound, having been made of ship's wood salvaged from the 1866 hurricane.

It was taken down by accident by a contractor who was carrying out a job assigned to him. The accident was a multiple accident. He was supposed to take the westernmost house down secretly, as later happened, on a Sunday. He took it down on a Friday morning, and I happened to see it happen.

In answer to kyle:

While I'm no fan of bureaucracy, in this particular case there is a reason for it. I don't really care how much cheaper it is to pay the fine; a piece of my personal history and of the country's patrimony was destroyed because somebody didn't follow procedure.

My problem isn't that people do it so much; my problem is that we keep silent about it and don't bother with catching offenders and making examples. Perhaps if we did, a) the process would become more streamlined and b) we would become a more responsible society.

I don't know yet who gave the order for the house to be taken down. I have dealt so far with a middle man, who is not an owner of anything. My family has never been contacted about the "accident" -- and it's been almost a year now. It may not have cost the people responsible anything, but my family out some serious money. The house can't be replaced; that wood is not gettable anymore. And we have received no compensation or apology whatsoever.

You'll forgive me if I can't agree with quibbles about permits.

Christopher Lowe

I agree with you 100%. Remember bicycle licences? When did you last see one? Erosion of the law starts with the little things and moves up the line, each level accepted giving free licence for the next. It is finished when people kill each other over petty wrongs. Are we there yet?

larry smith

well, can I do a piece on that? It sounds like a good trail. Who was responsible?

drew Roberts

I am of the opinion that we either need to enforce the laws or take them off of the books.

Leaving them on and not enforcing them CONSISTENTLY leads to a general disrespect of law. This is not good for society.

Enforcing them inconsistently is more akin to victimisation / persecution than law.

The list of laws that are broken openly on a daily basis is so long I think we wouldn't know where to begin.

all the best,


(+1)/10 to email me

Christopher Lowe

Maybe we should compile a list of crimes observed being broken on a daily basis, from the smallest to the largest. Then publish. You better warn the paper cause you'll need a couple pages.


Drew, I agree with you. That's partly my point. At the very least we need to know what laws are on the books and discuss them, figure out if they are valid, if the penalties are fair, and so on. Or we can make adhering to them easier -- like the laws relating to demolition, etc.

Chris, it's always good to hear from you. Maybe we should start now.

Running red lights.

Christopher Lowe

Parking in handicapped space.
willfully bouncing checks.
motorbiking without helmet.
parking in no parking area
driving without seatbelt
unlicenced/uninsured/uninspected vehicles
noise ordinance violation
foul language in public
urinating in public
Liquor without licence
begging(without licence)

drew Roberts

Itend to be too radical in my thinking when it comes to things like this:

1. All laws should have an expiration date. (Say 10 years to begin the discussion.)

2. It is time for ignorance of the law to be an excuse.

3. The government must provide a department to answer a citizens questions as to whether something he wants to do is legal. If they tell him yes, they cannot fine him or jail hime, etc. for doing it and if they later find they were wrong and make him stop, they must refund him any monies spent as a result of their advice which will be wasted by having to stop.

4. We need to establish a "minor" prison system with a completely different set of "employees" and no one can ever work at the "minor" system who has ever worked at the big system. By "minor" I don't mean for non-adults, I mean for minor offences. (ask me why if you can't figure this one out.)

5. Penalties for breaking laws need to be at least doubled for government workers. (They need to set the example.)

6. If the government wants to get serious about enforcing any heretofore non-consistentlyt enforced law, they need to properly warn the public in advance before beginning and once they begin, they need to be consistent from then on.

I gotta stop. I have put down too much for one bite already.

all the best,


(+1)/10 to email me


So I disagree with you on 1, 2 and 3, Drew, because the vast majority of the laws are pretty sensible and non-arguable, like those against violent crimes and so on, and because we already have a society that works in cycles that are too short for any real building up of anything positive to take place. On the other hand, if their expiration dates are set so they are reviewed say every two generations, then maybe there's some value in the idea. A fifty year expiry date doesn't sound so bad.

4, 5 and 6 have some merit, though I wonder why government workers only should be held to a higher standard, and not (say) lawyers, priests and politicians -- indeed, all upholders of moral fibre in the country (teachers, parents, and so on). Oh, wait, that seems only to leave businessmen.

I agree wholeheartedly that we need at least a two-tiered penal system, though I'd need to get clarification on what "minor" crimes consist of.

And I totally agree with (6).

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