Religious defence drives authorities mad
Ed Belanger, a Minister of the Church of the Reformed Druids, is a man with a mission ? a mission to use and distribute cannabis as a sacrament, and to educate people of their rights. In the course of his mission, he has seen a judge retire and an RCMP officer resign in protest over his unusual methods of using the law against itself. When hassled by police or court officials, the 48-year-old minister is quick to quote law section-by-section, driving his opponents crazy with esoteric references and eclectic tactics.
When Belanger was stopped by a police officer in St Albert, Alberta on October 1, while on his way to a cannabis ceremony, he refused to leave his vehicle.
"I told the officer, under Section 39 of the Criminal Code, that I was maintaining possession of my vehicle and that I had the right to do so even against a person with force of law," said a dignified Belanger. "I asked him if, at that time, there had been a breach of the peace, to which he had no answer."
Under Section 39 of the Criminal Code, explained Belanger, a cop can't take your possessions away from you, unless there has been some breach of the peace. "You can use whatever force necessary to keep it. That's what it says in the Criminal Code, and I'm not stretching it."
According to Belanger, the officer continued to question him, but Belanger kept his window only partly down. "I said, 'well I am a Minister of the Church of Reformed Druids, and marijuana is our holy sacrament.' And I said, 'unless you want to commit religious discrimination, you ? under Section 176 of the Criminal Code ? are commanded herewith to let me proceed because you have no jurisdiction over me as a Minister of God!'"
Under Section 176, it is illegal to stop members of the clergy on civil violations when they are in the course of their religious duties. Civil violations include, said Belanger, "not having your license, not having insurance, not having registration, and also marijuana."
Belanger recounted how the infuriated RCMP officer, stunned by the minister's tireless legal prowess, began beating on the window of his car. Belanger responded by driving away, inviting the officer to follow him to private property to discuss the matter further. By the time Belanger had the car parked at a nearby friend's property, there were three squad cars, guns waving, and police screaming at him to both get on the ground and give them the car keys.
Police found 30 grams of sacramental cannabis in the vehicle. Later, at the station, Belanger refused to blow into the cops' blood-alcohol testing device.
During the following court case for "failure to blow" charges, Belanger quoted Section 32 of the Canadian Constitution Act, which, he says, quite clearly states that Canadian laws apply only to members of the government, which didn't include Belanger.
Belanger then argued that his name, appearing in all capitals and reversed with last name first, was a legal fiction and had the court change his name to upper and lower case, first name first, last name last, as described by a document called The Canadian Style which governs the appearance of names on all legal papers. Finally, he asked the judge if he recognized the preamble of the Canadian Constitution, which affirms the "supremacy of God."
"The judge refused to do so, got quite exasperated, and started screaming and yelling at me," said Belanger. "And I said, 'is it the purpose of this court to abuse me?' The judge said very little after that. Eventually, he railroaded over me and found me guilty.
"The whole time I said 'you have no jurisdiction in this case, and you're proceeding in treason. Without recognizing the supremacy of God, you violate the Canadian constitution, you discard it, and you operate on your own private law forum, which is treason.' He fined me $380 and told me that if I didn't pay I would have to go to jail for a month."
Ed Belanger refused to pay. The Minister recalled how, as he left the courtroom, the court clerk tried to make him sign a legal document called a recognizance, binding him to the judgment. "I said I would sign it if she would produce the statute, law or regulation that compelled me to enter into a contract with her. She couldn't. She intimidated me by saying that if I didn't sign there would be an arrest warrant put out for me. And I said, 'please produce the statute, law or regulation that says that.' Of course, she couldn't."
Three months later, when the fine was due, Belanger returned to the court room and discovered that the judge for his case had retired immediately afterward. Additionally, the court clerk no longer wanted to arrest him, telling Belanger that if he wanted to be arrested he would have to go before a JP and demand it.
The marijuana charges against Belanger were later stayed after he wrote a letter to the crown prosecutor and the federal Minister of Health, Alan Rock. In his letters he detailed how, during his upcoming case, he planned to ask the judge whether he recognized the "supremacy of God," and if so, the minister would enter into evidence Genesis 1:29. "Where it says," quoted Belanger, "I give you every herb bearing seed and tree with a fruit bearing seed within it and for you it will be meat."
"They have to say yes, or they call God a liar, and challenge the whole system of Christianity," affirmed Belanger. "Then I was going to ask the court, 'where do you get the authority to take away God's gifts?' Within 24 hours of receiving my letter, they stayed the charges against me."
Ancient common law
It wasn't the last time Belanger would be involved in controversy with the police and authorities. In March of 2000, he refused to pay property taxes because some of his tax money was going to schools that allowed junk food machines. Harmful junk foods, said Belanger, contravene the Schools Act, which clearly states that schools should protect the welfare of children. When the city threatened to seize his home for unpaid taxes, Belanger wrote a letter to the Lieutenant Governor, saying that the minister was prepared to defend his home even if he had to "martyr himself to the death."
Shortly afterward, the RCMP arrested him on a complaint from the Lieutenant Governor's office, and searched his house with a warrant for guns. While in his home, says Belanger, they threatened his wife that if they found cannabis, they would arrest her and seize their children. When the case finally came to court, Belanger was found innocent, and the RCMP were reprimanded for searching the house. The RCMP officer in charge of the raid walked out of the court room, said Belanger, and resigned.
"It's an ancient message that I am teaching," Belanger told Cannabis Culture. "All things that people do aside from hurting other people or their property is acceptable. That gives you the liberty to do whatever you wish without hurting others. That's ancient common law."
? Ed Belanger: (780) 967-3915; firstname.lastname@example.org
? See an interview with Ed Belanger on Pot-TV: www.pot-tv.net/archive/shows/pottvshowse-525.html