A life-long friend of mine related the following vignette of justice according to the book of stupidity. Its a case of too much time wasted to make too many bylaws that are just too stupid to enforce, in other words - bureaucracy at its worst. I know what you’re thinking, but no, ironically this does not take place in Kanata.

This brush with justice gone amok took place eight or so years ago, shortly after my friend moved to the Ottawa “Burbs.” Ward Patrick (not his real name) was walking his dog in a local park around dinner time on a warm, summer evening when he was suddenly accosted by a “Special Police Constable (SPC)” who seemingly had been skulking through the bushes in search of Bylaw Bandits. Evidently “Special Police Constables” are civilians hired to enforce local bylaws, thus relieving the real Police Officers of this mundane task so they can concentrate on important matters such as extended coffee breaks!

SPC Barney Fife (not his real name, but nevertheless very appropriate) demanded in his best (but not very convincing) Clint Eastwood impression, “Is this your dog?”

As the dog was on a leash, and my buddy was holding the end of said leash, the ownership would seem obvious. Considering the noxious manner in which the question was posed, Ward was tempted to reply negatively and explain that the dog had rushed up and forcibly thrust the end of the leash into his hand. Instead, he replied, “Yes. What’s the problem?”

The ersatz police wannabe, quivering with anticipation at this opportunity to demonstrate his quasi-authority, rhymed off to the letter the bylaw that prohibits the walking of dogs in a public park. Ward asked why the park wasn’t posted accordingly, and SPC Fife indignantly asserted that it was. Ward invited SPC Fife to view the place where he had entered the park to see for himself that there was no sign banning dog- walking. The constable resolutely maintained that ALL entrances WERE appropriately signed and refused to look. In hind sight, Ward suspects that the twit knew there was no sign at that particular location, but was bound and determined to issue a summons just to prove his authority and fuel his ego! Hence, no look, sign assumed, summons issued, ego satisfied.

If SPC Fife had known what he was getting into, I sincerely doubt he would have been so hell-bent to charge my buddy. I can guarantee that Ward is definitely no pushover, and in fact delights in challenging officialdom when appropriate and warranted!

By this time civil conversation had graduated into a toe-to-toe shouting match so vociferous that it had attracted the attention of both players and fans on an adjacent softball diamond. As Ward was in a hurry, he finally decided that further dispute with Mayberry’s finest was futile, so stated, “OK, enough already. Just give me the ticket!”

The constable, with obvious glee, proceeded to fill in all the blank spaces on the form. After obtaining name, address, and telephone number, he demanded, “Date of birth?”

Ward immediately bristled at this unwarranted invasion of privacy and demanded, “Why?”

Well this set SPC Fife off in spectacular fashion! He indicated in the most authoritarian voice he could muster (mostly a squeaky falsetto) that Ward had to provide his age, as there was a blank space for it on the summons! Ward’s response was to question the logic of requiring one’s age to issue a summons especially for this type of offence, and that just because there was a space on the form didn’t mean it had to be completed. SPC Fife went ballistic at this point, and threatened to take Ward in for obstructing an officer. Ward, on comparing the term “officer” with the ridiculous figure now confronting him, replied, “Fill your boots!”

SPC Fife grabbed his radio and broadcast “Officer needs assistance!” As you might expect, this generated an immediate response from the real police, who no doubt envisaged a wounded officer, back to the wall, facing a gang of psychopathic killers! Within minutes a squad car came screeching to a halt, lights flashing, siren howling. The ball game also came to a halt, and a crowd gathered to witness apprehension of this seedy-looking character who had probably committed some heinous crime. Ward immediately envisaged both he and the dog being handcuffed, read their rights, dragged to the squad car, and thrust forcibly into the back seat!

Actually, when the cop in the squad car heard the reason why he had been so rudely extracted from the coffee shop, he could only muster a look of both frustration and embarrassment. Nevertheless, he advised Ward that it was absolutely necessary to provide his date of birth.

Ward again asked, “Why?” The police officer was stuck for an answer. Ward explained that he had provided SPC Fife with all the relevant information concerning name, address, etc., but felt there was absolutely no requirement to provide date of birth for a local bylaw offence. The cop replied, “OK, since you won’t give your age, I’ll just do a computer search and get your age that way.” He then proceeded to contact the dispatcher, requesting the age of the suspect Ward Patrick, of such and such an address, etc.

After several minutes, the dispatcher advised, “Negative on that search.”

“Well then, where do we go from here?” Ward asked as it was now getting to the point where he would be late for his appointment. The cop, completely frustrated, ordered SPC Fife to give Ward the summons without the date of birth being filled in. After mumbling a few not-so-niceties to SPC Fife, the cop jumped into his squad car, and sped off.

SPC Fife, in a somewhat chastened manner, completed the summons, handed it to Ward, and then asked him to sign it. Ward of course asked, “Why?” SPC Fife almost exploded, and hinted he would arrest Ward if he didn’t sign.

Ward had now reached the boiling point. This twit had cost him over two hours of his time, and the summons was obviously going to lighten his wallet. He looked the quasi-cop in the eyes and in a very serious voice said, “I don’t believe this! You give someone a uniform and a badge, and they go on a power trip! By all means call back the squad car, and we’ll see what the real police have to say about this!”

It didn’t take SPC Fife very long to reach a decision. Without saying a word, he handed Ward the unsigned summons, turned on his heels, and disappeared.


- The summons cost Ward $25.
- A sign was later erected at the location where Ward had entered the park.
- It is not known whether the date of birth, and signing issues were ever addressed by the municipality.
- SPC Fife has never been seen again.
- The dog has never been seen again.
- Ward now raises tropical fish.

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