That we can read Judge Anne MacKenzie’s “Oral Reasons for Sentence” emphasizes this is theatre of the absurd. MacKenzie, rewarded with the title “Associate Chief Justice” shortly after stepping onto the stage, goes through the motions, offering dialogue of standard clichés, wordplay, and nonsense:
- “…a conditional sentence is not necessarily a more lenient sentence…”
- “The stigma of a conditional sentence with house arrest should not be underestimated.”
- “…encountering members of the community may make it even more difficult for the offender to serve his or her sentence in the community than in prison.”
- “The defendants have suffered the stigma of being charged with criminal offences.”
- “The charges have no doubt had a profound effect on their reputations”
MacKenzie asserts the conditional sentences in the Basi/Virk case constitute a significant deprivation of liberty. She then goes on to say,
“For the first 12 months… you shall be subject to house arrest in your residence or its grounds at all hours except…”
The exclusions offer proof MacKenzie is playing a role in delusive theatre. Media played a part too by incomplete reporting. Here is an example of Neal Hall’s work in the Vancouver Sun:
“The accused were immediately sentenced by the trial judge, B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie, to a conditional term of two years less a day, to be served under house arrest.”
The Vancouver Sun article indicates the house arrest to be two years but makes no mention of lax terms. It is hard to believe that a reporter with Hall’s experience would make that omission by accident.
We examine exceptions to the first 12 months of house arrest. MacKenzie states defendants must remain “in your residence or its grounds” except
- for purposes of work or business or work related matters;
- travelling for work related matters;
- activities related to your children or travelling for that purpose;
- community service;
- absence is authorized by the supervisor;
- attending court;
- attending on lawyer’s place of business in Vancouver or Victoria;
- engaging in physical exercise;
- medical appointments or dental involving yourself or your family;
- personal grooming;
- grocery shopping.
For the second 12 months of the order, house arrest applies only from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., with all of the exceptions noted above. Another of the onerous terms is to maintain land line telephones at the residences.
Since this sentence was handed down in October 2010, we can assume that Basi and Virk are now allowed complete freedom of movement for 17 hours of each day. Tough, eh?