Recently, I received a ticket in Hamilton for a lack of social distancing… which is to say, I got within two metres of a person I was interviewing. That apparently makes me the modern day version of Typhoid Mary when it comes to Hamilton bylaw enforcement. I guess they want me to conduct interviews using semaphore flags. That would maintain that precious six feet of safety, I suppose…
Then again, I should’ve known better when it comes to Hamilton.
My colleague, Efron Monsanto, has received numerous tickets in Steeltown. He’s a serial handshaker, you see, and the authorities in Steeltown don’t care for handshakers.
Now, the funny thing is, when I visited Hamilton to cover a protest at city hall, it was a sad protest indeed. There were fewer than a dozen demonstrators. But unlike Efron, I never encountered any cops or bylaw officers. They were AWOL that day.
Or so I thought.
You see, they were just too cowardly to engage with me. After all, Efron’s videos exposed them to be — what’s the word? — pathetic Karens without a cause.
In any event, just the other day I received an email. It indicated I was being served with a ticket for a whopping $560.
At first, I thought it was a joke. Who ever heard of being served by email? Usually, service is conducted by a peace officer, or at the very least, by courier. And yet, here was this electronic notice of a violation sitting in my inbox, sent by Ranjeni RJ Reddy She/Her.
And it turns out that Ranjeni RJ Reddy She/Her is indeed a City of Hamilton Municipal Law Enforcement Officer/Licensing Compliance Officer.
That’s a mouthful.
Here’s another mouthful: the ticket I received is known as an Administrative Monetary Penalty System ticket. An Administrative Monetary Penalty System is a very fancy phrase to say, in layman’s terms, that you, the citizen, are getting royally screwed by the system.
Indeed, you know that old saying, “Tell it to the judge”? Well, you’re out of luck doing so when it comes to an Administrative Monetary Penalty System ticket. There is no judge. There is no court. Instead, to seek a modicum of justice, I have to go to a Hamilton bylaw officer to get my ticket withdrawn… that’s right, I have to go to the same bylaw enforcement department that issued me that ticket in the first place.
By the way, we decided to play along by their perverse rules. We reached out for dismissal and/or lenience. And — shocker! — we were told no dice. Oh, we can appeal the decision, of course — to the very same jabronis that issued the ticket and declined lenience.
So, how do you think that appeal is going to go, folks?
I know what you’re thinking right now: surely this Administrative Monetary Penalty System thingy is an illegal law, a perverse kind of penalty that would go down in defeat in a constitutional challenge? But no. It was challenged in 2015. And the Supreme Court was perfectly fine with it.
But what happened in Hamilton is inherently problematic for another reason.
What happened to me and Efron was clearly politically motivated. There was no safety issue here, with barely 10 protesters gathering outdoors on the city square. By the way, where was Ranjeni RJ Reddy She/Her when hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters assembled there last summer? Where was She/Her when hundreds of pro-Hamas protesters assembled there last month?
Sadly, embracing this double standard is how we are rolling in Canada these days.
In the meantime, we are still going to fight the fines I have received for practicing journalism in Montreal, Peterborough and now Hamilton. If you can help me out with the legal fees, that would be most appreciative. Please go to www.StandWithMenzies.com, and if you are able to, kindly make a donation. Thank you.