The head of London Drugs likes the idea of a special court for Stanley Cup rioters if it means offenders will have to pay small businesses for some of the damage they caused and complete community work.
"They have to do something to pay back the society," said Wynne Powell, chief operating officer and president of London Drugs.
He said staff at the looted London Drugs on West Georgia and Robson continue to receive professional treatment for the terror they suffered. "To me, it's a huge cost," Powell said.
In the independent review of the riot that shook Vancouver June 15, co-chairs John Furlong and Douglas Keefe recommend the attorney general establish a procedure or special court to deal with the prosecution of people accused of riot-related criminal acts. They say Crown counsel and judges should be able to respond with measures that fit the criminal, "from hardcore thugs to the easily excited and the easily led one-time offenders," and consider the community harm done.
Furlong suggested at the release of The Night the City Became a Stadium report, Aug. 31 that Vancouver's community court could be tweaked to handle rioters with input from the community.
The special court could use restorative justice, which requires wrongdoers to recognize the harm they've caused, accept responsibility for their actions and make reparations to victims and the community.
".It is good at reaching the ones who still don't have a clue of the harm they've done," the report states. "In their minds ransacking The Bay only hurt a big company. If we are to trust them again we need to know they understand that they terrified people just like them."
Keefe and Furlong told reporters they included recommendations about how offenders should be handled among their prevention suggestions because a riot is a special situation. "We feel that a riot is an offence against the community, just like breaking in and looting a store is not 200 individual acts of shoplifting going on at once, it's terrorism," Keefe said.
He argued using restorative justice for some offenders isn't at odds with Premier Christy Clark's assertions that rioters should serve jail time.
Solicitor General Shirley Bond, who is also acting attorney general, said Sept. 1 that she has asked the deputy attorney general to discuss the possibility of a special procedure or court with the chief judge. Clark told reporters Sept. 1 the government is reviewing recommendations to see which could be pursued swiftly. She suspects establishing a special procedure or court would require legislation. "I would expect the courts in some cases will look to restorative justice for some people," she added.
The Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association has submitted a list of potential community service jobs that include graffiti removal and litter collection to the community court.
Powell still plans to pursue a civil lawsuit against rioters. "Us going after them civilly is not to try to collect
money because we know the legal costs will be more than the recovery in all cases, probably," he said. "But we think that if the criminal system doesn't get them, the civil system has a lower threshold of proof and we think if you stole a $2,000 Nikon camera, saying sorry and keeping the camera doesn't cut it."
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