Newfoundland Banished a Criminal to Fort McMurray Like It’s the Friggin’ Wild West

Literally exiled this time though not just figuratively like due to the province’s chronic unemployment or whatever.
July 13, 2017, 7:31pm
Sourced images: wikimedia Commons 

Newfoundland and Labrador is an innovation hub. We are at the cutting edge of any number of scientific and social advances: hydroponics. Crab-dismembering robots. Illegal dick surgery. Pizza crime. Press freedom. And now, following the banishing of Newfoundlander Gordie Bishop from his home island, we're even revolutionizing criminal sentencing.

Hard times mean hard crimes and hard crimes mean hard time. Bishop was found guilty of aggravated assault of a police officer, assaulting a police officer with a weapon, break and enter, dangerous driving, and other offences stemming from an arrest in January 2015. The police were called to the Peter Easton Pub in St. John's on the early morning of January 2 where they found Bishop inside the building. When the cops showed up he bailed and jumped in his car to drive off, but not before Constable Cathy Snelgrove tried to reach in through the driver's side window and grab Bishop's keys. She didn't get them and Bishop panicked and drove away, dragging Snelgrove down the road until she fell out and hit her head.


This wasn't Bishop's first courtroom rodeo, either: he has a 27-page criminal record of break-ins, assaults, and more.

Given all this, Justice Alphonsus Faour [sidebar: this is the most Newfoundland name of all time] had to carefully weigh his options in dealing with the crime. His solution is, frankly, genius. Rather than condemning the man to the province's archaic prison system—certainly one of the worst in Canada, if not the absolute pits—he instead broke out a gem from the archives: exile. He credited Bishop for the two years and three months he spent in custody since his arrest, and put him on probation for a year with the additional condition that he is to be banished from Newfoundland and Labrador for the duration. (He's also banned for driving for three years).

Obviously, literally exiling someone from their homeland is a pretty unorthodox punishment in the 21st century. It's an open question whether the banishment order would survive an appeal; exiling Bishop—who has never left Newfoundland—from the entire province is arguably a violation of his Charter rights to freedom of movement and association.

That's only if the sentence is appealed, though. Bishop wrote in a pre-sentencing report that he was willing to make a major break from his old life, and the hope is that leaving the Rock will help him separate from the associates, environments, and lifestyle that has put him in front of a judge so many times before.

Bishop isn't being totally left out in the cold, either: according to his father, he will likely head to Fort McMurray, Alberta, where his mother, sister, and young son live.

Aye—nothing like a stint up in Fort Mac to help a wayward Newf get his life back together. Why haven't we tried using the work camps as a penal colony before? Justice Alphonsus Faour just might be on to something here.

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