JUNE 13, 2011

Canada's so-called "freemen" are nothing more than "litigation terrorists" who clog up the system and steal precious resources, robbing people who need help from the courts, a judge said Monday.

Provincial court judge James Threlfall's strong words came as a Merritt man pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. The man refused to give his name to police, sparking an incident that caused officers hours of work for what should have been no more than a speeding ticket.

Troy Polyak, 36, of Logan Lake, was stopped by the RCMP for speeding near Merritt almost two years ago. Polyak did not stop right away, however, and when he finally did, refused to provide his name or identification.

He was also rude, and responded in ways suggesting he subscribed to beliefs touted by the Freeman Association of Canada, a group that believes it is above the law.

Polyak was arrested and taken into custody. He was charged with obstructing justice and causing a police pursuit, and eventually released on bail.

Both the Crown and the defence proposed a fine of $1,000. Defence lawyer Jeremy Jensen told the court his client is no freeman, even though he may have espoused such philosophies the day of the incident.

"At the time, he had an anti-authoritarian attitude but he has moved past that," said Jensen. "He's paid for his mistake here already. He's been on bail since nearly the time of the offence."

Judge Threlfall said it's a good thing for Polyak, as he would not have gone along with a fine had the man maintained a claim to be above the law.

"If I thought for a moment he was part of the freeman movement, I would not deal with it in this fashion," said the judge.

"One of the problems we have is those who are taking an anti-authoritarian stance become litigation terrorists.

"They rob from people with legitimate problems, they take from the court's time. It impacts the entire system, and affects people who legitimate need decision-making from the courts."

Threlfall said freemen ideology also needlessly causes extra work for police officers, turning simple transactions into much lengthier more complex issues.

The judge concluded with a warning - proclaiming to be freemen will inevitably make matters worse for those who appear in court.

The Freemen Association of Canada says Canadians have been enslaved by government. They also purport to be governed by the "common law," not the Criminal Code or other Canadian legislation, which they describe as "admiralty law."

Freemen believe they do not have to pay taxes or engage in many other forms of government bureaucracy, including registering vehicles or obtaining driver licences.

Freemen often write their names using strange combinations of punctuation, something they believe differentiates their "natural, flesh-and-blood person" from the corporate shells or straw men created by the government.

Prosecutor Alex Janse said people must be made to understand they have an obligation to provide police with their name and identification if stopped pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Act.