We are grateful to this post from our Canadian contributor who goes by the alias of “Hilfskreuzer Möwe” and who can be found on http://www.quatloos.com/Q-Forum/
For a general summary of OPCA litigation and the Freeman on the Land phenomenon, see our post here.
OPCA litigation – the Canadian Perspective
Most of us Freeman/Sovereign/OPCA commentators are cautious about out revealing our identities. The Canadian variety of these folks are not as much of a threat as their U.S. counterparts, but there still are very real risks.
Freeman philosophy as a ‘virus’ : the epidemiological model.
I tend to approach Freeman/OPCA ideas from a meme basis. These are a parasitic, highly pathogenic strain of ideas that rapidly transmit in susceptible peer groups. Emphasis there on “susceptible”. Our experience in Canada is that Freeman concepts are tightly concentrated in certain peer groups, where their ‘hosts’ reinforce one-another’s preconceptions and preoccupations. The preferred ‘hosts’ are those who usually are poorly educated but believe themselves highly sophisticated, typically with ‘alternative’, non-conformist, leftist, eco-nik, occupista views. This can both be ‘old hippies’ and their younger anti-authoritarian counterparts.
These persons are thoroughly indoctrinated that state and corporate actors are malevolent, or at least controlled. That facilitates the idea of hidden controlling parties that use false law as the basis for their authority. Another problematic aspect of this ‘host’ group is that they have typically been taught to follow leaders who appear incredibly flakey to the average person.
The epidemiological model for these ideas actually works very well. Once OPCA ideas reach a susceptible but uninfected population they spread very rapidly, though social peer relationships. This is a period where gurus, old and new, surge their activities and obtain many subscribers. The combination of guru promotion and peer encouragement results in numerous attempts to apply these ideas.
The next stage is collapse. After a certain number of failures the peer groups abandon OPCA ideas, and move on to something else. The time to collapse is affected by whether there is a perception that the OPCA scheme is already complete, or if instead there is a need to adapt or grow ideas – a kind of “let’s do a trial and error” period. ‘Pre-fab’ schemes grow and collapse fast – an excellent example was an outfit called the One People’s Public Trust. It appeared in late 2012, attracted massive attention, but by summer 2013 had all but collapsed.
Another key ‘time to collapse’ factor is knowledge of in-court and other failures. OPCA litigants are notorious for lying and misrepresenting their degree of success. They also tend to interpret delay as success. Media, court judgment, and ‘skeptic’ reporting is very efficient at this stage.
That in part is what myself and a few collaborators are doing on Quatloos at present with Dean Clifford. It’s costing us some cash but we’re ordering court materials and putting them online to demonstrate that his claims and what is actually going on do not match. Nothing wrecks a guru like proof of failure – and that’s where online groups like Quatloos and (in the past) the James Randi Educational Foundation forums have proven very effective. JREF has declined as a useful agent, sad to say.
The Three Waves of OPCA belief
Post-collapse a small number of die-hard believers will usually persist and attempt to carry on their OPCA ideas. In Canada we have had three waves of OPCA belief – a racist anti-tax group that is not well characterized at present, the anti-tax “Detaxers”, and now the Freemen. The first two are extinct, except for the holdouts. There’s not much that can be done about them – they just keep coming on, no matter the degree of state, court, and social sanction. They are very few in number, so as a threat that can be contained.
The interesting thing about the holdouts is that they are the pool from which the next wave of gurus emerge – they are the ‘disease carriers’ – once they find another susceptible and hitherto unexposed potential host population for their memes. Epidemiology really is a very effective model for this phenomenon!
Review of Canadian Jurisprudence
I found this large review of Canadian OPCA jurisprudence which was prepared as part of a bar association education session:
It’s written by a staff lawyer from the Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench, the same court that generated Meads v. Meads. Looks like they keep pretty close track of these things!
We too are having issues with those. The rules of whether or not a person can represent another in court vary jurisdiction to jurisdiction and court to court. In some instances the rule is strict – a lawyer or nobody. But others are more flexible. On the Freeman-type front that is less of an issue since now that the courts know what to look for, when a suspect agent appears the judges intervene and exclude that person.
That’s been going on for over a decade – our judges are pretty aggressive on that point, but so far the process is rather informal. Again, the proliferation of written judgments seems to help since the stereotypical ‘bad agent’ is often a former vexatious litigant. Point to the judgment that declared that person vexatious, and you have grounds to remove the problematic McKenzie friend.
As I previously mentioned our most useful Freeman commentary is in the reported jurisprudence. There are a very few other useful resources – to date academic commentary has not been very helpful, but there are a few exceptions. In my opinion this couple of papers by a Canadian sociologist offer some useful overview and background.
- Stephen A. Kent & Robin D. Willey, “Sects, Cults and the Attack on Jurisprudence”, (2013) 14 Rutgers Journal of Law & Religion 309.
- Stephen A. Kent, “Freemen, Sovereign Citizens, and the Threat to Public Order in British Heritage Countries” (seminar paper)
The Canadian experience of Freeman and Family law
In the Canadian experience many of the worst cases are family law matters, usually scenarios that involve custody or access. It’s sad because in many instances I suspect the parent who is pushing these actions could have at least some access or role in the child’s life, but the use of Freeman tactics almost guarantees that will not be the result.
Putting together the pieces, it usually looks like the parent(s) who adopt Freeman strategies have some kind of issues – drugs, homelessness, violence, criminal activities. My suspicion has long been that these people have limited success when they try to use lawyers or the ‘legal’ procedures to gain access/custody of their children. Their desperation leads them to use Freeman schemes which just make things worse. That then cycles up.
There aren’t a lot of reported cases of this kind in Canada but our little Canadian observer group has tracked a few via media sources and the parent’s own websites.
The Categories of OPCA in Canadian Family Law
It is an evolving phenomenon. It seems the most common ways in which Freeman/OPCA type ideas appear are:
- as an excuse to evade payment of child and spousal support,
- as a mechanism to challenge child custody, and
- as a response to child seizure by state authorities.
These are ways that Freeman concepts are used ‘offensively’. The first one is kind of basic – a parent claims they have some magic method to exclude themselves from the usual support enforcement procedures. The most comic variation is where the delinquent parent/spouse claims to make their payments from a huge secret bank account operated by state actors. This is a U.S. concept called “Acceptance for Value” (“A4V” for short) or “Redemption”. There’s a nice commentary on that in the Meads decision as Dennis Larry Meads (oops – sorry, :::Dennis-Larry :: of the Meads Family::: ) tried to use that mechanism to pay off his spousal and child support obligations.
In theory, a Freeman should not say “I opt out of my obligations that flow from marriage”, because Freemen say they honour contracts between people – and marriage is usually seen as a contract or contract-like. Well, that’s not to say Freemen don’t still try to work around that.
Here is quite a recent example of that: Curle v. Curle, 2014 ONSC 1077.
At para. 8 it explains how the father in this case claims his marriage never existed because the state’s authority over him was fraudulent.
This case is also a good example of the second category – where Freeman/OPCA ideas are used to claim a superior interest by one parent in children. Here the father claims he has “full title (legal and equitable)” to his children, which trumps the interest of the mother.
Another example of that is found here: A.N.B. v. Hancock, 2013 ABQB 97. If you look at paras. 60-64 the father invokes old U.S. slavery-period legal principles to claim his children as property!
The third category is probably the most alarming. Canada has seen a significant number of parents who lose custody of their children to the state and then adopt Freeman/OPCA tactics in court. In a way it’s understandable, as these are desperate, desperate people, who understandably may grasp at any straw. But it’s not helping them.
This is a growth area and a very troublesome one. Freeman theory says you can opt out of state authority or somehow have rights that trump everyone else. The logical endpoint of that is that if the state takes your child and does not comply with your demands then it is the state that is acting unlawfully – not you. The remedy? Litigation or force. In the A.N.B. v. Hancock matter that is exactly what happened. A second decision discusses A.N.B. trying to get bail after he began threatening family services lawyers and personnel: R. v. A.N.B., 2012 ABQB 556
I’m pretty certain I have read A.N.B. ultimately pled guilty and received an eight month sentence – the decision is not reported.
Canadian approach – Freeman beliefs in and of themselves equal bad parenting
There is a new development on the family law/Freeman front – courts are starting to use Freeman affiliation against those who advance it. There are a couple trial level Canadian judgments where courts have determined that holding Freeman-type anti-government and anti-authoritarian belief is a basis to restrict child access and custody. Basically it comes to this; if you tell your child they are not subject to state and court authority then you are a bad parent. S.H. v G.J., 2013 BCPC 242:
This is a new trend, so we’ll see how far our courts take things.
But the most bizarre example of OPCA strategies in the Canadian experience of family law turns out to be founder and principle guru of the Freeman-on-the-Land community itself – Robert-Arthur: Menard. Menard, back in the early 2000’s, was the one who collected a number of pre-existing OPCA ideas and combined those to create the characteristic Freeman-on-the-Land concept set: that everything is a contract, you are only controlled by the government through a ‘strawman’ legal entity attached to you, and that you can unilaterally ‘contract out’ of that strawman bond.
But that wasn’t his first obsession. It was his daughter. Menard claims to have a daughter he fathered with a underage street child he met in a bar. The newborn daughter, Elizabeth Anne Elaine, was then ‘abducted’ by child welfare services. Menard’s initial obsession was an idea that a parent signing a birth certificate turns a child into the government’s property. Here, the mother of his child did that, and that’s why Menard believes he could not keep his child.
Rather than provide more detail, I’d suggest those interested read Menard’s book on the subject “Your Child Or Her Life! DECEPTION AND EVIL IN THE Ministry of Children, Family and Community Development”, by Robert Arthur: – www.angelfire.com/planet/thinkfree/childorlife.pdf
It’s pretty extraordinary.
Menard entered into a relationship with a much younger individual, probably a very troubled person. A child resulted. The mother appears to have voluntarily given up the child for adoption. So, Menard faces a challenge: 1. the nature of his relationship with the mother; 2. his inability to parent, his absence of any useful work or life skills, probable drug use and addictions, and lack of finances; 3. the fact the mother of his child wants him no-where near the kid, and probably herself; and 4. his genuine emotion and bond to his child and his wish to be a parent.
He has failed himself, his child, and the child’s mother. If he were honest to himself the consequences would be, at a minimum, grim. So he reverses the blame, and puts the fault outside himself. If only he had been given a chance. He’d have shown them all what he could do. It wasn’t his fault. He was denied that chance by sinister government authorities who enslave the Canadian population – and the vile mechanism by which they derived the authority to seize his child. Her mother had signed a birth certificate. In Canada we have seen this particular drama revisited in various forms, with other troubled parents. These are, perhaps, the most difficult OPCA litigants to control and assist. I think it is because they know, on some level, their error.
There’s a weird symmetry that these desperate, traumatized parents will be the last Freemen – the ones who just won’t give up – and in that way they are precisely the same as the first.