In this February 2011 file photo, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seen with shopkeeper David Chen, who was charged with assault and forcible confinement after chasing, restraining and tying up a man who had stolen plants from his store in May 2009. (Jack Boland/QMI AGENCY)
OTTAWA - Law-abiding folk will soon be armed with greater powers to make citizen's arrests.
"Canadians want to know that they are able to protect themselves against criminal acts and that the justice system is behind them, not against them," said Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. "This new law provides clear direction on the appropriate use of citizen's arrest, self defence and defence of property."
The proposed changes to the law are partially inspired by the case in Toronto where shop owner David Chen chased down and arrested a career thief after he repeatedly ripped off his store.
"The laws are very outdated, and they were old even when they were put into the criminal code in 1892, and there has been very little modification since," said Nicholson. "We want people to act reasonably."
Officials warn that making a citizen's arrest is inherently dangerous and that trained police officers must always be considered the first line of defence and action.
With a Conservative majority, the reintroduced bill is expected to become law soon after clearing committees.