Suspected association with extremist groups not enough reason to deny bail, judge rules

·3 min read
RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team shared this photo of magazine pouches, a knife, and a balaclava seized after the February arrest. (RCMP - image credit)
RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team shared this photo of magazine pouches, a knife, and a balaclava seized after the February arrest. (RCMP - image credit)

A judge has granted bail under strict conditions to a Parkland County man arrested in February by the Alberta RCMP's national security team.

Kelvin Maure, 26, faces over 35 charges related to the alleged possession of illegal firearms and explosive substances. An earlier provincial court hearing denied his release but Maure sought a review.

In his decision released on Tuesday, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sterling Sanderman said the Crown had failed to demonstrate why Maure should remain detained, given a presumption of innocence and a Charter right to not be denied reasonable bail without just cause.

According to the document, RCMP began investigating Maure after receiving information about online posts he made and a potential association or fascination with extreme-right wing groups.

But Sanderman said there was no concrete evidence before the court to definitively tie him to these groups or beliefs.

"To deny him bail based on these assertions would be wrong," Sanderman wrote.

"It would be reminiscent of the overreaction during the McCarthy era of the early 1950s and to the unjustified fear of Communist subversives."

After posting $1,500 bail, Maure will be released to live with his mother in Edmonton under strict conditions.

RCMP surveillance

Concern over Maure's online activity and potential associations led to RCMP surveillance, according to the decision's summary of events. Surveillant officers observed Maure fired assault weapons in a reckless way on private rural property, it said.

Maure was arrested on Feb. 13. Search warrants were executed and police found assault weapons, silencers, prohibited firearms, ammunition and materials needed to construct explosive devices.

Multiple charges were laid in relation to each weapon. Sanderman noted in his decision that "every possible charge seems to have been contemplated by the authorities."

Authorities also found clothing similar to those worn by the RCMP and evidence of research on how to remediate firearms to fully automatic capacity as well as the capability of certain explosives to create chaos in electrical power transmission.

The Crown argued detention was warranted because of Maure's possession of prohibited firearms, a cavalier attitude toward discharging semi-automatic rifles, an interest in promoting social unrest and "connections, however tenuous with potentially neo-Nazi organizations," Sanderman wrote.

Maure, in turn, suggested there were "litigable issues" related to the validity of the search warrants and an overstatement of his connection to far-right groups.

"He argues that his fascination with weaponry and a certain lifestyle is the sign of an immature, role-playing young man who miscalculated enormously the seriousness of his conduct," Sanderman wrote.

Nonetheless, the justice notes the conduct may be magnified by "the concern that all citizens should have in relation to the rise of neo-Nazi groups consisting of violent young men even in the most established western democracies."

The Crown's concerns regarding Maure's beliefs were "valid but misplaced," he wrote.

Release conditions

Sanderman wrote that Maure's release plan "offers constant supervision in the community."

Besides living with his mother, the plan includes stipulations that Maure cannot leave Edmonton, except to attend court in Stony Plain, and must be accompanied when he leaves the apartment complex.

He cannot possess any firearms, ammunition or explosives nor have access to the internet or electronic devices capable of accessing it.

Sanderman wrote the Crown may submit suggestions for further terms within 10 days of the decision.

A trial is set for April 2022.

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