On the same day that the world’s stock markets not only faltered under the fear of more credit melting away, but actually took huge tumbles before recovering their footing just before the closing bell, we also got to saw the infamous Igor Kenk regaining his own bearings at the Cadillac Lounge during the launch of the new book Kenk: A Graphic Novel. Outside the Caddy, there wasn’t a free locking spot for as far as the eye could see, with bikes double and triple parked to anything that would secure them along that entire stretch of Queen West, and inside the crowd filled Sam’s spaciously expanded lounge with barely elbowroom to spare, as people were spilling out the door onto the sidewalk…Until someone yelled that the screening had started. Continue Reading
The unveiling of Igor Kenk as a comicbook ‘anti-hero’ in the graphic novel “Kenk: A Graphic Portrait” has made alot of people realise that the Kenk Saga has ceased being a criminal case, and has now become part of the city’s culture, and perhaps someday, part of its retrospectively colored history. Unbeknownst to many Torontonians, the infamous case of Igor Kenk vs. The Crown was actually wrapped up at the end of 2009 with a guilty plea to 16 various drug and theft charges. Although this case was widely publicised at the start with high-profile bust of Kenk at his Queen West location, the Public has been left to simmer in its own bitter bile for a few years, only to find out that Kenk was then released for time served in February of 2010. How could this possibly be a fitting closure for alleged crimes that spanned decades, and resulted in thousands of bikes being seized? Who can fault the Public for once again feeling as though justice can be miscarried through plea-bargaining?
The root of this mis-perception lies in the fact that Igor has been notorious for many, many years now. His outrageous public persona was genuinely the stuff of legend, and although bike-theft was a citywide pox, Igor had become the central communicator for the entire disease. So it creates a schism in public perceptions when the alleged theft of thousands of bikes, and assorted drug charges, resulted in only 30 months of jail time, which was commuted to include time already served. This might very well be a case where the legend becomes larger than life, and once justice peeled away at its layers, we weren’t left with enough substance to prosecute to the degree that the Public thirsted for. Or perhaps the Public has been mislead by events, and missed some key facts about the actual crimes and Kenks culpability, and is now left hanging as well!
The recent case of the Crown vs. Igor Kenk showed us a few things about how the Law operates, but some realizations might come as a surprise to those of us seeking to stay on the right side of the road. As it turns out, our Property Rights are actually upheld in a virtual trust with the Law, and are actually nothing more than a widely held illusion. One that is supported by a very thin and subjectively drawn line. In fact, without any provisions made in our Constitution for assuring the rights to personal property, this line can be drawn anywhere that lawmakers see fit.
At present here in Ontario, the point of demarcation between you and the “ownership” of your property is best demonstrated by a piece of Provincial Legislature called the Civil Remedies Act (CRA). This law loosely stipulates that if something that you consider to be yours can be associated with any criminal activity (not used in an actual “crime” nor resulting from the proceeds of crime, mind you), it is subject to forfeiture under the Civil Remedies Act. Igor Kenk discovered this the hard way of course, in some sort of Karmic backlash, that most people still don’t understand.
When it comes to our personal property, and and it’s assumed worth, we have to remember that life is comprised of all sorts of shared illusions, that are often held together with nothing more than trust and collectively held belief systems. Consider the credit (ie. DEBT) driven basis for our economic systems, that is supported by the idea that everyone will keep paying things down, even if it winds up taking generations to do so. We could even take God and/or the Monetary System for other examples of Trust (ie. faith in the system) but let’s not go there, since neither one of them is really solidly backed by gold reserves anymore, anyhow.
What we can do, is just believe that there are enough chairs for everyone to keep dancing around, and that the music will never stop and force us to take stock of how much ACTUAL value there is in our economy that is largely built on properties that have been valued according to the debt that they underwrite. In this ongoing game of trust, we should also establish how the Law actually supports your ability to retain property under your name, and assure that it can’t be taken away from you…Unless of course your car needs to be commandeered by an officer of the law, or your home happens to be in the path of a new automobile expressway, or if you happen to become “associated” with some criminal activity and therefore fall under the auspicious scope of such provisions as the Civil Remedies Act (CRA) here in Ontario, Canada.
So let’s cover the CRA real quick, so that we can all get right back to our regularly scheduled pursuit of happiness as most people understand it to be…
Back in the Summer of 2008 the world changed in a big way for alot of people, but most especially for the infamous Igor Kenk. For years, this ill-reputed merchant and bike-mechanic had been notorious not just for his rumored deeds and corrosively incisive views on Society, but also as a magnetic force for street urchins and anyone else who felt disenfranchised in a world driven by the pursuit of happiness through possessions and consumption. In his visible role as a raving misfit on the edge of a bustling Queen West scene in Toronto, and a sneering purveyor of cheap transportation to anyone who would doubt his wisdom, Kenk became personified as twisted street prophet. Foretelling doom for Western Culture with its unbridled growth through the exploitation of resources, and the fallacies of credit/debt fueled economic expansion at all costs.
In the lengthy saga of the Crown’s prosecution of Igor Kenk as the “world’s most notorious bike thief”, the Public was led to believe that a crime spree that had lasted for decades, had resulted in an enormous volume of charges finally being leveled against the defendant as the result of the famous late night raid of Igor’s Bicycle Clinic. The initial deluge of surprising revelations about drugs and stolen art being added to the litany of bike-theft complaints, and the thousands of bikes and parts being seized from various rented garages, as well as in the infamous shop on Toronto’s Queen West, had all created the kind of Public furor that a local Media would have been more than happy to rile up into a good old-fashioned lynch mob…back in a kinder, gentler day. Instead we were led to believe that there was a mountain of stolen bikes, and well-substantiated charges leveled against Kenk, and that Justice would indeed be brought to bear.
As 2009 was winding down, the growing vacuum of new (or at least well publicised) information on this case had left the Public wondering aloud in the online forums and other social circles of the Internet, just when and how justice would ever be dispensed to close this case. In fact most average people didn’t even realise that the case had already been closed with a guilty plea just before Christmas 2009, and that time served had been factored in. As a result, Kenk’s sudden release last month only exasperated this unquenched public thirst for blood, and did nothing to quell the growing general sentiment that the time served didn’t seem to fit the crime.
Instead the Public, with its limited views and misconceptions about the Law and it’s Enforcement, became even more entrenched in its popular notions that lawyers can somehow circumvent the law if there’s enough money involved. So how do we reconcile the apparent difference between what is, and what should be?
After years of apparent apathy about bike theft in the city of Toronto, in July 2008 city officials, authorities, and law enforcement officers took on a suddenly very keen and marked interest with the famous arrest of Igor Kenk. Not only only showing resolve in the simple dispensation of their duty to investigate bike theft, but in fact in orchestrating a full blown late night sting operation on Igor Kenk’s infamous Bike Clinic on Queen West. A well publicised operation that was covered in the media with supporting facts, figures, and background info that was produced in time for the first printings the very next day. This level of well produced exposure also indicated a keen interest in both the execution of this successful operation, and in the public perceptions that the issue of bike theft had been dealt a sever blow…The wheels of justice seemed to finally be moving!
Since that time though, Torontonians in general, and Cyclists in particular, had been waiting with waning anticipation for justice to be served. For visible signs of restitution, or at least some sort of karmic balance being applied in the unfolding of the infamous case of Igor Kenk vs The Crown…
Life has a funny way of coming around full circle, one way or another. The recent release of Igor Kenk for time served in his drug and bike theft convictions may not have provided the Public with the vindication that most would have liked, but this week a measured sense of Public ‘closure’ was finally provided by the Ministry of the Attorney General with their disbursement of bikes and parts to “kids in need”. On Monday of this week Torontonians finally learned about the fate of the over 2200 bikes/frames that still remained from the forced forfeiture that Kenk agreed to in September of 2009. These ‘wards of the State’ are now being re-distributed for adoption by a variety of selected organizations, both here in the city, and to First Nation’s communities in Northern Ontario. Yet this isn’t where the final feel-good chapter of this saga ends…Not by a long shot.
Take for example the 30 bikes and 1,000 assorted bike frames and parts that have been delivered to the Cabbagetown Youth Centre this week. This will be an enormous ongoing Community project, since most of these frames need to be re-assembled from hundreds of parts. Some have suggested that the Ministry would have been better to auction these parts off to fetch the best price, and simply buy complete bikes with the proceeds. This might have been an especially lucrative approach considering the many nicer road bike frames that are reportedly in these piles of parts involved, however the opportunity to learn skills and the value of hard work would have been lost in such a straight hand-out. Also, most people can just subconsciously presume that in addition to any speculation on choice pieces by insiders, the bureaucratic and self-inflated costs of administering anything at the government or Public Service level, would have simply dissolved any extra value right out of such an equation. So it’s best to just take the big messy approach, and get these bikes sorted and re-built at the Community level.