False arrest, defamation to cost Parks Canada, RCMP $77,500

  • Jun. 30, 2003 4:00 p.m.

An court award late last week has restored a local man’s faith in the justice system. Tassilo Goetz Hanisch has been awarded more than $77,000 in damages after he launched a civil suit against Parks Canada and one of its wardens for defamation and false arrest.
It started five years ago, on July 27,1998, when Mr. Hanisch saved a Parks zodiac, which had broken away from a larger vessel in a storm near his Rose Harbour home. Instead of being thanked by the feds, Mr. Hanisch was arrested and charged with mischief, handcuffed and helicoptered to Queen Charlotte, booked and released, and forced to find his own way to remote Rose Harbour.
The mischief charge was subsequently dismissed for lack of evidence, but Mr. Hanisch thought he had been treated unfairly, and decided to sue Parks Canada, when he could not reach an out of court settlement.
Then, last week, the BC Supreme Court agreed, and ordered the federal government to pay damages totaling $77,500.
Mr. Hanisch says he is surprised that the amount awarded is so high, but says it has upheld his faith in the justice system.
The Supreme Court justice described the case as ‘outrageous’ and says the Parks Canada warden, Renee Wissink acted in a way that was “oppressive and motivated by malice”. He also said the investigating RCMP officer was inexperienced and failed to properly investigate the situation. The court also found that Warden Wissink lied twice during the trial and that his testimony was selective and contradictory.
“I am satisfied that (Mr. Hanisch) was subject to conduct that was high-handed in the case of Mr. Wissink. He was the architect of a plan to use the retrieval of a boat by the plaintiff to harm him economically, and in the criminal perspective, to deny him his liberty,” Mr. Justice R.B. Harvey found, “This is what he was able to do not only by the manipulation of evidence, but as well, by deception in the perspective of not truly informing (RCMP) Constable Ward on the status of the matter on the morningÂ…before (Mr. Hanisch) was arrested. In this regard, I am satisfied that Mr. Wissink’s behaviour was oppressive and was motivated by malice.”
A pleased Mr. Hanisch had not seen a copy of the judgment when we spoke to him Monday morning from Rose Harbour “I just got word,” he said, “It’s going to arrive in Rose Harbour here this afternoon.”
While Mr. Hanisch has been vindicated by the court, he has yet to receive one thing he was looking for from Parks Canada and the RCMP. A simple ” we’re sorry”.