NEWS

Dean Clifford, Freemen guru, arrested on Canada-wide warrant

11/25/2013 03:42 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 05:59 EST
Dean Clifford, the so-called guru of the Freemen-on-the-Land movement, was arrested Sunday night in Hamilton on a Canada-wide warrant.

Plainclothes officers from the OPP’s Repeat Offender Parole Enforcement Squad (ROPE) nabbed Clifford after he hosted a two-day “Divestment from Corporations and Detaxation” seminar at the Hamilton Marriott.

The Canada-wide warrant was issued by Manitoba police, who allege Clifford assaulted police, resisted arrest and obstructed police in the province.

According to an Ontario Provincial Police news release, Clifford is "is currently in the process of being returned to Manitoba."

This video of the arrest has since been posted on YouTube. It contains some crude language.

Calls government work 'absolute rubbish'

Members of the Freemen-on-the-Land movement believe statute law is a contract of which people can opt out. According to Clifford’s website, he doesn’t pay income or property taxes, and doesn’t drive with a licene, insurance or government plates.

His beliefs are based on his assertion that “95 per cent of what government is doing is absolute rubbish” and he “does not consent to be governed by any of their bureaucrats,” Clifford's website reads.

“I’ve opted out of most things that people consider something you should do as a ‘good Canadian citizen,’” Clifford told the CBC’s Anna Maria Tremonti in an interview earlier this fall. “People have every right to do this, and whether or not the people of Canada like it or not is irrelevant.

“I’m going to assume all liability for myself and I’m going to be responsible for what I do.”

The Freemen-on-the-Land movement made national headlines earlier this year when a Calgary man claimed his rental property was an “embassy” that gave him rights over the landlord who owned the home.

The tenant was eventually removed from the property and police arrested him on warrants from his native Quebec, stemming from an alleged 2007 assault against his former landlady in Montreal.

'They follow their own sets of laws'

The Law Society of British Columbia and B.C. Notaries have both issued warnings about Freemen. In a bulletin last year, the society said the group may number as many as 30,000 in Canada.

The RCMP and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police are developing awareness materials for front-line officers, and the movement has been the subject of policing seminars in Vancouver and Toronto.

The FBI considers the movement a domestic terror threat in the U.S.

A 2011 FBI report cites several cases where followers have clashed with law enforcement, including the 2010 shootings of two Arkansas officers during a routine traffic stop. It warns the movement is likely to grow, fuelled by the recent economic downturn and the popularity of seminars being held across the country.

"They may refer to themselves as 'constitutionalists' or 'Freemen,' which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control," the report says. "They follow their own set of laws."

MORE:cbcNews