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Tuesday April 8th, 2014

Donald Cranston is one of Montreal's most notorious party promoters, a man who spends so much time behind bars that he's written a book teaching new felons how to navigate the ins and outs the penal system. "I've been in jail for all sorts of reasons. Burglary, breaking and entering, living off the avails of prostitution, grand theft auto, throwing dogs out of cars, selling cocaine to school children, beating up street mimes, I can go on and on about all the laws I've broken," says Mr. Cranston. "I'm amazed that they keep letting me out of prison."

Last Thursday, Mr. Cranston found himself in the back of a police cruiser for a reason even he finds incredible. "They arrested me for having too much swag," says Mr. Cranston. "Now that was a new one. I didn't even know that was against the law. I'm guilty as charged, though. I'm not going to deny it. The government is full of haters, man."

Having swag wasn't always illegal. "It's only been a crime for the last two months," says Casey Emers, a criminal attorney based in St-Lambert. "I think Donald might be the first person who was charged under Quebec's new Stomping Swag Act, though I doubt he'll be the last."

The law was enacted after police petitioned the government for more tools in their fight against crime. "Honest, decent people don't have swag," says Maude Lachance, secretary general of the Quebec Royal Police. "Criminals do. By targeting people with swag, we're making the streets of Quebec safer for everyone."

Civil Liberty organizations are up in arms over the new law, however. "Swag isn't even a real thing," says Constance Brown, who founded The Quebec Civil Rights League. "By making swag illegal, the Quebec government has basically given the police powers to arrest anyone they want for any reason they want. It's not like police have swag meters that let them know how much swag someone has."

Maude Lachance is adamant that the law was necessary. "The police are enforcing the Stomping Swag Act with the utmost respect for the civil liberties of all real Quebeckers. All of our officers have been trained to recognize swag through a simple two step process: first we measure a person's pigmentation, than we analyze their language profile. This is a fair and judicious process that has been enacted after careful consideration by our elected officials. Quebec is not a dictatorship, and the idea that our politicians would ever undermine the civil liberties and democratic rights of real Quebeckers is insulting."
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