Drive-through naturist challenges nudity laws
Barrie, Ont.— The Canadian Press
Tuesday, Sep. 28, 2010
An Ontario man who court heard went through fast food drive-throughs while naked and pretended to get a wallet out of his non-existent back pocket is challenging Canada’s nudity laws as unconstitutional.
Brian Coldin is facing five charges for incidents near a clothing-optional resort he operates in Bracebridge, Ont., and incidents at an A&W and a Tim Hortons.
The laws infringe upon charter rights and suggest that somebody in a state of undress in a changing house at a public beach could be criminally charged, Coldin’s lawyer Clayton Ruby said outside court.
“This pretty clearly limits the expression of a naturist, somebody who wants to have a relationship with the world that is without impediment,” he said.
Ruby said the laws should be struck down so Parliament can tailor them, if it so chooses, because right now they’re overly broad.
One witness wept while testifying about seeing Coldin nude at a drive-through. Another witness testified about his children being upset by seeing Coldin near his resort.
But Ruby suggested no real harm came to them, as they didn’t seek counselling.
“If someone’s annoyed, well that’s just too bad,” Ruby said outside court. “That’s not what the criminal law is concerned about.”
Coldin, a slim man wearing a baggy suit, suggested the witness and the children were crying about other things and not his nudity. At his resort, people seem more uncomfortable when a Muslim woman is swimming in the pool wearing a burka than when people are swimming completely nude, he said outside court.
“We shouldn’t prosecute or harass a Muslim lady for wearing all her clothes in a pool … and why should we prosecute a naturist for being in a state God created us in?” Coldin said.
What’s worse is the shame people feel about their bodies that make them uncomfortable with nudity in the first place, he suggested.
“That’s disgusting,” he said. “Talk about mental abuse.”
In Canada, it is illegal to be nude in a public place, or while on private property but exposed to public view.
Under the Criminal Code, a “person is nude who is so clad as to offend against public decency.” The attorney general’s consent is needed to proceed with prosecution.
Jessica Swift testified that when she was working the drive-through window at an A&W in Bracebridge in May, 2009, she was “very uncomfortable” when three nude men drove up in a car. She wept on the stand as she described how she could see their genitals.
“The driver was trying to pretend that he was getting a wallet out of his back pocket, which made his private parts go back and forth on his leg,” Swift said. The passenger – alleged to be Coldin –was doing the same thing and continued even when the driver appeared to get self-conscious, she said.
Amanda Fernick was working the drive-through window on her first day at Tim Hortons when Coldin drove up and at first it looked as if he wasn’t wearing a shirt, she testified. As she passed his change back she noticed he didn’t have any pants on either and nothing was covering his genitals, Fernick testified.
“I was shocked,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it at all. I didn’t know how to react to it.”
Several of the witnesses testifying about the various incidents started to mention that this wasn’t the first time they had seen Coldin nude in public, but the lawyers would steer the witnesses back to the incidents at hand in the judge-only trial.
It is hoped the constitutional challenge will be dealt with Wednesday when the trial sits in Bradford, Ont., Ruby said outside court. But moments later in court Ruby said there has been no evidence Coldin was ever completely nude, so he may not need to raise the constitutional issues.
Ruby and co-counsel Nader Hassan asked all the witnesses if they were positive Coldin wasn’t wearing a watch or something around his neck. Some testified he was wearing sandals.
The unusual case got off to a strange start Monday morning when Ruby asked the judge to exclude someone from the courtroom. Coldin told the court a woman and her brother have been stalking him, and that the brother spit in his face in the courthouse lobby just before court started. Coldin teared up as he said the woman had threatened his life. She left the court of her own accord.
The Canadian Press
Naturist fights for the right to bare all
JUSTICE REPORTER— Globe and Mail
Monday, Jan. 17, 2011
An avowed naturist hopes to establish a right to public nudity next week – regardless of whether it’s an opportune time of year to exercise it.
Brian Coldin, the owner of a nude resort in Barrie, Ont., intends to argue that a 80-year-old prohibition against public nudity impedes a perfectly harmless form of self-expression.
“It’s the way we were born,” Mr. Coldin said in an interview Monday. “I think this is totally unjust.”
Lawyers for Mr. Coldin assert that Canadians have come a long way since the laws were enacted in the 1930s. Not everyone is inclined to toss his or her own clothes aside, but most are quite prepared to see their friends and neighbours do so, they said.
“Canadians show significant tolerance for nudity and partial nudity, as evidenced by the proliferation of nude beaches, nudity on television and survey results that suggest that a significant number of Canadians have naturist tendencies,” lawyers Clayton Ruby and Nader Hassan said in a legal brief.
Mr. Coldin was charged with three counts of being nude in a public place, and two counts of being nude and exposed to public view while on private property. The incidents took place in the vicinity of the nude resort he operates in 2008 and 2009.
He said Monday that the charges are the last straw in a long campaign of harassment by authorities who don’t want a nudist camp operating in their region.
“They have said: ‘We’re going to crush you like a bug if you think you’re going to open it up,’ ” Mr. Coldin said. “I just want to be left alone. I want my rights to stop being abused. The community is fed up with this onslaught of abuse against me.”
Nudity provisions were created to discourage members of the Doukhobor sect, who frequently stripped and paraded outside the homes and office of their political opponents as a statement of protest.
However, Mr. Ruby said that the law was so poorly fashioned that it could potentially ensnare millions of individuals engaging in activities as innocuous as walking by a window naked or changing in a public swimming pool.
“Criminal law should be concerned with crime to society, not the embarrassment of the prudest among us,” Mr. Ruby said. “Imprisonment for nudity is entirely beyond a modern conception of what the criminal law should do.”
At a previous stage in the Ontario Court of Justice proceeding against Mr. Coldin, the Crown produced several witnesses who claimed to have seen and been offended by the sight of him walking about naked in the woods.
But in response to questions from Mr. Ruby, the witnesses conceded that they suffered no traumatic harm and had not sought psychiatric care or counselling afterwards.
“None of the Crown’s witnesses testified to feeling threatened by Mr. Coldin’s skimpy attire,” the defence brief states. “None described him as menacing or threatening. None described him as behaving in a sexually suggestive or prurient manner.”
The defence also intends to argue Mr. Coldin was not “completely unclad,” as the law requires that he have been if a prosecution is to succeed. They said he was actually clad in shoes, socks and sunglasses.
The Crown is expected to file written arguments imminently.