J’accuse Gaz Métro of trespass

Apr. 4, 2010

I must be naïve.
When the Gaz Métro man rang my doorbell on a Saturday afternoon(March, 21, 2009,) I should have been leery. I was suspicious, but obviously not suspicious enough.
What is more abhorrent than having your gas supply cut-off? I know what’s more deplorable: Being duped into opening the door to let the gas man enter my neighbour’s property and watching him shut off their gas supply.
When I opened the door—which I share with my neighbour in our respective rented apartments—there was Andre Robillard, a Gaz Métro employee, standing at my front door. How do I know his name? I asked him to show me his identification.
He said he wanted to see my gas meter. So, I led him down the stairs to the basement. As I was leading him to my apartment’s gas meter, he took an interest in my neighbour’s gas meter which is located on the side of the basement controlled by my neighbour.
When he began taking out tools and manipulating the meter, I asked him what he was doing? To my horror, he said, “Shutting off the gas.”
“That’s a nasty thing to do,” I thought to myself. He promptly finished his task and showed no interest in seeing my gas meter.
“Oh,” I thought, “you just shut off my neighbour’s gas supply and I had inadvertently allowed it to occur.” I felt duped, mislead under false pretenses into letting him do it.
He had not wanted to see my meter at all. He had wanted entry onto my neighbour’s property, without the permission of my neighbour or the landlord. My neighbour was not home at the time.
I call this trespassing, plain and simple. I did not give the gas man permission to enter my neighbour’s home, as I have not the authority to do so. He entered the property by misleading me, did his dirty act, and then left.
I don’t know what dealings my neighbour has with Gaz Métro, nor do I care. That’s not my business. But when a Gaz Métro man misleads me into believing he wants to see my gas meter, and then rapidly shuts off my neighbour’s gas supply, I know something smells funny, and it’s not the natural gas.
In the famous court case of Entick v. Carrington in 1765, two-hundred and forty-four years ago, Lord Camden wrote some famous words:
“… our law holds the property of every man so sacred, that no man can set his foot upon his neighbour’s close without his leave: if he does he is a trespasser, though he does no damage at all; if he will tread upon his neighbour’s ground, he must justify it by law.”
Perhaps Gaz Métro had a reason to shut off my neighbour’s gas, or maybe they did not, but to the best of my knowledge they did not have the permission of my neighbour to enter his property. And I did not have authority to issue that permission either. If they did have permission, there was no need to disguise the covert mission.
I am fairly sure Gaz Métro does not want a reputation as a company who trespasses. As a company that proclaims good community relations, they have a responsibility to act respectfully and honestly in all their dealings.
You can fool some of the people some of the time, but fools like me don’t like to be fooled.
I have sent Gaz Metro a copy of this letter.

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