Three Manitobans will be receiving the Order of Canada, it was announced Sunday.
Three Manitobans will be receiving the Order of Canada, it was announced Sunday.
Certain flu vaccines the province stopped using last week have now been cleared as safe.
A Canada Post employee has been charged with mail theft.
I’ve written in the past about the guilty-until-proven-innocent approach to DUI license suspensions and the almost complete lack of due process. See, for example, "Due Process" for DUI License Suspensions, Secret Memo: DMV License Suspension Hearings Rigged and Judge: DUI License Suspension Hearings "Unacceptable".
In California, for example, when a citizen is suspected of drunk driving and is arrested, the cop confiscates the license and gives the suspect a "Notice of Suspension". The citizen has 10 days in which to call the DMV to demand a hearing, or the right to contest the cop’s automatic suspension is lost. If a hearing is granted, it will be at the DMV’s offices; the prosecutor will be a DMV employee with a high school degree. Oh yes, and the judge will be….the same person. Right: judge, jury and executioner — without any legal training and answerable only to his/her employer — the DMV.
As bad as this is, apparently our northern neighbors in the province of Alberta have gone a step further: unlike DUI suspensions in the U.S., which are for a specific period of time, those in Alberta are for an indefinite period — until the criminal charges are "resolved" in court. In other words, the accused — guilty or innocent — is coerced into pleading guilty if he wants his license back.
Lawyers Call Alberta’s Drunk Driving Penalties Unconstitutional
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. June 19 – Civil Liberties Association lawyer Joseph Arvay has been retained by Alberta firm Roadlawyers, which specializes in drunk driving cases, one of several that are decrying the Alberta government’s decision to indefinitely suspend licences of drivers who blow over the Criminal Code limit of .08 blood-alcohol content.
Drivers police deem are over the .08 limit will immediately have their licences suspended without even seeing a judge, a penalty that will remain in place until the charge is resolved in court.
“I think it’s clearly contrary to the Constitution and clearly contrary to the Charter (of Rights and Freedoms),” said Roadlaywer attorney Tim Foster.
“We intend to challenge the legislation as soon as we get retained on a file dealing with one of these — we’re going to bring a Constitutional challenge to try to strike the law down.”…
In what’s being called a first for Canada, Transportation Minister Ric McIver came out Monday saying drivers who blow over .08 will be hit hard with an indefinite suspension starting July 1, one of several get-tough measures rolled out in the Traffic Safety Amendment Act passed last year.
McIver said drivers simply weren’t refraining enough from tipping their glasses before hitting the roads and harsher penalties were needed to ensure “all of us feel more secure when we go out on Alberta roadways.”
Many lawyers, however, say the new penalties are nothing more than a tactic that will strong-arm drivers into issuing guilty pleas rather than challenge their cases in court.
“There’s some good and bad about that from a public policy perspective,” said Alan Pearse, who specializes in DUI cases in Calgary.
“The good news is you will almost certainly force guilty people to plead guilty. The bad news is you’re likely going to force some innocent people to plead guilty as well.”
Lawyer Bob Sawers called it the government’s way to “extort” guilty pleas from Albertans who can’t afford to lose their licences for several months and said he would demanding trial dates be set within two months.
Apparently, Transportation Minister McIver’s idea that "harsher penalties were needed to ensure all of us feel more secure" is to simply force anyone suspected of drunk driving to plead guilty.
I can imagine prosecutors, cops and Mothers Against Drunk Driving drooling over the idea of adopting this approach in the States….
Sun Media wants to know how we see those who live in the other corners of our nation. So we’re asking you, how would you best describe your fellow Canadians?
As I’ve mentioned in past posts, the blood-alcohol level that largely determines what constitutes "drunk driving" has steadily dropped over the years due to political pressure of groups like MADD.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving is a well-organized (over 600 chapters), well-funded (IRS Form 990 shows revenue for 2002 of ,051,441) and dangerous group of well-intentioned zealots — the very same folks who gave us Prohibition decades ago. For many years now, MADD’s agenda has been clear: apply political pressure to get ever-harsher drunk driving laws, law enforcement and punishment.
But what is the final goal? When will we have reached a state when MADD is satisfied that the drunk driving laws are sufficient?
The answer is simple: zero tolerance. No drinking and driving. And, eventually, no drinking. Exaggeration? Paranoia? Let’s look at a little DUI history…..
The original drunk driving laws were simple and fair: Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Then, years ago, law enforcement came up with crude devices to measure alcohol on the breath of drunk driving suspects. But what did, say, a .13% blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) mean? They turned to the American Medical Association which, in 1938, created a "Committee to Study Problems of Motor Vehicle Accidents"; at the same time, the National Safety Council set up a "Committee on Tests for Intoxication".
After some study, these two groups came up with their findings: a driver with .15% BAC or higher could be presumed to be "under the influence"; those under .15% could not. That’s right, .15%. And that recommendation lasted for 22 years. But certain groups were not happy with the low DUI arrest and conviction rates.
Under increasing political pressure, the committees "revisited" the question in 1960 and agreed to lower the presumed level of intoxication to .10%. Had the human body changed in 22 years? Had the AMA been negligent in their earlier studies? Or were politics and law trumping scientific truth?
Well, the arrest and conviction rates shot up, but there were still too many people escaping the DUI net. Then MADD was formed by Candy Lightner (later to quit the organization and become an outspoken critic of MADD’s Prohibitionist agenda). Soon after, legislation began appearing in many states that created a second crime: driving with a BAC of .10% or higher.
This new crime did not require the driver to be affected by alcohol: even if sober, he would be guilty if his blood-alcohol was .10%. In effect, it completely ignored the questions of intoxication, driving impairment and individual tolerance to alcohol. And, despite questions of double jeopardy, the individual could be charged and even convicted of both the traditional DUI and the new .10% crimes! This gave police and prosecutors a powerful new weapon, and drunk driving arrests/convictions jumped once again.
This was not good enough. Under increasing pressure from an ever more powerful MADD, in 1990 four states lowered the blood-alcohol level in DUI cases to .08%. Others soon followed and, ten years later, federal politicians (with one eye on MADD’s influence in elections) passed an appropriations bill in effect coercing all states into adopting the new .08% BAC standard. Since then, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has pressured state legislatures to drop the blood-alcohol level to .05%. In the meantime, they had been successful in getting nearly universal adoption of a .01% BAC standard (termed "ero tolerance") for drivers under 21.
The future is clear — and can be seen in our neighbor to the north, where .05% laws have recently been enacted…
Does New Law Miss Target on Drunk Driving?
Edmonton, British Columbia, Nov. 19 – Alberta’s new drinking-and-driving legislation will follow the tire tracks of B.C. into a decidedly grey area. In so doing, it may create opposition to an initiative that will achieve its public-safety goal, but still invite criticism for targeting drivers who are not legally impaired according to the Criminal Code of Canada.
Drinking and driving is a crime that kills too many people, both bystanders and the drunks themselves, and there ought to be universal rejection of the practice. Our premier and her government should be dedicated to the eradication of this scourge. And they were in fact wise to consult with their B.C. counterparts, whose iron-fisted and open-handed legislation is being credited with a significant reduction in deaths caused by drunk driving since its enactment in September 2010. But the Redford government has to see the B.C. legislation for its unduly harsh nature – and its cash-cow element as well.
In B.C., a driver whose blood-alcohol content is measured between .05 and .08 – which is legal under the Criminal Code – can be hit with an immediate three-day licence suspension and have to pay a fine of 0, as well as a 0 fee for licence reinstatement and might also have to pay for towing and storage if his or her vehicle is seized. Being caught in this grey area a second or third time in a five-year period results in heftier financial penalties, lengthier suspensions and longer vehicle seizures.
Government house leader Dave Hancock said Alberta’s legislation will impose a three-day suspension and vehicle seizure on a first-time offender in the .05-to-.08 category, while a second offence could cost the driver loss of licence and vehicle for 15 days. The legislation will be introduced next week and Solicitor General Jonathan Denis says he opposes a "money grab," so fines levied here may not mirror those imposed in B.C.
But a 125-pound woman needs to drink only two fiveounce glasses of wine over a one-hour period to register .06, according to a Canadian Automobile Association calculator. When Redford said she wanted new legislation to change the culture around impaired driving, surely she meant to target those who drink themselves past .08, rather than the husband and wife who share a bottle of wine on an evening out for dinner.
Simply put, there should be no need to debate a law against drinking and driving. A government should have the good sense to fashion legislation that is consistent with the Criminal Code, preserves public safety, provides a deterrent by punishing the guilty through licence suspension and stands the test of constitutionality. Albertans can only hope the Redford government is up to that challenge.
You can expect to see MADD continuing to push for new .05% laws across this country, as well. And then?
In 1999, MADD’s National Board of Directors unanimously voted to change the organization’s mission statement from just preventing drunk driving to include the prevention of underage drinking. Not underage drinking and driving — just drinking. Let me say that again: MADD formally shifted its focus away from "drunk driving" and towards the broader "problem" of drinking.
Can a new era of prohibition be far behind?