Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Alberta justice: guilty until proven innocent

Some statistics have been released on Alberta's new "tough" drunk driving laws and the province says they're "promising".

Firstly, this is not enough of a proper data set to make a statement like that.

Secondly, there were 770 three-day vehicle seizures for people blowing between .05 and .08.  Remember, these people have not committed a crime as they did not blow over .08 as per the Canada Criminal Code, but the Alberta government has assumed they have the right to seize your property.  The interesting thing is, with the new law, whether you blow between .05 or .08 or if you blow over .08, your vehicle is seized for three days regardless.  So doesn't that imply a similar offence?  Before, if you blew over .08 you received an automatic 24-hour suspension but your vehicle was not seized.  Now it's three days for over .05.

Thirdly, what the province hasn't addressed is the real problem--repeat offenders.  You've heard the stories of drunk drivers being convicted multiple times only to be allowed back on the road multiple times.

Also, there is not enough conclusive evidence to show that drivers causing death or accidents had a BAC between .05 and .08.  So why .05?  Why not .04?  Who determined that .05 is the standard or did the Alberta PC gov't just copy what BC was doing?

Thankfully, the law is being challenged in court as to its violation of the fundamentals of our justice system--that is, you're being presumed guilty until proven innocent.

"Lawyer Fred Kozak is involved in a constitutional challenge of that aspect of the new law in Court of Queen's Bench this December. The challenge claims automatic licence suspensions are unconstitutional because they violate the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. "Is it fair to punish people prior to their trial?"
What the new law appears to be admitting is that the province has not put their foot down with those who blow over .08 and especially the repeat offenders to send that message to drivers who get behind the wheel after a bunch of drinks.

Let's admit what it is, it's a smoke screen law, supposedly to be a preventative measure, and it allows police to be judge and executioner on the spot without due process, and now the government is releasing selected statistics to show that they're doing something to curb drinking and driving without addressing the real issues.

To me, what would be a fairer, more applicable compromise law is if someone blows .05-.08 using the roadside Breathalyzer, that they receive a 24-hour license suspension, get around 8 demerits like a normal traffic violation, and a $500 fine, you know, like speeders or bad drivers.  If it happens again within a period, then your license is suspended for a year, and you then need to take a driving class and get a road test again.
What are your thoughts?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Taser news updates

Don't think I forgot about Tasering.  There's been some news lately in Canada.

Remember that Polish immigrant at the Vancouver airport that was Tasered and then died as a result?  The RCMP officer charged in the case was found not-guilty of perjury.

And now the incident on a Toronto streetcar of an 18 year old man wielding a knife inside the car threatening people is top news in Canada.  Reports show that after the car stopped and people panicked to get out, about a dozen police arrived, the man standing inside at the front of the car was then asked by gun-drawn police to put down the knife several times.  Supposedly, the man then shouted at police "You're a f____g pussy" and still didn't put the knife down moved forward then received three gun shots, then six more and went down.

The controversy is three fold:

1.  Why were there shots at all if there was no real eminent threat, despite the profanity?  It's said a female officer was standing next to the shooting officer with her arms folder?  Couldn't the dozen or so officers on scene have stormed the man and apprehended him?

2.  Why were six additional shots fired at the man if he was already shot three times?  Why did other officers pull the shooting officer away after the six additional shots?

3.  Why was he Tasered after nine gunshots and having fallen to the floor?  Or why wasn't he Tasered in the first place?  Or why not just apprehended using other techniques, heck even pepper spray?  Aren't police trained in these things?

As the investigation continues, pay close attention citizens.  I don't think the 18 year old man deserved death on the spot.  The shooting officer has been suspended with pay.  Will he face criminal charges?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Do the Shuffle!

— Stephen Harper, prime minister;  Glad he's still there.
— Bernard Valcourt, minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development;  Who?— Rob Nicholson, minister of national defence;  Moved.  He'll be competent. — Peter MacKay, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada;  Moved.  Being a lawyer, perfect position.
— Rona Ambrose, minister of health;  She's better at intergovernmental relations but she'll do well here.— Diane Finley, minister of public works and government services;  Good fit.— John Baird, minister of foreign affairs;  Same. Excellent fit.  — Tony Clement, president of the Treasury Board;  Same.  Meh.— Jim Flaherty, minister of finance;  Same.  Irish eyes are smilin'.— Peter Van Loan, government leader in the House of Commons;  Same.  Meh.—Jason Kenney, minister of employment and social development;  New.  He's one of the most competent ministers.— Gerry Ritz, minister of agriculture and agri-food;  Still?— Christian Paradis, minister of international development and minister for La Francophonie;  Sure.— James Moore, minister of industry;  Moved. Finally moved from heritage.— Denis Lebel, minister of infrastructure, communities and intergovernmental affairs and minister of the economic development agency of Canada for the regions of Quebec;  Sure.— Leona Aglukkaq, minister of the environment, minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and minister for the Arctic Council;  Environment?  Ok, we'll see.— Lisa Raitt, minister of transport;  Sure.— Gail Shea, minister of fisheries and oceans; Sure.
— Julian Fantino, minister of veterans affairs; Same.— Steven Blaney, minister of public safety;  Who?— Ed Fast, minister of international trade;  Who?— Joe Oliver, minister of natural resources;  Sure.— Kerry-Lynne Findlay, minister of national revenue;  Ok.— Shelly Glover, minister of Canadian heritage and official languages;  Ok.— Chris Alexander, minister of citizenship and immigration;  Good.— Kellie Leitch, minister of labour and minister of status of women;  Good.— Maxime Bernier, minister of state for small Business and Tourism, and Agriculture;  He's back!— Lynne Yelich, minister of state for foreign affairs and consular;  Ok.— Gary Goodyear, minister of state for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario; Who?— Rob Moore, minister of state for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency;  But he's from BC?— John Duncan, minister of state and chief government whip;  Ok.—Tim Uppal, minister of state for multiculturalism;  Perfect.— Alice Wong, minister of state for seniors;  Who?— Bal Gosal, minister of state for sport; Who?—Kevin Sorenson, minister of state for Finance;  Good.— Pierre Poilievre, minister of state for democratic reform;  Yoy!— Candice Bergen, minister of state for social development;  And Murphy Brown?— Greg Rickford, minister of state for science and technology, and Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario;  Who?— Michelle Rempel, minister of state for western economic diversification.  Let's see what you can do!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Conservative Exodus 3:1?

"Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God." - Exodus 3:1.
With the recent announcements by Alberta Conservative caucus members Ted Menzies and Diane Ablonczy, plus Senate Majority Leader Marjory Le Breton all stepping down soon or later, does this constitute the beginning of an Exodus against Prime Minister Stephen Harper, or simply many have served so long they thought it was time to go?

Let's have a look-see:

Diane Ablonczy -- She's been through it all!  Part of the Western Canada Concept back in the 80's, she then  was elected as a Reform MP in 1993, then years later, absorbed with the Canadian Alliance. She ran for the leadership wanting to unite the CA and PC parties, but Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay did that and the Conservative Party was born.  Her resume in Parliament is impressive--twenty years as an MP and on committees and junior cabinet roles.  I think this is a milestone for her and not part of any Exodus.  She'll stick around for two more years.  This is a pretty standard heads-up announcement to give potential replacements candidates time to organize.

Ted Menzies -- Since 2006 he's been appointed Parliamentary Secretary for La Francophonie (despite not speaking any French), and Parl. Sec. for Finance.  He's announcing he's not seaking re-election.  Again, another heads up move two years out from 2015.

Marjory Le Breton -- She's been around working in the PCs since the Diefenbaker years. Appointed to the Senate under Mulroney in 1993, she was originally opposed to the CA-PC merger but then saw the inevitable and came on board.  Harper then made her the Government Leader in the Senate and she's sat on a zillion committees and boards.  With the recent senate scandals, her being 73, now is probably a good time to step down as senate leader and let someone else do the job and transition with him or her in the next two years before she must retire.

So all in all, I don't see anything out of the ordinary.  All three have been quite supportive of Harper. I think it's all typical media hype regarding a so-called "exodus".  Parliament is not in session.  It's summer.  All three have legitimate reasons for not continuing in their roles after 2015--primarily giving time for others to step up in the next two years.

Now whether Harper has led the flock to the far side of the wilderness is another story.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

CANADA is awesome!

Happy 146th, Canada! God keep our land glorious and free!