Case in point: Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has re-iterated his support for giving police the power to administer random breathalyzer tests to motorists:
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says he wants to give police the power to conduct random roadside tests to catch impaired drivers, but he intends to consult with his provincial counterparts before he puts forward a proposed new law in Parliament.
Random breath testing, if adopted, would replace Canada's 40-year-old legislation on impaired driving, which dictates police can only administer Breathalyzer testing if they have a reasonable suspicion of drunk driving.
Justice officials have been weighing the pros and cons of random testing for more than two years.
The debate centres around whether the initiative, which has proven internationally to be the most effective deterrent that exists to curtail drunk driving, would be a justifiable violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.
"The government shares the committee's concern that there has been an increase in deaths caused by impaired drivers in recent years and its determination to strengthen the Criminal Code provisions dealing with this crime that kills and injures thousands of Canadians every year," Mr. Nicholson said in his one-page response to Ed Fast, justice committee chairman.
I've blogged about this before, but here it goes again: a government has crossed a line when it empowers the police to search citizens without just cause for suspecting that a crime has occured. One of the bedrock principles of justice in western democracies is the assumption that citizens are presumed innocent until proven guilty. This new policy would stand that fundamental principal on its head; police will assume every motorist is impaired unless proven otherwise.
And before liberal bloggers jump all over this, it should be noted that this proposal has all-party support - there isn't one party of the four in Parliament that would not support this change.
This potential violation of our civil rights is being justified on the basis that it will save lives, since "progress in nabbing drunk drivers has stalled in the past decade". Well, that's the price we're going to have to pay to live in a free society. Minister Nicholson should be embarrassed.