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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Justice minister supports violating civil liberties

Sometimes its tough to be a libertarian in the Conservative Party of Canada - it often seems that they like to out-Liberal the Liberals in concocting schemes to increase the government's intrusion into the lives of citizens.

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.


Anonymous said...

It is not acceptable to give this kind of authority to the police. I believe that the entity that once started as a outlet for a grieving mother, MADD, has become way too large and has lost its way. They have become a corporation similar to the WWF and Greenpeace and are in this to make some massive salaries. They way they are pushing this it seems they will not be happy until zero liqour is available in Canada.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with anony1.

The police already have sufficient powers, and we have quite sufficient laws in place.

If you're not sufficiently inebriated enough to cause suspicion then your driving is not likely being impacted by your current state.

There are so many problems with current statistics that one can not legitimately infer anything from them.

First, the stats include every contributing factor in accident causes. So if a driver has had a drink, was going 5 K over the limit, and has an older car with summer tires hits another car that runs a red light, then that accident is counted as:
1.-due to impaired driving
2.-due to speeding
3.-due to improper tires
4.-due to improper maintenance (old car)
5.-due to a moving violation (running the red light)

The reality is that neither increasing the penalties for drinking and driving or for speeding will prevent most of the accidents caused by drunks or by massively excessive speed. Those drivers don't consider the possible implications of their actions or even the possibility of being caught. They'll do it anyway. If any one thinks increasing fines or more restrictive laws have any impact on these people then please explain why so many are caught driving without a license or insurance over and over.

The reason drinking and driving accidents are decreasing elsewhere (particularly Europe) is because of peer pressure and the unacceptability of impaired driving in those countries.

And before all of the MADD moonbats jump on me, just be aware that a) I have a degree in traffic engineering, and b) lost a family member to a 3-time drunk driver.

Anonymous said...

freedom in canada will soon cease to exist. canadians are fools to accept this intrusion into their lives.

Martin said...

I am not sure there has been an increase in deaths due to impaired driving.My impression is that Canadians have made massive changes in attitudes to drinking over the past generation. The problem is caused by a tiny fraction of people, driving while 2 to 3 times over the limit.
MAAD has trouble accepting this, and constantly calls for tighter limits, more convictions etc. Legislation should not be dictated by single interest lobbies, no matter how noble their goals.