Last week, the Alberta Court of Appeal struck down one of the most odious laws of the Alison Redford era – amendments to the Traffic Safety Act that gave police the power to seize driver’s licences at the roadside from any motorist charged with impaired driving.
Right then and there. At the checkstop. No call to your lawyer. No appearance before a judge. Just – whoosh – it’s gone.
The premise behind the law – you’re guilty until you can prove yourself innocent – was bad enough. But as we learned during the trial, provincial bureaucrats (and presumably Redford) supported the concept of “reverse onus.” That exposed a dangerous lack of understanding by bureaucrats of the rights of the accused and the purpose of our justice system.
The internal Justice proposal behind the law also exposed – once again – what a disaster Redford was. The internal report was written while Redford was Justice Minister, before she became premier.
The report that led to Bill 26 claimed that accused drunk drivers were increasingly challenging their charges in court because an impression had developed in the province that alleged drunk drivers could get off on technicalities.