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okanaganlakebc.ca feel that some inmates of prison who are capable of learning,
should be subject to being taught how they ended up in prison to start with.
Instead of calling it prison per se, prisons should be called social justice
needs teaching facilities where inmates have teachers. Child abuse
teachers, drunk driving teachers, theft teachers, etc.
On the other side of the coin, the public needs to be educated about why people
do these things and there should be a study to find out why, so that we can all
learn how we can help stop these things from occurring in the first place.
It would be fascinating to find out how these situations occur in the first
place. There is a lot to learn from every instance. What is the
inmates background.. that is the most important to understand.
“Prove it” can mean something completely different from one
courtroom to the next if one courtroom is hearing a criminal case
and the other is hearing a civil one.
The court requires criminal charges to be
proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
In other words, if the judge or the jury hearing the case has any
reasonably held doubt about whether or not you committed a crime,
they must acquit.
This helps prevent the horrible injustice of wrongful convictions.
In a non-criminal case, there is a very different “standard of
An innocent victim is not required to prove anything beyond a
Instead, if you imagine the iconic scales of justice, the innocent
victim must tip the scales ever so slightly in his or her favour.
I am not a historian, but perhaps the difference has to do with the
notion that the risk of undercompensating an innocent victim is
equally as unjust as the risk of providing more than fair
In the context of going up against a powerful insurance company to
force fair compensation out of them in court, I would venture to say
that the risk of less than fair compensation is in fact the more
In a civil claim, the court must typically
consider what is “more likely than not.”
The common defence tactic is to do whatever they can to cloud the
issues and raise doubt which is enough to avoid a criminal
conviction but is not enough to avoid fairly compensating a civil
There is one aspect of a civil claim that requires even less than a
“more likely than not” level of proof, and there’s good reason for
This aspect has to do with gazing into the crystal ball to try to
predict future events.
A trial often occurs four to five years after the crash that caused
It is far easier for the court to look back over those four to five
years and assess the dollars and cents you have “more likely than
not” lost than it is to gaze into the crystal ball to figure out
what you might lose in the future.
You may have been able to soldier on and work through your pain with
very little, if any, income lost up until the date of the trial; but
are you going to be able to continue doing so for the rest of your
Is it fair to say that “the past is an indicator of the future” in
the context of working through a chronic pain condition?
How could you possibly “prove” future losses?
When considering a future loss, the court applies a different test.
The test for future losses is whether or not there is a “real and
substantial possibility” that the loss will occur.
This test was applied last year by the highest court in British
Columbia in a case called Morlan v. Barrett.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal was dealing with the defence
appeal of a trial decision.
Ms. Morlan, age 50 at the time of the trial, had been suffering
chronic pain during the approximately four years between the crash
and the trial, but had been able to work through her pain and adjust
her employment situation to avoid losing any income at all during
that period of time.
In awarding a substantial amount of compensation for future income
loss, the trial judge relied in part on what he described as a
“common experience” that a person with a stable but persistent
energy-draining condition will find it more difficult to continue
working as he or she grows older.
The defence, on appeal, argued that there was no evidence to support
The Court of Appeal disagreed with the defence, noting “…throughout
each and every day of her life, Ms. Morlan would have to cope with
some level of discomfort.
In my view, it was open for the trial judge to find—essentially as a
matter of common sense—that constant and continuous pain takes its
toll and that, over time, such pain will have a detrimental effect
on a person’s ability to work, regardless of what accommodations an
employer is prepared to make.”
How’s that for a victory of justice? Hard working, honest people who
a e to soldier on through their pain in the short term really can be
fairly compensated for their potential future losses because “prove
it,” when considering those potential losses, is
a standard that can be met
essentially as a matter of common sense.
Guiltenane, Coordinator - re: Crime Stoppers Program Update
Gerry Guiltenane addressed the committee, providing an update on
• Crime Stoppers Board consists of 13 board members.
• 2013 wrapped up of 25 years of operation in the Central
• There are two paid positions for the program.
• Another successful year for a number of their community
programs: unsolved crimes, Kelowna's Most Wanted, mug shots,
tips from the public - web-based and text. • Over $10 million in
drugs were seized last year.
• Working with UBC-O on some website development to improve the
look and functionality of their website.
• Major event - 'fit for defence' - an anti-bullying program in
the school district
• Annual golf tournament funds go to pay for rewards and
operation of society.
• One of the most successful programs has been the mug shot
• Over 300 tips so far this year. 14 wanted persons arrested to
date this year.
-The question was raised regarding what type of funding are you
looking for the 'Fit for Defence' program? $40,000. Crime
Stoppers funding is no longer available so the program will stop
but the Society continues to look for opportunities to fund the
-Are we scratching the surface in drug seizures? Treading water!
What is the current drug of choice:
marijuana is the easiest
to get, but heroin and crack cocaine are the most prevalent
drugs in the Central Okanagan
-School liaison officer program in schools very critical.
-Are you working on a gang defence program? This program does
work in some school districts. There is a significant amount of
work done in the school district:
bullying, social media, gangs, drugs, etc. There is a
significant concern in our school district, as well as
-Is there something at the Board level that can be done to help
make a difference?
The School Liaison Officer funding is
vital. It was noted that School District No. 23 has a safe
schools committee. It is important to understand their role,
what is being done, and the connection with the school board.
THAT the Crime Stoppers Program presentation be received for
AND FURTHER THAT the School District be invited to a future
meeting to provide information on its school crime prevention
programs including: anti-bullying program, Fit for Defence,
school liaison program.
Director Findlater noted that the District of West Kelowna council are
considering various resolutions for this years' SILGA convention (tiered funding
for future federal gas tax funding; authority for regional
districts to adopt bylaws as municipalities can for dealing with grow-op houses;
provincial wide noise bylaw).
RCMP Superintendent, Bill McKinnon shied away from a debate on the
decriminalization of marijuana.
During his quarterly update before Kelowna City Council Monday,
McKinnon was asked to comment on a growing movement to decriminalize
Mayor Walter Gray asked the question of the superintendent stating
several Okanagan communities including Lake Country, Vernon and
Armstrong have taken a stance supporting the 'Stop the Violence BC'
"Are you able to say anything as our Commander In Chief here in
Kelowna about a position you may have or advice you may want to give
council with respect to eventually landing on a position one way or
another?," asked Gray.
"I enjoy my job so I think I'm going to steer clear of that one as
our job is to enforce laws that are present," McKinnon replied.
McKinnon did state further that simple marijuana possession is not
high on the detachment's priority list.
"Having said that, I will tell you that I don't think you could give
me an incident where we have charged anyone for simple possession of
marijuana here over the last 12 months," says McKinnon.
"The grow-op scene, that's entirely different, but in terms of
straight possession of marijuana, it's not our practice to be out
McKinnon says issues in schools are a different matter altogether
and there are protocols in place to deal with that.
'Stop The Violence BC' have joined the growing movement asking the
provincial government to tax and regulate marijuana in an effort to
end gang violence and make communities safer.
Kelowna City Council was not one of the eight communities to sign up
with the organization, however, Gray says council has asked that a
public dialogue start by getting the issue on the floor of the UBCM
Convention in September.
B.C. Justice Mark McEwan severely stomps the practice of making
civil litigants pay thousands of dollars for their day in court
After two years of deliberation, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark
McEwan has struck down Victoria’s hefty civil court hearing fees as
In the landmark 178-page ruling released Tuesday, Justice McEwan
declared “some things cannot be for sale” and slammed the provincial
government for its approach to legal funding.
“The court is an essential forum of that common life, and cannot
perform its necessary function if it, like so much else, is subject
to the values of the marketplace the government has used to justify
the fees,” he wrote.
The government charges litigants $500 a day starting on day four of
a trial and $800 a day after day 10.
This constitutional throw-down arose from a typical family custody
matter and the ruling could have far-reaching effects.
In this instance, a single woman pleaded that she should be spared
the fees after losing a custody trial.
The legal tug of war with her ex-partner started in 2008 when the
43-year-old woman decided to return to Europe with her five-year-old
It cost her more than $20,000 in lawyer’s fees just to get to the
eve of trial.
She then was forced to litigate herself because she couldn’t pay the
lawyer to appear in court.
Her husband, a University of B.C. instructor, also represented
himself at the 10-day trial. Neither is happy: This expensive system
failed them both.
At the end of the proceedings, the woman asked Justice McEwan to
waive the $3,600 she owed in court fees.
But the judge said that unless she was declared indigent, he had no
power to give her a break without declaring the fees
At that point, he decided to hear arguments about their legitimacy.
“A person who cannot afford a fee of $100 or $200 may properly be
described as indigent, that is, as being ‘destitute,’ ‘needy,’ ‘in
want,’ ‘poor’ or ‘necessitous’ as the dictionaries define the term,”
Justice McEwan said.
“It is an awkward word to use to describe a middle class family’s
inability to pay a month’s net salary for the two-week ‘rent’ of a
Ironically, the three-day constitutional debate would have added
$1,872 in fees.
Justice McEwan’s decision means the woman will not have to pay the
hearing fees and puts in jeopardy the revenue the government reaps
from them — about $2 million a year — if it does not appeal.
At the time of this litigation, the fees started at $156 for a
half-day hearing and rose to $624 a day after 10 days.
Justice McEwan said this amounted to the government imposing a
barrier to access to the judiciary and “this creates a
constitutionally untenable appearance of hierarchy.”
He went on to say: “It is evident from the sources presented that in
the last two decades the government of B.C. has lost its enthusiasm
for supporting the courts at a level required to fulfil their
Justice McEwan added that the breadth and implications of the
economic and constitutional material he considered led to the
“unusual delay” in producing the impassioned ruling that reviewed
centuries of legal history.
The decision’s effects will be substantial — lawsuits over the
tragic 2006 sinking of the Queen of the North ferry, for instance,
were abandoned in part because of the hurdle posed by $40,000 in
fees and jury costs.
The public may not be an active participant in a private dispute
between litigants, but Justice McEwan said it has an abiding and
important interest in every case.
The outspoken jurist called the fees a “bad idea” during 2010
But no one expected him to so severely stomp the practice of making
civil litigants pay thousands of dollars for their day in court —
controversial levies that Victoria vigorously defended.
“Wow!” said lawyer Darrell Roberts, of the Trial Lawyers Association
of B.C. who made submissions in the case.
“This is wonderful. I was never expecting this. He’s done a great
job. We won.”
The Canadian Bar Association’s B.C. branch, which also participated
in the case, celebrated too.
“Justice McEwan has declared hearing fees unconstitutional and in so
doing found that the fees, which escalate to over $600 per day, are
an impediment to the courts for all but those who are well-to-do,”
said Stephen McPhee, past president.
“This decision reaffirms that the courts exist for both the rich and
the poor, those with small cases and those with large cases.”
Reasonable fees may be charged for services, but Justice McEwan said
civil litigants don’t have to pay the exorbitant hearing-day costs
that Victoria argued had been a part of British justice for half a
He said the attorney-general’s approach to financing the courts
revealed “a significant misunderstanding by the government of its
responsibilities under, and the limitations on, its constitutional
Fees for time in court that put a price on or acted as a barrier to
justice could not be allowed to stand nor could any “legislative
constraints designed to limit access.”
“Support for the civil courts is not seen as a cost of good
government but as a discretionary expense to be minimized,
amateurized (no legal aid), or privatized, wherever possible,”
Justice McEwan archly wrote.
He pointedly quoted from the recent book — What Money Can’t Buy, the
Moral Limits of Markets — saying the “marketization of everything”
is not good for democracy, “nor is it a satisfying way to live.”
Given the current tension between the judges and the executive
branch, his much-anticipated decision is even more pertinent and
germane than when the arguments occurred.
The government had argued that the English and Welsh civil systems
today are completely financed by user fees.
In this province, Victoria said, court fees predate Confederation.
But B.C. hadn’t collected hearing-day fees since before the First
World War and the present levies were imposed only in 1998.
The only other Canadian jurisdictions imposing hearing fees (though
at much lower levels) are Saskatchewan, Yukon and the Northwest
Victoria insisted the fees were intended to make the court more
efficient and trials less lengthy.
But the Trial Lawyers criticized the exorbitant and escalating
tariffs, saying Victoria was robbing the needy.
Roberts, who represented the lobby group, said the fees were
The bar association said the fees made it impossible for people of
modest means to have their day in court, and disproportionately
blocked first nations, the disabled, immigrants, lone parents and
women from access to justice.
At the end of the last century, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court found
similar hearing fees that increased with the length of the trial
The four member municipalities of the Inter-Municipal Services
Advisory Board - Kelowna, West Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton - are
continuing their work on common municipal issues including transit
governance, the Okanagan Basin Water Board and environmental
The board is made up of the four municipal mayors and chief
On Friday, April 20, Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray, Vernon Mayor Robert
Sawatzky, West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater and Penticton Mayor Dan
Ashton met to plan ahead for the rest of 2012.
“By continuing to work together, the four municipalities are able to
address areas of mutual concern, which will be a benefit to all the
citizens of the Okanagan Valley,” says Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton.
In the past, that has included agreement on a common Safe Premises
bylaw to handle properties found to be
cultivating illegal drugs, the launching a Bylaw Dispute
Adjudication System and lobbying for continued support of the
Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of the RCMP,
dedicated to organized crime activity.
This time around, the group discussed partnership opportunities with
BC Transit, which is considering implementing a three-person panel
to work with municipalities on planning.
The Mayors agreed that larger centres would like to work in tandem
with its provincial transit partner, making the panel available to
assist smaller centres with planning.
The group also noted it is looking forward to the Okanagan Basin
Water Board’s strategic planning session scheduled for early June,
and would call on municipal peers at the coming Southern Interior
Local Government Association (SILGA) convention in Revelstoke to
offer the OBWB suggestions and recommendations for consideration
during its planning process.
Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton also broached the topic of environmental
permitting issues relating to the reconstruction of streamside
infrastructure, such as dike systems.
The City of Penticton will take the lead on the matter, writing a
letter to senior government to review the lengthy and often costly
process required before municipalities are able to conduct needed
Mayors Gray, Sawatzky, Findlater and Ashton signed two joint letters
at the meeting: one to Premier Christy Clark seeking funding support
for private landowners for forest fire mitigation and the other to
the Union of BC Municipalities seeking a change in how funds are
allocated under the Gas Tax Agreement.
Ongoing concerns that impact all member municipalities were also
discussed, including enforcement of lakeshore zoning regulations and
the RCMP policing agreement.
Inter-Municipal Services Advisory Board meetings are held quarterly
and alternate between municipalities. The four mayors represent more
than 80 per cent of the Okanagan’s population.
The Tory crime bill being imposed on Canadians is anything but
With a majority government, the Harper Conservatives have indicated
that they now have electoral support for their agenda of
dramatically increasing Canada’s prison population. Justice Minister
Rob Nicholson told the media on Sept. 20 that his government has “ a
strong mandate to move forward” on this plan.
Close attention to relevant data – or even basic arithmetic – does
not appear to be a hallmark of the current government. Slightly less
than 40 per cent of Canadian voters cast their ballots for the
Conservatives in the federal election earlier this year, and only 61
per cent of eligible voters actually made it to the polls. The
reality, then, is that the Conservatives – and many of their
policies – appear to have the support of less than 25 per cent of
But let’s put aside their misplaced attribution of popular support.
What of the crime bill itself? There are a few positives here, but
let’s look at just two elements that will cost us billions of
dollars over the next five years, mostly in the form of new prison
construction and the associated costs of incarceration.
First, the Conservatives have proposed an end to conditional
sentencing (commonly known as house arrest) for a wide range of
crimes. Theft of over $5,000 worth of goods and breaking and
entering are two of the more prominent of these offences.
Conditional sentences have, to date, significantly reduced rates of
incarceration and saved tax dollars, without any corresponding
reductions in social safety. In fact, study after study has revealed
that incarceration imposes significant harms on most offenders,
typically increasing risks of further involvement in crime. The
Harper government simply believes that the evidence on these points
is irrelevant – that the morally appropriate response is to impose a
greater (and more expensive) measure of pain on those who commit
Even more costly and bizarre, given the fact that a majority of
Canadians support the decriminalization of cannabis, is the
Conservatives’ plan to punish anyone who grows six marijuana plants
or more by imprisoning him or her for a minimum term of six months,
irrespective of whether that person has employed any violence in his
or her operations. (An
RCMP study of marijuana cultivators reveals that less than 10
per cent of those apprehended are engaged in any kind of violent
Why take such apparently mean-spirited approaches, particularly when
crime is declining, and when there is no credible evidence that
these initiatives will reduce crime? The price tag – at least $2
billion over the next five years – forces us to realize that this is
not a fiscally conservative approach to the problem. We all want
more social safety, but these initiatives won’t get us there.
Instead, the Conservatives are prepared to spend billions on
policies that have long been discredited, and that have no hope of
any tangible return on investment.
The best answer is that this debate has very little, if anything, to
do with evidence. The Harper Conservatives believe in punishing
crime, even if the costs of their efforts reduce Canadians’
accessibility to health care and education. Their policies on crime
are simply a window into their emotional and ideological worldview.
With a majority in place, the Conservative government now has the
opportunity to tell us what it really thinks – or, more to the
point, to impose its ideologies on the rest of us. As interim
Liberal Leader Bob Rae has said, the sad reality is that it will be
left to future governments to clean up the mess that the
Conservatives are creating.
The Missing Women Inquiry opened Tuesday to blunt accusations that
both Vancouver Police and the RCMP badly bungled their
investigations, letting serial killer Robert Pickton murder several
more women after he should have been caught.
Cameron Ward, the lawyer representing 18 victims' families at the
inquiry, called the conduct of both forces "inexcusable and
In an opening statement to the inquiry, Ward said dozens of women
vanished "right under the noses" of the VPD in the Downtown Eastside
and were murdered under the noses of the Coquitlam RCMP on Pickton's
Port Coquitlam pig farm.
"The families of the missing women are absolutely outraged by what
happened in the handling of this case," Ward said. "They believe the
authorities are culpable in the deaths of over a dozen women because
the authorities' negligence enabled Pickton to literally get away
with murder for more than five years."
He said the families believe the VPD, RCMP and B.C.'s Criminal
Justice Branch all have the blood of the victims on their hands,
outlining a litany of errors.
High on Ward's "list of wonders" of how police "botched" their jobs,
is the fact Pickton in 2000 walked into the Coquitlam RCMP
detachment and offered to let them search his farm but the Mounties
turned him down, even though plenty of evidence by then pointed to
him as the prime suspect.
"They don't bother," Ward said. "We know the remains are there. We
know after 2000 many more women are murdered there. It's literally
Police had an even earlier chance to stop Pickton in January 1997,
when he handcuffed and attacked a sex-trade worker in his trailer,
but the badly bleeding woman fought back, escaped and survived.
He was arrested and charged with attempted murder, forcible
confinement, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon but all
charges were stayed in early 1998 amid questions about the
credibility of the drug-addicted victim.
Why the case was dropped will be a key area of the commission's
It took a rookie RCMP officer, acting on a tip about illegal guns,
to get a search warrant for the farm in February 2002 that uncovered
ID of missing women and finally led to Pickton's arrest that month
for murder and triggered the massive 18-month forensic search of the
property for DNA of the victims.
Ward said he will also want to now why it took until 2004 – seven
years after the 1997 incident – before the RCMP finally tested the
clothing and other items seized from him then and discovered the DNA
of two of the missing women.
The lack of action in Coquitlam was all the more surprising, Ward
suggested, because RCMP there "must have been intimately familiar"
with Piggy's Palace, the Picktons' after-hours nightclub just down
the road from the farm that Ward said was frequented by Hells
Angels, off-duty police and city officials.
Police also had tips, the inquiry heard, in 1998 from Surrey
resident Bill Hiscox who suspected Pickton was killing the missing
women. Hiscox told them Pickton had women's purses and easy methods
of disposing of bodies.
They'd also been tipped by at least three people in 1999 that addict
Lynn Ellingsen witnessed Pickton slaughtering a woman in his barn.
She initially denied it when questioned but ultimately testified at
trial, helping convict Pickton.
Despite all that evidence, Ward said, Pickton was able to keep
taking women from the Downtown Eastside to his farm, killing them
and butchering them – "unhindered and unmolested by the police" –
until his arrest in February 2002.
The DNA of 33 missing women was found on the farm.
Pickton was convicted in 2007 of killing six of them but had told an
undercover police officer he killed 49.
Commission counsel Art Vertlieb said other questions to examined at
the inquiry include:
- The VPD's handling of missing women reports, including whether
women from the Downtown Eastside were treated differently than those
from wealthier neighbourhoods.
- Allegations a VPD clerk refused help to aboriginal family members
or dismissed reports of missing sex trade workers.
- How well police forces worked together and shared information and
whether a "turf war" within the VPD undermined the early
- Why VPD officials resisted a theory by crime profiler Kim Rossmo
that a serial killer was responsible and refused to warn the
community, insisting that the women were missing but not necessarily
- Whether a lack of police resources and competing priorities in
Coquitlam was to blame when RCMP didn't follow up after an initial
interview with Pickton in January 2000.
"All of this begs the question: Was anyone ultimately in charge?"
The inquiry was supposed to report back by the end of this year, but
Vertlieb is seeking an extension that would see hearings run well
Besides answering the questions of what went wrong and how to keep
it from happening again, families of victims want to know whether
Pickton had accomplices in the killings who are still on the loose.
A man accused of assaulting a police officer, leading police in a
stolen truck chase and dealing drugs has escaped prosecution over
what a B.C. judge calls a scandalous trial delay.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark McEwan acquitted Michael Ellis
saying the consequences of government decisions have seriously
impaired the provincial court's ability to schedule longer trials.
Ellis waited in jail for
while six charges slowly moved forward.
In his ruling released Monday, McEwan noted that Ellis spent so much
of his time waiting for trial that he was already in the range of
possible sentencing for the offences, if he had been found guilty.
Ellis was arrested March 2009 in Kettle Valley, in southeastern
B.C., after he allegedly rammed a police officer's vehicle with a
stolen pickup truck.
Dozens of cases have been thrown out of provincial courts over the
past several months because a lack of judges and court staff has
delayed getting the accused to trial.
The Conservative government is using its majority muscle to push
through Parliament a massive crime bill that provides harsher
penalties for pot growers than pedophiles.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the legislation, made up of nine
bills that were introduced in previous years, "is an investment to
better protect Canadians in their homes and make them feel safer in
But just how large an investment, and how it will impact crime
levels, remain open questions.
Joe Comartin, the NDP justice critic, said the bill is an uncosted
hodge-podge of measures that include the good, the bad and the ugly.
"If you're a mid-level trafficker in drugs, including marijuana, you
can get up to 14 years. If you're the same person but you sexually
assault, rape, a baby, you can only get up to 10 years," said
New mandatory minimum sentences are also harsher for drug crimes, in
some instances, than for sexually assaulting a child.
"That's right in this bill," said Comartin.
Tough new laws on Internet luring of children and grooming children
for sexual purposes are supported across all party lines, said the
NDP critic, and could have been passed before last spring's election
if the Conservative-dominated Senate had acted more swiftly.
No one appears to have a firm grip on how much the new crime
measures will cost. Prison expansion, new corrections officers,
additional court resources and the six-figure price tag for
incarcerating a prisoner for each full year all add to the bottom
Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page said Tuesday there are big
expenditures that are starting to happen, but he has not seen a
price tag for the overall plan, something he says Parliament and
Canadians need to know.
Page estimated that, based on the pieces of information he's cobbled
together, the cost of the government's tough-on-crime agenda is
upwards of $3 billion.
"What we would like to be able to do is track the spending quarter
by quarter, relative to the overall plan, but we don't have that
overall plan in terms of what that aggregate cost will be," he said.
Conservative MP Larry Miller made a pitch based on the legislation's
gut appeal, stronger penalties for child sexual exploitation.
"I'll tell you, Mr. Speaker, as a grandfather of a six- and
three-year-old granddaughter, this means a lot to somebody like me,"
said the rural Ontario MP.
"The stronger the laws we can make to protect our children and the
vulnerable, it shouldn't even be a question as to support for this
Comartin later noted that he, too, has grandchildren.
"The difference here is we could have that law in place so Larry
Miller and myself and other people who are really concerned about
our kids could see that (exploitation) law in place in the next few
weeks, as opposed to four or six months, which is what it'll take if
we keep it combined," said the New Democrat.
The Conservative government is flexing its majority muscle, forcing
an early vote in Parliament on a massive crime bill that critics say
will send Canada down the route of the failed U.S. war on drugs.
A vote Tuesday in the House of Commons limited debate on the omnibus
legislation to two days before punting it to a
Conservative-dominated committee for what is likely to be a
"They're going to impose the guillotine no matter what," predicted
Thomas Mulcair, the NDP House leader.
The bill includes nine separate pieces of legislation that previous
Parliaments failed to pass, including several highly contentious
• Barring anyone with more than three indictable convictions from
ever being allowed to apply for a criminal records pardon.
• Setting new, mandatory, minimum sentences
for growing six or more marijuana plants, among other drug offences.
• Centralizing and politicizing control over the transfer of
Canadians imprisoned abroad back to Canada.
New Democrats want those elements of the bill taken off for separate
debate, while fast-tracking measures in the legislation that would
toughen sentences for crimes against children, enshrine victims'
rights in parole hearings and increase the good-behaviour waiting
period for pardon applicants.
But the Harper government does not appear to be in a mood to
"The fact is, while the Opposition continue to look at ways to delay
or obstruct these important measures, Canadians gave our government
a strong and clear mandate to continue making our streets and
communities safer," Pamela Stephens, a spokeswoman for Justice
Minister Rob Nicholson, said in an email.
Rookie Conservative MP Mark Strahl was more blunt in a posting on a
social networking site: "We're just delivering
on campaign promises. Get used to it."
The costs of imprisoning more people, for longer periods of time,
have not been fully explained by the government, nor has the full
cost of prison expansion been detailed. Lawyers and criminologists
say the new laws, particularly the drug provisions, will require
more court resources due to more charges and less plea bargaining.
Critics say many of those additional costs will be borne by
And how much do 65 officers cost ... likely thousands! Why don't they just
legalize drugs? People do drugs legal or not!
File # 2011-09-07
2011-09-07 12:30 PDT
While police across the province remain on alert following the
murder of Jonathon Bacon on August 14, 2011, Kelowna RCMP Major
Crime Section and Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit-Gang Task
Force investigators have formed an investigative alliance to address
potential issues stemming from the incident.
To date, intelligence and information indicates that tensions
amongst rival gangs have increased exponentially since the Kelowna
shooting and it’s no longer a question of if retaliation will occur,
but when. The potential for a violent reprisal is not restricted to
any one community, and can occur anywhere at anytime.
Uniformed and plain clothes Gang Task Force officers, assisted by
their counterparts from Surrey RCMP, Vancouver Police Department and
Abbotsford Police Department have joined forces to continue to
identify, and target, individuals and groups that may be involved in
any retaliatory violence.
Several key individuals and groups have been identified at the core
of the conflict, and investigators are aggressively focusing on
those that are, or those who may become involved. Any offence,
regardless of statute, will be vigorously investigated and
Supt. Tom McCluskie, who heads the Gang Task Force, says “our
primary objective is, and always has been, the safety of the general
public. The wanton and callous disregard for the safety of innocent
bystanders was clearly demonstrated during the Kelowna incident and
we as the police, must do everything we can to prevent further acts
of violence and retaliation”.
The Gang Task Force has assigned 65 officers
to the tensions arising from the Kelowna shooting, and those
officers are working around the clock following leads and collecting
intelligence. “We are not slowing down and these gang members have
to know that the streets of BC are not theirs and our officers will
make that message very, very clear to them”, said Supt. McCluskie.
Investigators know that there are individuals in our communities who
have information that would prevent further violence, and are urging
them to come forward. Information can be relayed to the Gang Task
Force through their local police agency or anonymously through
Crimestoppers, at 1 800 222-8477.
Kelowna's loose noise bylaw could become a thing of the past.
A proposed new noise bylaw would make it illegal for boats to run
louded than 85 decibels.
City Council will look at a new noise bylaw Monday which, if
adopted, would set decibel limits for motorcycles, car stereos and
The proposed bylaw, crafted from a current bylaw in Edmonton, would
set the ceiling at 92 decibels for motorcycles at idle, 96 decibels
when motorcycles are up to speed, 90 decibels for car stereos and 85
decibels for boats.
Fines are expected to be set at $500 for Bylaw Offence Notices and
$1,000 for Municipal Ticket Information.
Kelowna RCMP would be in charge of enforcement utilizing existing
City Clerk Stephen Fleming, who put together the legislation, says
the bylaw wouldn't come into effect until the RCMP are able to
purchase the required number of sound meter kits and provide
officers with the necessary training.
The kits are estimated to cost about $2,300 each.
According to Fleming, the RCMP have the required funds already
In his report to council, Fleming says motorcycle sound levels are
based on a standard established by the Society of Automobile
"The standard has been reviewed, evaluated and supported by both the
Canadian Motorcycle and Moped Industry of Canada and Transport
Canada," says Fleming.
He adds that automotive traffic is between 60 decibels and 90
decibels, so, it is suggested, a car stereo should not be at a level
higher than most automobile traffic.
"The proposed sound limit for boat noise is 85 decibels when the
boat engine or engines are at any speed greater than idle. This is
based on federal Maritime Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
that considers sound in a workplace louder than 85 decibels to be
In 2010, Fleming says Edmonton Police issued noise related tickets.
RCMP Superintendent, Bill McKinnon, suggested back in June that the
city look at adopting the Edmonton bylaw saying current rules at the
provincial level concerning excessive noise are woefully inadequate.
Email from the Farewell Foundation August 17, 2011
Greetings Members and Supporters,
Today, the BC Supreme Court denied Farewell Foundation standing in
its civil claim against the Attorney General of Canada. A key issue
for Madam Justice Lynn Smith was our commitment to the anonymity of
our members and their personal health information. Despite this
hurdle we remain committed to taking on the challenges for your
right to the option of self-chosen death.
Our Two Options for Continuing:
Intervene in the BCCLA case
Madam Justice Smith was highly respectful of the important issues
that we raised. She encouraged us to file an application to
intervene in the BCCLA’s trial in November, which addresses common
legal ground. We will do what Madam Justice Smith suggested and we
will seek her approval to intervene, to introduce evidence, and to
cross-examine witnesses. Given Madam Justice Smith’s comments, we’re
optimistic that our application will be approved at our next court
appearance, September 2nd.
A key reason to intervene in the BCCLA case is to inform the court
about the less restrictive Swiss model and to argue that self-chosen
death should not be unduly restricted to physicians. In our last
announcement, it was noted that the BCCLA seeks very restrictive
“physician-assisted dying.” Farewell Foundation wants a wider range
of options for assistance and our research shows that demedicalized
self-chosen death, as it is in Switzerland, is a safe, effective,
and accountable option.
A New Civil Claim with Publicly Identified Members
If any members wish to discuss the possibility of being publically
identified in a new civil claim, contact me by email or telephone.
If and when a Farewell Foundation member is prepared to be
publically identified in court, a new civil claim may be filed. To
gain standing, this member must be facing a life threatening
condition or a serious disability and the member would want the
option of assistance with self-chosen death from Farewell
Thanks to you all for your ongoing support and commitment to the
right to autonomy and self-determination. Below this message are
some links to today’s news reports.
Do you remember the movie named
"Who's life is it anyway", it was a really good movie.
Set in a hospital room, the action revolves around Ken Harrison, a
sculptor by profession, who was paralysed from the neck down
(quadriplegia) in a car accident and is determined to be allowed to
die. Clark presented arguments both in favour of and opposing
euthanasia and to what extent government should be allowed to
interfere in the life of a private citizen. In portraying Ken as an
intelligent man with a useless body, he left the audience with
conflicting feelings about his desire to end his life.
Brian Clark (June 2, 1932–) is a British playwright and
television writer, best known for his play ‘’Whose Life Is It
Anyway? which he later adapted into a screenplay.
Their tune is changing!!!! Notice what it says under the 12 hour
suspension heading? A direct copy and paste:
If you are licensed under the GLP (Learner or Novice) and are
stopped by police while having the care and operation of a vehicle
and police suspect you have any level of alcohol in your body (they
may or may not request a breath
sample into an approved screening device) – you will receive an
immediate 12-hour driving suspension for alcohol impairment. Police
will take your driver’s licence and you may not drive until the
suspension period is over and you have retrieved your licence from
the police station.
Here they are saying that a police officer MUST begin with a section
90.3 if they suspect a novice driver to be drinking and
driving......as I have been saying all along!
They still have an error
where they say (they may or may not request a breath sample into an
approved screening device) as section 90.3
REQUIRES a breath sample taken, in order to be issue a 12 hour
suspension according to Section 90.3(3):
(a) a driver, without a reasonable excuse, fails or refuses to
comply with a demand made under subsection (2) (b), or
(b) the peace officer, pursuant to an analysis of the breath of the
driver under subsection (2) (b), has reasonable and probable grounds
to believe that the driver has alcohol in his or her body,
Then, under the 12 hour roadside suspensions (other consequences)
Blood alcohol content between 0.05 and 0.08 – if you register a
blood alcohol content in this range or are impaired by drugs, you
will face the regular consequences fully-licensed drivers face. See
Driving While Impaired page on this website.
Again, this is what I've been saying all along!!! If the novice
driver registers between .05 and .08 , nail them with a 24 hour
prohibition!!!! But this happens ONLY after a breath sample is
taken!!! My point....exactly!
The OSMV is now agreeing, according to their website, with my
thinking regarding suspected drinking and driving and novice
drivers. This webpage states that an officer must begin with section
90.3 in their investigation of a novice driver....then CONTINUE on
with "regular consequences that fully-licensed drivers face." A
novice driver cannot get a 12 hour suspension or a 24 hour
prohibition without a DEMANDED breath sample.
Giving a novice driver a 24 hour
prohibition WITHOUT a demanded breath sample is/was incorrect
application of section 215 of the MVA.....or improper procedures.
Now...some of you may think that this is coincidental....but
I believe that my "campaign"
had a bit or a lot to do with this.
Even if I didn't have anything to do with this....this change is for
the good...the way it is supposed to be.
Class action litigation has been launched in the Supreme Court of
British Columbia on behalf of all persons who suspended from driving
(normally by a 90 day roadside driver’s prohibition for alleged
impaired driving without criminal charges), and suffered other
penalties and costs arising from an approved screening device,
administered under the automatic roadside prohibition regime
(pursuant to s.215.41 of the Motor Vehicle Act (RSBC 1996 c.318)),
registering a “fail” reading.
This action claims damages
against the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles and the Attorney
General of the Province of British Columbia for inter alia breach of
s.8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Regime
infringes on the Charter because it inter alia authorizes a search
by a screening device on the basis of reasonable suspicion and
imposes lengthy prohibitions and significant costs and penalties on
motorists, without providing motorists with any meaningful basis to
challenge the validity of the search results.
The provincial government had advance warning from a senior official
several weeks ago that cuts to the number of sheriffs guarding court
houses could spark trouble in the justice system.
In a May 31 letter to B.C.'s chief justices, copied to the deputy
Attorney General, Assistant Deputy Minister Rob Wood noted full-time
staff levels in the court services branch had already been cut nine
per cent since 2008/09.
"These fiscal changes have made it progressively more difficult to
maintain operational service levels in both court security and court
administration," Wood said.
Deeper cuts took effect at the beginning of June and Wood's letter
set out minimum service levels for court registries and sheriffs,
including a system of roving sheriffs to spread staff further.
Wood's letter indicated the number of court clerks has also been cut
and the ministry would respond by reassigning court registry staff
to act as clerks as needed.
He cautioned those levels would not be sustainable for long.
Wood also noted it would be up to judges to gauge the security risk
and decide if they can operate without a dedicated sheriff using the
"The safety of all court participants is of paramount concern," he
"We will do everything we can, in consultation with the judiciary,
to ensure the most important matters go forward and that the safety
and security of the courts and court users is maintained."
The elimination of the equivalent of 34 full-time deputy sheriffs
caused delays in several trials last month when some judges refused
to let their trials proceed without a sheriff present.
By late June, Attorney General Barry Penner – after hearing directly
from judges about their security concerns – pledged to reverse the
cuts to sheriffs' hours.
But the cut hours have not been permanently restored and are only
being scheduled a week at a time so far, said Dean Purdy, spokesman
for the union representing sheriffs.
"We're concerned that they're so keyed into the budgetary side of
things they're going to let the court system slide rather than truly
fund the system," he said.
Purdy said two of the most senior managers in the system are
currently filling in for sheriffs in Victoria because of the lack of
"You can't do justice on the cheap," he said, adding the province
needs to hire more sheriffs to reverse some of the loss of more than
100 positions in recent years.
The NDP lashed the province for allowing "chaos" in the courts to
continue and failing to find a permanent solution.
“It appears that when making this announcement, the Liberals were
primarily interested in temporary damage control, not returning
security to our courts so they can function again,” NDP Attorney
General critic Leonard Krog said.
Penner said he doesn't want the shortage of sheriffs to result in
trial delays and added his ministry is working to find more money to
support staffing levels on an ongoing basis.
He said the auxiliary and part-time sheriffs whose hours were cut
had always been called out as required.
"They will be utilized as required," Penner said. "The safety and
security of our courthouses and the people in them remains our
He said most government ministries remain under pressure to cut
costs and streamline processes as a result of health and education
spending that has risen faster than government revenues.
A Westbank woman has joined a lawsuit aimed at
giving Canadians the right to physician-assisted suicide.
Gloria Taylor, 63, was diagnosed with ALS, popularly known as Lou
Gehrig ’s disease, 18 months ago.
Taylor said as a long-time believer in an individual’s right to
decide when to end their life, she wanted to be part of the B.C.
Civil Liberties Association’s challenge to Canada’s assisted suicide
“I will die with dignity,” vowed Taylor, whose condition is
terminal. “When we win (the legal challenge), all Canadians will
have the right to die with dignity if they are terminally ill.”
Taylor said she considered launching her own legal challenge last
year but did not know where to start. So, when she heard about the
BCCLA lawsuit, launched in April, she wanted to be named as a
plaintiff in that case.
On Tuesday, she petitioned the B.C. Supreme Court to have her name
added to the lawsuit.
Taylor said her condition has been deteriorating and at a news
conference in Vancouver Tuesday, said her doctors have said she has
a year left to live.
Despite her condition, she has a walker, as well as a motorized
wheelchair, and tries to walk a little every day, refusing to allow
her condition to rob her of her remaining mobility. She said she has
lost the use of her hands but overall is doing as well as a person
with ALS can expect. “I thank God for every day I have left,” she
told the Capital News.
Despite the pain she faces all the time, Taylor said she is
determined to help others win the right to die with dignity. And she
is doing so with another well-known Canadian right-to-die advocate
Eighteen years ago Victoria’s Sue Rodriquez, another ALS sufferer,
unsuccessfully petitioned Canada’s Supreme Court for the right to a
physician-assisted suicide. The court ruled against Rodriguez’s
request by a slim 5-4 margin. Four months later Rodriguez died at
her home with the help of an anonymous physician. No one was ever
charged in her death.
Taylor said she is carrying the torch lit by the Victoria woman. “In
my mind, Sue Rodriquez was a hero,” said Taylor. “Eighteen years ago
it was defeated by just one vote (the 5-4 ruling). This time we are
going to win.”
The case is currently before the B.C. Supreme Court and if denied,
it would have to go to the B.C. Court of Appeals before a possible
return to the Supreme Court of Canada. Taylor said she hopes the
case does not have to go that far. But if it does, she is prepared.
“I have a plan B,” she said about her plans to end her life on her
Here is a letter that I have put together to send to anyone that is
interested. It is quite similar to a previous email I have sent you
regarding the 24 hour prohibition and the novice driver in BC. I am
actually quite upset about the way the Office of the Superintendent
of Motor Vehicle has no one to answer to except for the Supreme
Court of BC, which is a minimum $2500 venture. The more I have
researched this, the more I realize that the 24 hour prohibition is
an INVALID charge or violation to be given to a novice driver. I
plan on sending this to all papers in BC, lawyers or anyone that
will listen. Perhaps then, the OSMV and the government will listen.
I would love to create a class action suit against this, but the
costs are far beyond my means at this point. But who knows...if
enough people agree with this......who knows. Here is a copy of the
Incorrect Procedures by Police Agencies in BC.
Please, as you read this, keep in mind my respect for the police and
the job they have to do. My respect for the OSMV , who also has an
important job in protecting the public while driving, is starting to
falter though as they only have to answer to the Supreme Court of BC
and this has allowed certain things to get out of control.
Let’s first go over why Section 215 of the MVA (Motor
Vehicle Act), the 24 hour prohibition was legislated. The 24
hour prohibition was designed as a tool for police to use on the
roadside to take drivers that have been drinking, but not impaired,
off the road to protect the public. If an officer has reasonable and
probable grounds to believe that the drivers ability to drive is
affected by alcohol, that officer can issue a 24 hour notice. This
does not require a roadside test, and can be based on observation by
the officer. Quite a bit of power, the officer now becomes judge and
jury. Those that created Section 215 realized this and put a
subsection (section 215(6)) that protects “civilians”. Subsection 6
allows the driver to ASK for a roadside test to prove that he/she is
under the legal limit of .05 in BC. If it is proven that the driver
is under the legal limit of .05, the prohibition is terminated and
he/she is allowed to drive. Below is what is written on the reverse
side of the 24 hour notice given to you by the officer:
“If a blood alcohol test was NOT administered and was not a basis
for serving this notice, you have the RIGHT to forthwith request a
test to determine your blood level. In the event the test indicates
that your blood alcohol level does not exceed 50 milligrams of
alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, the prohibition from driving is
terminated. The prohibition will not appear on your driving record
and you will be allowed to drive.”
This is a great “balance” and protects a driver from an unwarranted
24 hour prohibition that may occur resulting from an officers
incorrect assumption. This section of the MVA works very well for
the job it was intended to do. This section, in its entirety, also
describes a driver that is ALLOWED to drive with a BAC of .01 to
.049, which is NOT a novice driver in BC.
A side note to this section.
Police are NOT required to mention the fact that the driver can
request a roadside test to prove innocence. I guess we
are all supposed to know the MVA , as would a lawyer perhaps. Sure,
it is written on the reverse side of the notice, but who reads the
back of the ticket until the police officer has left? Who might have
trouble reading the grey lettering on blue paper in low light? Who
would read it while they are dealing with the officer? A pretty
slick way of issuing a ticket that is uncontested at the “scene”.
You know what is very ironic? Many officers I have talked to in my
fact finding missions, didn’t even know section 90.3 existed, for
whom it was designed and it application! Why is this ironic? These
are the same officers that expect civilians to know the MVA and
realize the right to ask for a roadside test!
Now we introduce the Graduated License Program in BC. Within the GLP,
we have a class of drivers called Novice drivers. These novice
drivers are held to higher standards and lower penalization levels
than “regular” drivers and as such, points, prohibitions etc result
in harsh (so it should be) driver sanctions. License suspensions of
3 to 4 to 12 months are applied if certain conditions are met. When
the GLP came into effect, legislation was also written to
“accommodate” drivers within this program. One piece of legislation
that was enacted is Section 90.3, the 12 hour suspension. This
section was written to deal specifically with drivers that are
prohibited of having ANY alcohol within their system while driving.
Yes, this IS a description of a novice driver! Zero tolerance!
When a police officer begins his investigation into the drinking and
driving of a novice driver, they must begin with section 90.3!
Section 90.3(2b) requires the officer to demand a breath sample to
PROVE that there is alcohol within the novice drivers system before
issuing the 12 hour suspension. PROVE! Why is this so important?
Because of the penalties and ramifications that will occur to a
novice driver, a possible 4 month license suspension for instance!
With proof, these ramifications are justifiable, without proof, they
are not. A 12 hour suspension cannot be issued by the police based
on observation alone as with the 24 hour prohibition. Evidence is
required, therefore the demanded breath sample.
So why are police departments still giving 24 hour prohibitions to
novice drivers as a first step in their investigation? Having gone
over what the two sections were designed for, I will bring up some
points that SHOULD make everyone question this.
1) In its entirety, the 24 hour prohibition describes a driver that
is allowed to drive with SOME alcohol in their system. This does NOT
describe a novice driver. So, how can the 24 hour be issued to a
2) The 12 hour suspension carries the description of the novice
3) The 24 hour prohibition is designed to take a driver off the road
for 24 hours. Remember, this can be based JUST on the officer
“thinking” the driver has alcohol in their system. When it is
applied to a novice driver, it does not just take the driver off the
road for 24 hours. It will result in a license suspension of 1 month
or longer, NOT what is the intent of this section!
4) The 12 hour suspension WAS designed to penalize the novice driver
IF it is PROVEN that the driver has alcohol within their system
while driving. First with a roadside license suspension, then with a
driver sanction applied by the OSMV.
The Superintendent and our government are conveniently allowing this
to slide under the radar. Appeals by novice drivers on their 24 hour
prohibitions are denied by the OSMV with the following statements:
”Based on the evidence before me, I am satisfied that you had the
right to request that the peace officer administer a test of your
blood alcohol level”
“Based on the evidence before me, I am satisfied that you did not
request the peace officer administer a test of your blood alcohol
First of all, how many people actually know they have that right?
Did you? Secondly, if a novice driver does ask for the test, and
blows below .05, is he/she allowed to drive? This is key….allowed to
drive, as stated as a right on the 24 hour notice just handed to
them. If the officer DOES let the driver go, it is in contradiction
to BC legislation of zero alcohol tolerance and a novice driver. If
he doesn’t let the driver go, and with volunteered evidence, now
decides to issue a 12 hour suspension, three things come to mind.
First of all, to me, it’s an admission to not using the correct
charge to begin with. Secondly, evidence that a person voluntarily
gave to prove innocence in one charge, is now being used against him
in a second charge. Kind of a catch 22 isn’t it? Mmmm…..do I prove
myself innocent in this charge, and possibly prove guilty in
another? Isn’t this a constitutional issue?
Section 11 of the
Canadian Charter Rights and Freedoms does not permit us to
self-incriminate ourselves. Thirdly, if that driver cannot be
allowed to drive from that scene as a result of the investigation
into drinking and driving, the right on the back of the 24 hour
prohibition means “diddly squat”!
Questions that I have and would like answers for:
1) Why is the OSMV, part of OUR government, standing by police
agencies giving 24 hour prohibitions to novice drivers when it
appears to be unlawful or constitutional?
2) Why don’t officers let the drivers know about the right to ask
for a roadside test? Could it be that many of the 24 hour
prohibitions, whether issued to a novice or regular driver, would
not, or could not be completed? This right is VERY important in this
situation, and should be told to the driver, and the police should
make sure the driver understands this right as this is the same
right that the OSMV uses against you as a denial for any appeal of
the 24 hour prohibition.
3) Can you ask for a roadside test 2 hours after the police have
left, once you’ve read the ticket? Of course not, and it’s a little
late…but that’s when most drivers would get a chance to read or find
out about their right.
4) How many unwarranted 24 hour prohibitions are given every year
because of these incorrect procedures by the police? Both to regular
and novice drivers?
5) How much money does the OSMV bring in from appeal fees, which
they conveniently rubber stamp as denied, in dealing with 24 hour
6) How has it been allowed to let a section of the law, the 24 hour
prohibition, morph into something that it isn’t, or was NOT intended
for? It was intended to get a driver off the road for 24 hours, not
to be used as a tool by the OSMV to suspend drivers for 4 months!
7) Why is the only way of fighting the decisions of the OSMV by
going to the Supreme Court of BC? This venture will cost you a
minimum of $2500, a tough pill to swallow if you are innocent!
8) A simple question….why was section 90.3 enacted in the first
place then? Why not just continue to use section 215, the 24 hour
prohibition? Was it because the 24 hour prohibition does not address
the situation of the novice driver?
You will hear it said many times that driving is a privilege. If a
person fulfills the medical, capability and responsibility
qualifications needed to be a driver, does not that person then have
the right to drive? I believe that we do have the right to drive, as
much as we have the right to walk in public. And as such, we must be
protected of our rights. Nothing has to be re-written, only
procedures changed. If the police would begin their investigation of
a novice driver and drinking and driving with section 90.3 (as it is
designed for) there would be no issues. If the police would be so
kind as to remind the driver of their right to request a roadside
test, there would be no issues. Then the OSMV can do their job with
Harry would love to receive some feedback from
people in regards to this.
(a) is a resident and does not hold a resident hunter number card
issued under the regulations, or
(b) is a non resident under 18 years of age, or a non resident alien
under 18 years of age, unless the person is to be accompanied by a
licensed guide or a person who holds a permit under section 70,
must not apply for or be issued a hunting licence unless he or she
complies with the regulations and has successfully completed
examinations on conservation, outdoor recreation and safety approved
by the director.
(2) If a person referred to in subsection (1) applies for a hunting
licence for the first time following successful completion of the
examinations referred to in that subsection, the person must apply
(a) a government agent, or
(b) a person employed in an office of the ministry.
(3) Despite subsection (1), a hunting licence must not be issued to
a person who is under 18 years of age unless a parent or guardian
applies for the licence in person and signs a written undertaking
that the parent or guardian will not
allow the son, daughter or ward to hunt or carry a firearm unless he
or she is accompanied by and under the close personal supervision of
a person who is 18 years of age or older and who holds a hunting
Disgraced RCMP Const. Geoff Mantler has had his RCMP paycheque
Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet
Kelowna RCMP Superintendent, Bill McKinnon.
Mantler, who faces both criminal charges and an internal RCMP Code
of Conduct investigation, was suspended without pay effective last
Friday, May 27.
However, his legal counsel will continue to be funded publically
pending a review by the Commanding Officer of E Division.
Kelowna RCMP Superintendent, Bill McKinnon made the announcement
Mantler was originally suspended with pay, January 10, after he was
caught on tape kicking Buddy Tavares in the face during an arrest.
"Stoppage of pay and allowances was approved for Const. Mantler on
the rationale that the allegations of misconduct against him are so
serious that they require a greater response than the suspension
alone," says McKinnon.
"I realize that this decision has been a long awaited one for Mr.
Tavares and the general public and I appreciate your patience. This
incident and these past few months have been difficult and I
recognize the impact it has had on this community. Despite this, I
want to ensure that members and employees of the Kelowna Detachment
remain very much dedicated to their jobs and performing to the
standards that the citizens of Kelowna, the management of the RCMP
and I expect."
He says the suspension of pay is not a form of punishment but,
rather, a temporary measure to protect the integrity of the RCMP
while awaiting the outcome of both criminal and internal
The decision to suspend Mantler with pay was made at headquarters in
Ottawa following a recommendation by the RCMP Commanding Officer in
The RCMP have been taking heat from the general public for not
coming to this decision earlier.
While not commenting directly, McKinnon, as a member of the
community, says, "I'm glad an announcement was finally made."
McKinnon says Mantler does have the right to appeal the ruling and,
if successful, he would receive his pay retroactive to the day it
Mantler, charged with two counts of assault causing bodily harm, is
scheduled to appear in court again June 21.
His previous three court appearances have been postponed while his
lawyer seeks more time to pour over more than 2,000 pages of
Someone wrote in by email June 2011 and said they wanted us to post this
for them, and we were glad to help out. This is more than
interesting, its informative, and it may just help someone.
ASK FOR A
In my research on my son's 24 hour prohibition
case, I have come across this site and wish to leave a
comment. It is in regards to 24 hour prohibitions and drivers in the
GLP, or novice drivers.
As you know, novice drivers are NOT allowed to have any alcohol in
their systems and drive. NONE. I back this 100%. But here is my
problem, and the reason I believe the RCMP cannot firstly invoke a
section 215 (24 hour prohibition) when investigating drinking and
driving with a novice driver.
If a police officer pulls over a "regular" driver, and, due to
observation and having reasonable and probable grounds, can give the
driver a 24 hour prohibition. They
are not required to mention to the driver that they have the right
to REQUEST a roadside test to prove that they are below .05, the 24
hour "lower limit". You, as a civilian, are supposed to know
the Motor Vehicle Act, Section 215 and KNOW this. Not many people I
know are that conversant on the MVA, and in my mind should be told
about this "right". At the "scene", you are supposed to read it on
the back of the 24 hour notice, in the dark perhaps, and if you have
the time. Here is what it reads:
“If a blood alcohol test was NOT administered and was not a basis
for serving this notice, you have the RIGHT to forthwith request a
test to determine your blood level. In the event the test
indicates that your blood alcohol level does not exceed 50
milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, the prohibition
from driving is terminated. The prohibition will not appear on your
driving record and YOU WILL BE ALLOWED TO DRIVE.”
Notice the last 6 words? Allowed to drive? Yes, if a regular driver
blows, at his request, below .05 (safe), they are allow to drive.
This is a safe guard put into place to protect us civilians (under
section 215, you are actually guilty until proven innocent). If I
know I'm under, and undeserving of the 24 hour, I will request. But
here is the kicker. What if this driver is a novice driver who is
not allowed ANY alcohol in their system? Technically, if this driver
asserts his rights as written on the back of the 24 hour notice, he
would have to be let go. What?? A novice driver being allowed to
drive with alcohol in their system?
There is a section of the MVA, 90.3 , that
deals specifically with novice drivers and drinking and driving. In
that section, a roadside test MUST be done to prove alcohol within
the novice drivers system. If below .05, a 12 hour suspension
is mandated, over .05 a 24 hour prohibition and over .08, regular
impaired driving sanctions will apply. In that section, police
officers MUST demand a roadside test IF they suspect alcohol within
a novice drivers system. According to that section, they CANNOT just
give a 24 hour prohibition based on observation alone with a
suspected drinking novice driver.
Another angle. Here is a link to the Office of the Superintendent of
Motor Vehicles of BC.
Under the GLP drivers consequences you will notice that, by the OSMV
directive, they face (not may face, but face):
a 12 hour immediate roadside suspension!!!
If the police hand out a 24 hour (which is unlawful as the FIRST
step, in my mind anyways), how can the OSMV enforce this? They
Now, what if the police officer that tried to serve a 24 hour to the
novice driver, (the driver requests to blow, clearing themselves of
the 24 hour prohibition), then tries to serve the 12 hour suspension
instead? Well, in my mind, this is unconstitutional. Why? Well, the
driver would be self incriminating themselves.
Section 11.c of the Canadian Charter Rights and Freedoms say that
"evidence" given in one case by a person cannot be used in another
case to incriminate that person. Remember that request to
blow? That is voluntary evidence, evidence that proves me innocent
of one charge/case...the 24 hour prohibition. That same evidence
cannot be used in the next charge/case...the 12 hour suspension.
Notice that its a 24 hour PROHIBITION and 12 hour SUSPENSION. These
are two different "things" other than the length of time.
Prohibition means you still have a license, but are prohibited from
driving. Suspension means you don't have a license!! Two completely
I have talked to a number of RCMP members locally, and I was quite
surprised. 90% of them DID NOT know what section 90.3 was, or even
existed! These are the same officers that expect we civilians to
know our right to request a roadside during a 24 hour issuance.
For police officers protection, and proper dealings with a novice
driver, police MUST invoke section 90.3 FIRST, then move on to
further driver sanctions if the right BAC level is PROVEN!
Otherwise, there is a loophole for novice drivers IF the novice
driver is below .05 and requests a roadside test.
Thank you for listening!
Thanks for writing in to okanaganlakebc.ca asking us to post
this informative information, hope it helps.
Kelowna RCMP making changes to how they deter people from drinking
Officers used to sit in bar and pub parking lots trying to stop
people from getting behind the wheel drunk, but Superintendent Bill
McKinnon says no more.
"With everything where its at and bar owners crying that they're
loosing millions of dollars in this province because of it. We've
made a conscious decision here to say, we don't need to be there.
We're going to park up the road and I'll make no bones and I've told
every bar owner that we're just going to be up the street then,
we're not going to be in you're lot."
McKinnon recently met with bar and pub owners who claimed officers
were scaring away potential business by hanging out in parking lots.
He adds officers were being proactive in stopping people from
getting behind the wheel wasted or catching people driving drunk by
sitting outside in the lots.
Members will continue to conduct road checks and bar walks.
Samiran Lakshman is president of the B.C. Crown Counsel
A drunk driver with his young son in his car nearly hits two police
officers and a bystander at the side of the road in Prince George,
but is not held accountable for his actions.
A hunter from Merritt is caught poaching protected big horn sheep
near Williams Lake, yet never faces consequences.
A Victoria-area man shoots a puppy belonging to a 12-year-old cancer
survivor, is charged with animal cruelty, and ultimately goes
These are real cases recently thrown out of court in B.C., allowing
those accused of crimes to walk free.
The reason? Unacceptable delays stemming from chronic provincial
government underfunding of the legal system, including courts,
judges, prosecutors, support staff and legal aid.
An estimated 2,000 additional criminal cases still stuck in the
system have already been delayed so long, they are at risk of being
thrown out as well.
And there's no end in sight.
So clogged are the courts – particularly in Surrey – that judges are
increasingly outspoken in denouncing the logjam and lack of
resources that threaten the integrity of the entire system.
"The backlog is so great and the courts so crowded that in many
cases there will be an unreasonable delay should there be even one
adjournment on a trial date," warned Surrey Provincial Court Judge
Peder Gulbransen last November, as he threw out the prosecution of
an impaired driver who waited 32 months for a trial date.
"Justice delayed is justice denied," ruled Judge Ronald Webb last
year, in staying the case in Cranbrook against an accused cocaine
dealer who waited more than two years for a trial expected to take
just three hours.
Another troubling example is that of an alleged child rapist in
Coquitlam whose trial never went ahead because the system apparently
couldn't afford to translate victims' statements quickly enough so
the accused could understand them. Police requests for funding for
the translations had been denied and the trial was repeatedly
"It is very disturbing that the value of the complainants' sexual,
physical and emotional integrity is less than the cost of
translation and transcription," Judge Marion Buller Bennett ruled
She ordered the multiple charges of assault, assault with a weapon,
sexual assault, incest and sexual touching of a young person be
dropped after a two-year wait.
The judge called it "a tragedy" for all, including the accused – a
man who was publicly identified but had no chance to clear his name.
The case is now being reviewed by B.C. Representative for Children
and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, who called it a "very grave"
"I'm very concerned about these delays," she said in an interview.
"You can see the alarm bells being raised in multiple places in
British Columbia in the court system."
But judges' hands are tied.
They are bound by Supreme Court of Canada rulings that firmly limit
how long cases can be prolonged before the constitutional right of
the accused to a fair trial has been violated and a stay of
proceedings must be entered.
Defence lawyers can't deliberately drag their feet to get a case
In deciding a delay is unacceptable, judges count only the slowdowns
attributed to the system itself or Crown-requested adjournments.
They must also conclude the defendant was harmed in some way by the
But B.C.'s case backlog now leaves virtually no room for any kind of
error that could cause delay.
Some cases are quashed after as little as 14 months, and the
applications become much harder for the Crown to fend off when the
accused has waited more than 18 months.
In Surrey, a typical one-day impaired driving trial is now being set
for July of 2012 – an immediate 16-month time period that puts the
case close to the cusp of being tossed from the start.
Year-long-plus delays from the outset are now common at many
courthouses around the province.
The judges themselves tabled a damning report last September titled
"Justice Delayed" that warned "thousands of cases are at risk" of
being dropped due to too much time elapsing between charges being
laid and an accused's day in court.
At that time, there were 17 fewer provincial court judges on the
bench than in 2005 – a 12-per-cent decrease.
B.C. is the only province in Canada where the number of sitting
judges decreased over that period, despite a growing population,
rising caseload and increased complexity of many trials.
Coupled with inadequate numbers of Crown prosecutors, court clerks
and sheriffs, the report said, the available court time to handle
cases is down significantly and is unable to keep pace with the
In Surrey alone, the report said, it would take three more full-time
judges hearing criminal trials for two years to reduce wait times to
Since those findings, there's little sign of improvement.
Six new judges have been appointed since October 2010, but others
retired so the net increase is just two positions.
Front-line prosecutors, lawyers and court staff believe that's
insufficient to stop the deterioration of the system.
"The situation has gotten worse, undeniably," said Samiran Lakshman,
president of the B.C. Crown Counsel Association. "It's becoming more
dire as the days go on."
Despite the extra judges, the number of adult criminal cases older
than 18 months in the system climbed from just over 2,000 last fall
to more than 2,100 by February, 2011.
Trials aren't just lined up far into the future but also stacked
three and four deep on the same day – dates that Judge Webb called
Staff shortages aren't the only problem. Physical courtroom space is
in short supply in many areas, a result of the government's 2002
decision to close 24 courthouses, including ones in Delta, Burnaby,
Hope, Maple Ridge and Squamish, increasing the load on neighbouring
Major criminal trials involving organized crime – such as the
"Surrey Six" murders or the UN Gang prosecution –aren't expected to
be lost to delay.
But Lakshman warns time-intensive mega-trials suck up vast amounts
of resources for courts, police and prosecutors, leaving less time
to dispense justice for more run-of-the-mill criminals.
He argues any money saved by the province through justice system
austerity is a false economy, considering the money blown bringing
accused criminals to court but not quite to trial.
Cases are being terminated after police have conducted a full
investigation and submitted charge recommendations. After Crown has
read the file and approved charges. After charges have been sworn in
court. And after many appearances before a judge, prosecutor, clerk
and sheriff – often with various witnesses waiting to testify.
"It's a complete waste of money," Lakshman said. "It adds lunacy on
top of a ridiculous situation."
jnagel "at" surreyleader.com
Lack of sheriffs adding to court system delays
By Kevin Diakiw
Following a B.C. government-imposed hiring freeze, the number of
sheriffs in this province has dropped by almost 20 per cent in
recent years, forcing some judges to close court sessions.
Last January, three judges in Victoria cancelled the day’s agenda
because there were not enough deputy sheriffs on hand.
“This isn’t the first time that’s happened. It’s happened in
Nanaimo, it’s happened on other occasions,” said Dean Purdy, chair
of Corrections and Sheriffs Services Component of the B.C.
Government Employees Union.
“Courts are being delayed and justice is being delayed.”
Over the past few years, Purdy says a hiring freeze has been invoked
by the province, causing a 17-per-cent drop in the number of
available sheriffs in B.C., from 520 to 430.
Because of that, vacancies in court are being filled with
corrections officers for extra security.
In three separate courthouses in the Fraser Valley, where there are
high-security gang trials being held, Purdy said they’ve had to
bring in corrections officers to provide back-up in court.
“They’re just getting by by the skin of their teeth,” Purdy said.
“Delays in our already crowded courtrooms is a problem. They’re
already backed up enough and adding to that is just an ongoing
B.C.’s Criminal Justice Branch has since hired 24 auxiliary
sheriffs, but Purdy said there will have to be more.
Court cases are becoming more complicated and more dangerous,
particularly with the number of accused gangster trials coming up.
The union has been calling for metal detectors at each of the
courtrooms, as is done in Alberta.
Purdy also estimates another 50 to 100 sheriffs will be needed to
keep court proceedings moving.
That would require an annual investment of about $5 million.
While there’s been no firm commitment, the fact judges are shutting
down proceedings due to the absence of a sheriff has the
government’s attention, Purdy said.
“Nothing was done until we reached the critical point we’re in now.”
Delays in the courts leave abused women waiting longer and facing
more pressure from families to return to violent spouses.
Hateful words gradually became hurtful blows.
She endured weeks of it before summoning the strength to walk out
the door and turn to the police, transition houses and courts for
Punjabi-speaking counsellors and police officers were supportive and
she prayed for a quick resolution, knowing she would face enormous
pressure from her husband's family not to shame their son.
But months later, after numerous court adjournments, frustration and
tears – but no trial – she gave up.
She went back to her abusive spouse.
Sad stories such as this are becoming more common in B.C.'s
congested justice system.
Spousal assault cases are high priority and aren't at risk of being
thrown out due to excessive delays like many impaired driving cases
and some other criminal prosecutions.
But advocates say the time to get to trial is getting longer.
And the wait can spawn tragic consequences.
"When it's delayed for a long time, normally we lose our victims,"
Surrey Women's Centre program manager Maryan Majedi said. "They go
back to their husbands. They get repeatedly assaulted. It's like a
Domestic abuse cases are supposed to move through the courts within
But in Surrey and some other B.C. centres, that time period often
stretches to four or six months.
And Majedi notes that's after time has elapsed for the police to
investigate and prosecutors to approve and lay charges – often
bringing the wait for a trial to a year following the assault.
Court delays are particularly difficult for South Asian women, said
Manbeen Saini, a community-based victim services worker in Surrey.
"The family is wanting her to drop charges, not even understanding
that she can't do that," Saini said, explaining that prosecutors
decide to pursue legal action. "The longer it stays in the court
system, the more pressure she's going to get."
And when battered women give up on the courts, Saini said, it's
"They say they're never going to the police again," she said. "I
hear it all the time.
"So what message are we sending out? What justice is this?"
Longer delays for all sorts of court proceedings are the result of
cuts in the number of provincial court judges in B.C., coupled with
shortages of sheriffs, clerks and other support staff.
Samiran Lakshman, president of the B.C Crown Counsel Association,
calls the situation a "deliberate" and "systematic" stripping of the
critical resources the justice system needs to function – a policy
that increasingly exacts a human toll.
Prosecutors worry not just that abused women will go back to violent
partners, but also that memories of sexually abused children will
fade, their testimony will be less persuasive, and offenders will go
Families are also waiting longer for the courts to decide matters
such as which parent will have custody of the children, finalizing
divorces and setting child support payments.
"It's heartbreaking for the parents of children in foster care,"
said Kamloops family lawyer Brenda Muliner.
She represents a couple in Nelson fighting to regain custody of
their children who were apprehended by child protection workers in
It took a year and a half to get a date for trial to decide
permanent custody – September 2011 – by which time the kids will
have been in government custody for four years.
"It's staggering," Muliner said. "And it's going to get worse."
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s Representative for Children and
Youth, is also concerned.
"These delays are really tarnishing the reputation of our justice
system for British Columbia's families," she said.
Child protection workers from the B.C. Ministry of Children and
Family Development can knock on a door and remove children from a
home based on evidence that is often disputed.
That power exists, Turpel-Lafond said, on the understanding parents
have a speedy right to challenge the removal, with the courts either
upholding it and issuing a temporary custody order or else returning
wrongfully apprehended children.
Child protection applications are supposed to be heard within three
But Turpel-Lafond said the average wait in B.C. is more than four
months and she's aware of waits of eight months and longer at courts
in Surrey, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Prince George and parts of
New hearings in those areas are being scheduled in 2012 – and those
are in best-case scenarios where parents quickly obtain legal aid,
another major trouble spot.
"We're dealing with a system that makes a mockery of that timeline,"
"Childhood is short. It's 988 weeks. If you spend 50 weeks waiting
for a hearing because you can't get a court date, that is just
Families sometimes give up and move on, she said, and the child
falls permanently into the custody of government.
In custody battles between parents, Turpel-Lafond said, delays mean
child view reports – which guide the court on how much time kids
want to spend with each parent – are often a year out of date when
the hearing gets to court, by which time children's wishes may have
The need for speed may be just as important when youths are charged
Consequences of actions simply aren't as meaningful for young people
if it takes a year or longer to get to trial, she said, calling the
youth criminal justice system "remarkably backlogged."
The victims of youth crime are often other young people, who also
end up waiting longer for closure.
Provincial court judges have recently signalled family court delays
have grown unacceptable and have directed a shifting of court time,
which could come at the cost of criminal matters.
In other words, even more delays.
Even animals are paying the price for congestion in the courts.
Family and friends of 12-year-old cancer survivor Max Rose were
outraged last month when the man who shot and killed the boy's Jack
Russell terrier puppy Seymour walked away unpunished.
The case was thrown out of Campbell River court when the judge ruled
the 19-month delay before the case went to trial unreasonably
violated the rights of the accused.
"It's pretty upsetting," father Nick Rose said. "We're getting a
first-hand look at our legal system and it's pretty pathetic."
Animal cruelty investigators seize abused pets and charge owners in
cases of maltreatment. If convicted, the law allows a potential
lifetime ban on animal ownership.
But officers are often unable to stop those accused of cruelty from
acquiring more animals or abusing others in their care while a case
grinds through the system toward an eventual trial.
"The time in between you're concerned about other animals that may
be in their custody," said Marcie Moriarty, the B.C. SPCA's manager
of cruelty investigations.
"These delays can literally be life and death for animals."
jnagel "at" surreyleader.com
FACES OF DELAY: MATTHEW HEENAN
Matthew Heenan was crossing a downtown Kelowna street with friends
after leaving a nightclub Nov. 22, 2009 when he was mowed down by a
The 23-year-old Coldstream, B.C. resident was pronounced dead just
over an hour later.
The driver was charged last August with impaired driving causing
death and causing an accident resulting in death.
Matthew's parents, Mike and Jo Heenan, have now been told a
preliminary inquiry won't happen until March of 2012.
They're fearful the case against their son's accused killer will be
thrown out on grounds of the unreasonable delay in getting to trial.
Even if the trial proceeds by fall of 2012, that will be more than
two years since charges were laid – deep in the danger zone where
judges can be compelled to agree the wait has violated the rights of
"We are desperate," Mike Heenan said.
They have appealed directly to B.C.'s Attorney General to proceed by
direct indictment, eliminating the need for a preliminary inquiry –
an unusual step that would normally have to be initiated by Crown
So far, the accused 49-year-old West Kelowna man has spent one day
in jail and had a 90-day driving suspension.
"Our dead son is relegated to a number in the system," Heenan said,
adding Matthew worked at Kal Tire and was about to retrain as an
"Every day this person goes without trial is an affront to our son's
life and our society," he said.
"Every day we are reminded of our son's death and suffer the anguish
of delays and uncertainty. Where is the justice? When can we expect
Do you have a personal story of delay in the court system? Email
BY THE NUMBERS
• 47 courthouses scheduling child protection cases beyond
three-month legislated standard as of mid-2010.
• 5.2-month average wait for a half-day child protection hearing.
• 44-per-cent increase in length of time to get to trial for
half-day child protection cases from 2009-2010.
(as of June 2010, from Justice Delayed report)
Child protection hearings:
• 11 months in Prince George, Vanderhoof (vs three-month standard)
• 9 months in Kelowna, Chilliwack
• 8 months in Abbotsford, Terrace, Merritt
Wait for next available family hearing:
• 11 months in Prince George, Sechelt
• 10 months in Abbotsford, Chilliwack
• 9 months in Surrey, Kelowna
"Over the last year there has been a dramatic increase in the delay
and volume of uncompleted civil, family and child protection cases."
– Sept. 2010 Justice Delayed report of the B.C. Provincial Court
Only a sucker would pay their speeding ticket without a fight now.
That's the street wisdom circulating on web discussion forums where
motorcycle and car enthusiasts trade tips on how to beat their
traffic violation tickets in B.C.'s congested courts.
They point to the case of Michael Podger.
The Kelowna heavy equipment salesman was ticketed by police in
November 2007 for making an illegal lane change without signalling.
He disputed the ticket, but delays in the court system dragged the
case until January of 2009, when Podger – representing himself –
successfully persuaded a judge to toss out his ticket on the grounds
that his right to justice within a reasonable time had been
Since then others – often repeat speeders – have been
boning up on constitutional law to challenge their own tickets.
If it takes longer than 10 months for their ticket dispute to be
heard, they can make a strong case for a judicial stay of
proceedings, citing Podger's case and other rulings as precedent.
It's not necessarily a slam dunk.
Challengers have to prove they were ready to proceed on each
appearance date – in other words it was the system, not their own
foot-dragging, to blame for the delay.
They also have to show they suffered prejudice from the delay. The
judge in Podger's case agreed he experienced stress and was deprived
of three days of pay when he took time off work to prepare his case
and attend court.
Podger was reluctant to be interviewed by Black Press, but said he's
used the delay argument several times to persuade authorities to
cancel his traffic tickets.
He's also coached more than a dozen other motorists on how to use
the case law.
"Most of the time it gets stayed," Podger said. "I'm the only one
that's had to go fight it that I know of."
Surrey lawyer Daryl Brown, who gave him some advice, said Podger is
far from the only driver beating tickets on the basis of
"More people are becoming aware of the ability to make these
arguments," he said.
"You've got guys who aren't first-timers," Brown added. "They've got
a few tickets. And they're looking at losing their licence if they
get any more."
The jam up of traffic tickets is just one more symptom of a court
system in crisis in B.C.
By 2010, an immense backlog of 58,000 disputed traffic tickets had
The Provincial Court of British Columbia, in its Justice Delayed
report, blamed staff cuts at the ticket-processing centre in
downtown Vancouver for the clog, because there aren't enough
employees to input the data and schedule dispute hearings.
Officials at B.C.'s Ministry of Attorney General claim the problem
is in decline, with the backlog easing to 52,000 tickets as of
But ICBC statistics show the number of traffic tickets being
disputed has steadily crept up – from about 11 per cent up until
2007 to 15 per cent in 2010.
More than 75,000 violations were disputed last year – 20 per cent
more than five years earlier.
They add to the pressure on traffic courts, where Justices of the
Peace (JPs) hear most challenges, and also to a lesser degree to the
caseload of regular provincial court judges, who must hear any
challenges based on delay because JPs can't rule on constitutional
"The ministry is aware of the backlog and is considering its options
for ways to reduce it," said attorney general ministry spokesperson
More staff to enter tickets and schedule hearings would help, she
said, but staffing priority goes to the areas of greatest need –
criminal cases and serious civil or family law cases.
ICBC officials note more than 60 per cent of tickets disputed are
upheld in court, although that's down from 68 per cent found guilty
five years ago.
And when ticket challengers win, B.C. municipalities lose out.
Cities get $63 million a year in traffic fine revenues shared by the
province to help with policing costs. Surrey alone receives $5.9
It's not just traffic ticket dodgers who might otherwise take their
lumps and pay up who are emboldened by delays in the system.
Accused criminals and the defence lawyers who represent them
increasingly see a good chance to quash cases based on delay,
particularly when they see their trial date set 16-plus months away
and stacked with multiple other trials on the same day.
There's less incentive to plead guilty – even when the case against
the accused looks air-tight – or accept an early plea bargain offer
from Crown unless it's attractive.
The Justice Delayed report warned the growing case backlog and
lengthening delays mean defence lawyers are more motivated to
proceed to trial because of the potential for charges to get thrown
out over delay and, if the case does go to trial, it becomes harder
to prove older allegations as witnesses become harder to round up or
their memories fade.
"The best defence here is to set the thing for trial," said Samiran
Lakshman, president of the B.C. Crown Counsel Association. "Why
would you plead guilty in that environment? That same type of
analysis and advice is being provided across the province."
Fewer cases being resolved early mean even more pressure is piled on
a system already creaking under intense backlogs.
"It's a bit of a catch-22 for the system," Surrey defence lawyer
Marvin Stern said.
"The system starts using its resources in hearing these delay
Stern said delays have worsened over the past year.
He sometimes shows up to court in Surrey to find his client is one
of four trials slated to go ahead in the same courtroom that day.
Prosecutors then must decide which trial will proceed and adjourn
That can mean another trial date – sometimes the third one to be set
– 20 months or more after charges were laid, a time period that
provides strong grounds for dismissal.
To avoid that outcome, prosecutors may offer a better plea bargain.
Stern gives the example of someone charged with impaired driving and
driving with a blood-alcohol level over 0.08 where another trial
date adjournment will mean the case will almost certainly be tossed.
"They may accept a plea bargain to a charge under the Motor Vehicle
Act of driving without due care and attention," he said.
The driver pays a $368 fine and gets six penalty points but avoids a
possible jail term, a criminal record, a one-year driving
prohibition, mandatory safe driving course and required use of an
ignition interlock system.
"It's a huge advantage to the client," Stern said. "When the courts
are overbooked, Crown are more likely to do that."
Paul Pearson, a criminal defence lawyer in Victoria and local
spokesman for the Canadian Bar Association, said long delays harden
the defence bargaining stance.
But he rejects suggestions defence lawyers and accused criminals are
rubbing their hands in glee over court delays and how they can
exploit long waits.
"Most people charged with criminal offences stress about that every
single day," Pearson said. "It's by far the worst thing going on in
their life. And they want an answer – yes or no, guilty or not
guilty – sooner rather than later."
Lawyers usually aren't paid more money when they have to make many
court appearances, he said, and they must be ready for trial on
"The thousands of people waiting for their trials are agonizing,
losing sleep, literally having nightmares every night about the
process," Pearson said.
"They don't make the news. But they're the ones that are actually
paying the price for the delays in the justice system and the lack
jnagel "at" surreyleader.com
- Range from $81 for driving on a sidewalk to $598 for driving
without insurance. Fines for excessive speeding run from $368 to
$483 and police are also now issuing thousands of $167 tickets to
distracted drivers who talk or text on cellphones.
Legal aid: What happened to justice for all?
By Sheila Reynolds
A middle-aged woman finds herself in the midst of a bitter fight for
spousal support she never anticipated. She can't afford a lawyer,
and turns to legal aid for assistance.
A victim of abuse, her situation is complex, but not as difficult as
the legal maze that has now consumed her life. She's found that
people she thought she could count on to help simply can't, because
of a lack of funding and resources.
"It's systemic discrimination" against those unable to fund their
own justice, she says, adding most in her situation simply abandon
the process because it's so damaging.
Between 2002 and 2005, government funding to Legal Services Society
of B.C. (LSS) – the provider of legal aid – was cut by 40 per cent
and 85 of the legal aid offices in B.C. were closed.
Between April 1, 2009 and March 26, 2010, the society saw funding
cuts to family law, including dispute resolution and category one
criminal law – offences such as breach of probation or failure to
appear. Immigration and refugee law services were also cut.
Some services have since been restored. Five LSS regional offices,
including the one in Surrey, were closed last spring but were
replaced with local agents – private lawyers on contract with the
society. And LAWLine, the LSS's telephone legal advice service, was
replaced with an expanded, province-wide call centre.
But many feel access to legal aid remains insufficient.
Statistics show that in Surrey alone, just over half of the
applications for legal representation for family matters were
approved in the past year, while about 60 per cent of immigration
applications got the go-ahead. Legal aid for criminal and child
protection issues fared better, but applications were still denied
for nearly a quarter of the cases.
Veteran lawyer Leonard Doust says legal aid should be treated as an
Doust, leading the Public Commission on Legal Aid – an independent
group representing six legal bodies – headed a recent inquiry into
legal aid in B.C.
His resulting report, Foundations for Change, released in early
March, summarizes that "the overwhelming majority of submissions
spoke to the general failure of our legal aid system, the negative
repercussions for needy individuals and families, and the consequent
adverse impact on our communities and justice system."
The report suggests federal and provincial funding cuts have left
the system unable to meet basic needs and that it's the working poor
and marginalized people who suffer most.
“It is an absolutely essential social service,” Doust said. “Without
it, people can be, and indeed they are... deprived of the other
essential services in our province, particularly social welfare.
It’s like the four-legged chair missing one leg: It falls.”
In addition to making legal aid an essential service, Doust laid out
eight other recommendations, which included re-establishing regional
aid offices, making more people eligible and giving legal aid
workers better pay and support.
The legal aid system in B.C. has changed dramatically since its
introduction in 1979. While the direction at that time was that
legal aid representation had to be provided to those who couldn't
afford it for some areas of law, the rules were changed in 2001 and
legal aid is no longer mandatory.
For the most part, the Legal Services Society agrees with Doust’s
findings, endorsing the notion that legal aid should be recognized
as an essential public service and that significantly more funding
But the chair of the society also believes a fundamental shift is
necessary in the way legal aid – and those using – is viewed.
Access to justice is often examined from the perspective of judges
and lawyers, says Mayland McKimm, but when seen from the perspective
of those caught up in the system – often against their will – the
view is much different.
"It is essential that we look at the justice system from the bottom
up, not the top down, in order to understand its relevance to the
resolution of legal problems that people face in their lives," the
longtime family and criminal lawyer told members of the Law Society
of B.C. in early March.
What judges and lawyers say is not necessarily what the average
resident and those "ensnared" in the system want to hear, he said.
He said in consultations with more than 100 people, it was found
many legal aid users had more immediate and basic hurdles to get
past – child care, poverty and transportation issues – before they
could begin to worry about getting a lawyer.
For many, especially in remote communities, the biggest barrier to
justice is just being able to get to the courthouse.
"What does it matter if there are more lawyers, or that they all
agree to slash their fees, if a single mother looking for child
support has no one to look after her kids while she's in court?" he
asked, suggesting improving accessibility – like having more
flexible court schedules or daycares in the courthouse – would go a
long way to improving the legal aid system.
A second significant component to access to justice, said McKimm, is
helping people understand how the legal system can assist them and
making them less afraid of the process in general.
This, he said, could perhaps be achieved by integrating legal
services with trusted social services – instead of sending people to
"We were told more than once that arming the travelling community
health nurse, the local social worker, or an aboriginal elder with
information about child protection law or welfare rights – and a
list of who to contact for help – was more important than having a
lawyer available," said McKimm.
Financially, he said, LSS is working on reducing the cost of large
criminal cases so that more resources are available for access to
"If we can lessen the resources – financial and judicial – that the
guns-and-gangs cases eat up, there may well be more resources
available for access to justice initiatives and legal aid," said
"At the end of the day, what people really want from their justice
system is resolution of their problems so they can get on with their
Legal aid, but at what cost?
Leonard Doust’s call to action last month for increased legal aid
services may be applauded by some, but not the Canadian Taxpayers
Gregory Thomas, spokesperson for the federation, said citizens
shouldn’t be on the hook for the $47 million in recommendations
suggested by the Commission on Legal Aid.
“Taxpayers don’t trust defence lawyers to do the right thing with
their legal aid money,” Thomas said. “Look at the B.C. Rail trial –
the two defendants pleaded guilty, but not before seven years of
legal wrangling that earned their defence lawyers $6 million.”
Thomas also quoted the Pickton trial – where the serial murderer’s
defence lawyers billed taxpayers $11.7 million.
“If defence lawyers ran legal aid, we would need to close every
school and hospital in the country, because there would be no money
left for anything else,” he said.
Kelowna Councillors will debate legal medicinal marijuana
grow operations at a future City Council meeting.
Mayor Sharon Shepherd says she has received correspondence
from at least one municipality asking the city to join them
in asking the feds to make changes to the way the medicinal
marijuana program is administered.
"When we had the request from one of the municipalities to
support their concerns I directed staff to bring it forward
on a white page (morning meeting agenda) and council will
likely provide support," says Shepherd.
Several municipalities in the Fraser Valley are speaking up
against legal marijuana facilities and the way the federal
government regulates them.
In most cases, the locations of the legal grow-ops are kept
secret due to privacy laws.
In a story published in The Province this week, Chilliwack
Mayor, Sharon Gaetz, says she believes legal operations have
wrecked houses, started fires and have been infiltrated by
Mayors of Surrey, Langley City and Langley Township have
also lent their voice to the cause.
Last year, Pitt Meadows banned medical marijuana grow-ops.
"Our Superintendent has also had some comments regarding
these, wishing the legislation was different," added
"They get complaints and concerns and don't know they are
classified as a legal grow."
Shepherd agrees federal legislation needs to be changed so
at least there is a recognition of where these facilities
are and how the marijuana is being provided to the
"They should consider giving legal marijuana through
pharmacies rather than home-based marijuana grow-ops."
A group of approximately 100 protesters gathered on the steps of the
Kelowna Law Courts building on Sunday to hear from victims of police
Among the protesters was Buddy
Tavares, who was kicked in the face by Kelowna RCMP constable Geoff
Mantler on January 7, 2011.
"I'm here to support other people who didn't have video taken,
they're fighting a losing battle. It's your word against them --
good luck," says Tavares.
Without the video of his arrest, Tavares says he wouldn't have a
"Everybody is supporting me and they have got my support, I wish
Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd told the crowd she is disappointed by
the inappropriate behaviour displayed by the RCMP toward Tavares.
"I'm disappointed that this situation happened in our community, but
sometimes situations that none of us like result in change happening
a lot faster. You're paying attention and we are as well," says
Shepherd says three primary concerns have been raised: that the
arresting officer wasn't immediately charged, that he is still being
paid despite being relieved of his duties, and why a public board to
hear complaints does not exist.
Shepherd says a resolution will be put forward to City Council on
"We are requesting the
province to have a public board formed that will deal with police
A federal bill has been tabled to deal with this exact issue, says
Shepherd, who has contacted Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to ask
why it has not moved forward.
Rally organizer Darin Howard says locals should learn from
protesters in Egypt.
"We need to let the whole world know we are mad as hell and we're
not going to take it anymore," says Howard, who had predicted that
over 1,000 people would attend Sunday's rally.
"What they're seeing is just the beginning. I am fed up and I am not
going to stop until Constable Mantler is behind bars."
We are all on side about how important it is
to prevent drunk driving.
Sure, there may be debates about what alcohol level is an
appropriate threshold, whether it should be .05 or .08, but
generally speaking, we all agree that drunk people should not be
Equally, we are all on side that laws ought to operate fairly.
What about when those two values conflict?
Section 253(1)(a) of the Criminal Code prohibits having care or
control of a motor vehicle while impaired.
Having care or control of a motor vehicle while impaired is just as
criminal as actually driving a motor vehicle while impaired.
On first blush, that makes a lot of sense. We don’t want drunk
people having care or control of motor vehicles.
I am going to offer you a scenario that might cause you to
What if you are absolutely, fundamentally, totally against drunk
driving to the point that you wouldn’t drive a car even if you had
taken one sip from a beer.
You plan ahead to ensure that you have a designated driver or other
transportation alternatives if you expect to be in circumstances
when you might consume alcohol.
Friends invite you to a house party. You drive yourself to the party
intending to take a cab home.
You call for a cab in the wee hours of the morning, when the bars
are emptying out and cabs are scarce.
The hosts want to go to bed, and you are uncomfortable keeping them
up for the hour you will have to wait for a cab.
You decide to wait in your car. It’s the middle of February, and
it’s cold. You start the engine to run the heater for a while. You
start to nod off, so you lay the seat back. You fall asleep.
An RCMP officer comes by before the cab gets there. Have you
committed a criminal offence?
First of all, this is not a far-fetched scenario.
I happen to have a clear recollection of going to a “barn” party in
Saskatchewan as a teenager and sleeping the night in my car because
I had been drinking and I don’t think I’m unique.
I chose this column topic this week because a local fellow has
had his vehicle
impounded and his license suspended in similar circumstances.
I have also researched case law related to this issue and can tell
you that many people have faced criminal charges in such scenarios.
Back to the question: have you committed a criminal offence?
My answer is it depends.
Judges hearing these cases have interpreted the “care or control”
offence as requiring a consideration of all relevant factors to
determine the risk of danger arising from the possibility of
intentionally or unintentionally setting the vehicle in motion,
including the possibility that you might have changed your mind at
some point, perhaps on the cab never arriving, and chosen to drive
I don’t like having to say “it depends” when it comes to whether or
not certain conduct is criminal.
I also dislike the prospect of people being charged for criminal
offences when they have no idea that what they are doing might be
Did you know that sleeping off alcohol impairment in your vehicle
could result in a criminal conviction?
These dislikes of mine led to this column, to warn about the “care
or control” provisions of the Criminal Code and hopefully prevent
good people from unknowingly putting themselves in situations that
could result in a criminal charge and conviction.
If you are interested in reading a recent judgment of the court
considering this provision of the Criminal Code, email me and I will
send it to you.
This column is intended to provide general information about injury
claims. It is not a substitute for retaining a lawyer to provide
legal advice specifically pertaining to your case. Paul Hergott is a
lawyer at Hergott Law in West Kelowna.
It would be easy to accuse Vernon council of ignoring public safety
after hearing that the number of budgeted police officers has gone
from 52 to 50.
However, that would be more of a gut reaction than reality.
One has to consider that in recent years, the city has directed
considerable financial resources towards hiring additional police
officers and bylaw enforcement officers. Community policing has also
received significant support.
We all remember back to a time when residents and merchants
complained about the extent of crime downtown. Cenotaph Park was
virtually off limits for law-abiding citizens and some employees
were reluctant to walk to their cars in the dark. Times have changed
and while there is still crime, the common perception is that
downtown is a much safer place to be.
The RCMP suggest that shifting from 52 to 50 budgeted officers will
make it challenging to maintain services. However, the city claims
staffing varies from 48 to 51 depending on circumstances and nobody
will lose their job. Which scenario is correct? We will have to wait
It should be pointed out that
two officers cost about
$172,000 a year — that’s considerable when $246,416 equates to a one
per cent tax increase in the city.
Given the impact the recession has created for many residents and
businesses, council must make some difficult decisions as part of
the 2011 budget. No city department got exactly what it wanted.
In the end, though, we are confident the RCMP will continue to
provide the high level of service we have come to expect in the
*These are only snippetts of the 4 pages,
please click link above for entire contents
Dear Mr. Hobson:
Re: Okanagan Correctional Centre - Site
I am requesting your assistance to identify a suitable site for a
secure provincial correctional centre in the Okanagan area.
• The provincial inmate population
is at record levels and is growing. Over the past 6 years,
since April 2004, the remand population has been growing at an
average rate of 93 inmates per year. Over the same period the
sentenced population has grown by an average of 11 inmates per year.
The total population averaged 2,206 in 2004/05. The total in 2009/10
averaged 2,743. This year the inmate population reached an historic
peak exceeding 3,160 inmates.
• Correctional centres are already overcrowded. The provincial
facilities total about 1,500 cells, including some dormitories, so
that typically about 90% of inmates are
double-celled. Many inmates must be held individually due to
court orders or the need to separate those who are prone to
violence, exacerbating the shortage of cells. Additional capacity is
urgently needed to reduce current overcrowding and to accommodate
the growth in the inmate population.
• The Ministry is actively developing additional capacity. In the
fall of 2008, 25 cells were installed in an interim structure at the
Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre. 50 similar cells were also
installed in new structures at the Fraser Regional Correctional
Centre in Maple Ridge. In early 2009, 18 cells were opened at the
Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, also in Maple Ridge. At the
Prince George Regional Correctional Centre, 20 additional cells were
recently completed for women. Construction is well advanced on the
development of 104 additional cells at the Alouette facility,
targeted for completion in spring in 2011. Finally, planning for a
180 cell addition at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre is well
underway, with occupancy
targeted for fall 2013.
• A site is needed to accommodate a proposed
360 cell correctional centre. The
facility will consist of 10 living units, each with 36 cells. The
site will also accommodate an admissions area, administration, staff
services, food preparation, health care, segregation, inmate
programs, and on-site parking. If a site was available and
appropriately zoned by late 2011, planning, design and construction
could be completed by approximately mid 2015.
• Proposed locations for the proposed correctional centre should
meet certain suitability criteria, including:
> A buildable area of about 8 hectares (20 acres);
6.1 Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General re: Okanagan
Correctional Centre Site
Solicitor General, Rich Coleman, letter of December 7, 2010
requested the assistance of Central Okanagan local governments
in identifying a suitable site for a secure provincial
correctional centre in the Okanagan area. Member municipalities
have received the letter directly.
It was noted that City of Kelowna correspondence was
circulated to member municipalities noting that land has already
been zoned for such a facility.
THAT the December 7,2010 letter from Solicitor General, Rich
Coleman, requesting assistance of Central Okanagan local
governments in identifying a suitable site for a secure
provincial correctional centre in the Okanagan area be received;
AND FURTHER THAT the City of Kelowna letter of January 4,
2011 to Minister Coleman regarding the rezoning of a parcel of
land to allow for Provincial Correctional Facility Use be
circulated to the Board.
More accused criminals will walk free, including in Vernon, because
there simply aren’t enough judges sitting in B.C. Provincial Court
to hear their cases.
That’s the warning from a new report released by the court that says
the chronic shortage of judges is putting thousands of criminal
cases at risk of being thrown out due to unacceptable delays.
“The current inventory of uncompleted cases is growing markedly, as
is the delay for all case types other than youth court
prosecutions,” according to the report titled Justice Delayed: A
Report of the Provincial Court of B.C. Concerning Judicial
“Increasingly, the court is failing to meet its legal obligation to
provide timely access to justice.”
There are now 16,000 cases that have been before the courts for more
than 180 days, it says.
“While it is not possible to predict the number of cases that will
be stayed for unreasonable delay, thousands of cases are at risk.”
Half-day trials are being delayed 11 months or more in Vernon.
For two-day criminal trials, Vernon faces delays of at least a year.
There are 17 fewer judges in the province than in 2005 and the
current 130 judges aren’t able to keep up with the number of
incoming cases, the report says.
Compared to 2005, there were 900 fewer trial days scheduled in 2010
and there will be 1,600 fewer next year unless more judges are
Adult criminal cases aren’t the only ones affected.
“Over the last year there has been a dramatic increase in the delay
and volume of uncompleted civil, family and child protection cases,”
the report says,
Individual judges have also spoken out in recent months about the
lengthy system delays that have forced them to toss out cases
ranging from impaired driving to drug dealing.
More judges alone won’t cure the backlog – the report says more
prosecutors, defence lawyers, clerks, sheriffs and court space will
also be required.
For now, police will not issue roadside suspensions of three days or
Victoria Police Chief Jamie Graham, chair of the B.C. Association of
Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee, told a Vancouver news
conference that recent RCMP lab tests found a small "margin of
error" in the current devices.
As a result, the devices will be recalibrated from .05 - the current
blood-alcohol standard for roadside suspensions - to .06 "out of an
abundance of caution," he said.
The recalibration will be done on a staggered basis at the Langley
RCMP detachment and should be completed by Dec. 1, prior to the
seasonal police roadblocks.
Until that time, police will not issue roadside suspensions of three
days or longer under new provincial drunk driving laws, but can
still issue 24-hour suspensions if they have reasonable grounds to
believe a motorist is impaired.
Graham said he had no idea how many drivers may have already
received longer suspensions for falling with the breathalyzers'
margin of error.
He noted police are fully supportive of the new tougher laws, saying
there is no question they are "making a positive difference." The
hastily called news conference ended before reporters could fully
question Graham and other police association representatives on the
Over a 15-year span, 267 people died in police custody in B.C.,
says a new report released Wednesday, which argues the numbers
appear to be higher here than in other Canadian jurisdictions.
The data was taken from coroners reports in British Columbia between
1992 and 2007, and compiled by SFU criminology Prof. David
MacAlister for a report by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
The report says the B.C. numbers compare poorly to 113 deaths
between 1992 and 2006 (the years for which data was available) in
Ontario, a province with 13 million people.
In-custody deaths have been of particular interest in B.C. following
several high-profile police-involved cases, including Robert
Dziekanski, Ian Bush, Frank Paul, Kevin St. Arnaud and Paul Boyd.
The report, entitled Police-Involved Deaths: The Failure of
Self-Investigation, offers no evidence to explain why in-custody
deaths may be more prevalent in B.C.
However, it notes this province lags behind others "in its tardiness
in adopting a civilian-led, civilian-staffed agency to investigate
allegations of police wrongdoing."
The provincial government announced in June, following the release
of the report from the inquiry looking into Dziekanski's death, it
would establish, within a year, an independent civilian agency to
investigate police-related deaths and serious injuries.
A spokesman for the RCMP, which polices a large portion of B.C.,
says the federal police agency supports such a body.
"One of the pushes in the report is for civilian-led oversight and
we're fully on board with that," said Sgt. Rob Vermeulen.
He said the RCMP is still studying the 103-page report, but at first
blush "is having some difficulty reconciling its numbers." Vermeulen
argued the website for Ontario's civilian oversight agency, the
Special Investigations Unit, shows in-custody deaths in that
provinces from 1992 to 2007 were, in fact, more than four times
higher than the figure noted in the local study.
The deaths counted in the B.C. report include those of people who
were in the custody of police at the time they died, including being
in police cells.
It found the vast majority (91 per cent) were men; the most common
age group was 30 to 39 (30 per cent); the most common cause of
death, according to the coroners' reports, was accidental (53 per
cent), followed by suicides (15 per cent) and homicides (14 per
The data did indicate an overall decline in the number of in-custody
deaths in B.C., starting with 24 in 1992 and dropping to 11 in 2007.
The year with the most deaths was 2004, with 27 incidents. The year
with the least number of deaths was 1995.
The report said in-custody death data was available for only four
other jurisdictions in Canada:
— New Brunswick: 23 deaths from 1992/93 to 2006.
— Northwest Territories: eight deaths from 1995 to 2002.
It isn't a new concept but it's one that is becoming more popular.
A number of bars, pubs and even restaurants are offering patrons a
safe ride home in an effort to combat the loss of business after
introduction of the HST and new, tough drinking and driving laws.
Owners of the Waterfront Grill and Pizzeria, a restaurant in
Peachland, recently purchased a six seat van to give
restaurant-goers a free ride home.
Co-owner Greg Davies says the service is something the restaurant
has been contemplating for quite some time.
"We had discussed this 18 months ago when we were opening the
restaurant and the fact that we are in Peachland and we don't have
taxi services, it's something we've been planning on doing all
along," says Davies.
"There have obviously been some changes. You have .05 and it's
without a doubt going to affect the marketplace to a degree and we
to offer some safe options for people to feel comfortable and get
Davies says alcohol consumption has dropped at his restaurant since
the new liquor laws were introduced September 20.
He says that may be due in part to the fact people are unsure how
much alcohol they can safely consume.
"I think that people want to get clear information as to what they
can and cannot do and perhaps that may be a question right now."
Steve Turton, General Manager of McCulloch Station Pub in East
Kelowna says everybody is scared to drink and drive.
"They are coming in and having a glass of beer or a beer and finding
reasons not to drink more than one," says Turton.
"I'm down about 22 or 25 per cent right now."
Turton says he has laid off one staff member and is contemplating
"This is our winter staff because we are not as busy as we once
McCulloch, like Waterfront Grill, has also started offering a
Their service runs from 5 p.m. until closing time Wednesday through
Patrons can receive just a ride home or they can be picked up from
home and returned at the end of the evening.
McCulloch Station is charging $5 per trip or the ride is
complimentary if there are six or more at one location.
Turton says McCulloch Station Pub also has a designated driver
program that was put in place several years ago.
He says people who identify themselves as designated drivers are
supplied with free pop and coffee for the evening.
"I think the .05 is a great law, my problem is the way they brought
it in and the timing of when they brought it in. The timing is not
Kelowna City Council wants some answers from the Liquor Control
Board after several liquor establishments were forced to close
during last weekends BreakOut West music event.
Councillor, Charlie Hodge, made the motion Monday asking the city
send a letter to the LCB asking for clarification on the timing and
the severity of the suspensions.
The Habitat was barred from serving liquor for 25 days beginning
October 16 while Cush Restaurant and Lounge was given a 13 day ban
starting October 23.
"I would like council to write a letter to the Liquor Control Board
and inquire about the significant length of time it seems to take
between when a violation is deemed to have taken place and when the
actual decision is made on the length of that penalty," says Hodge.
"It's not an issue of whether someone was wrong with the handling of
liquor in their facility but more of the time it takes for a
decision to be made."
Hodge says he also wants an explanation on the decision making
process on the severity of the suspensions.
"Some would suggest 13 days is an extremely
long time for a business to be shut down. My concern is for the
employees. It's one thing to nail the employer but you are putting
people out of work for 13 days."
Councillor Andre Blanleil took exception with the timing of the
suspensions which were handed down just before the BreakOut West
"That was I think ridiculous and almost mean-spirited. I know they
are trying to do their job but to me, it wasn't very business
friendly," says Blanleil.
"Nor was it appropriate. There is a major event coming to Kelowna
and they shut these facilities down during this major event. I'm
sure they could have used better judgment."
Hodge agreed the timing was questionable.
Meantime, Hodge also asked that council contact the provincial
agency responsible for licensing taxi cabs about the possibility of
increasing the number of cabs allowed to operate in the city.
Hodge says with changes to the liquor act lowering the blood alcohol
level for motorists to .05, there is a greater awareness that cabs
are a wise option.
"If you don't want to drink and drive you want to take a cab, but
it's not so easy to take a taxi as I learned on the weekend," says
"On one hand we want to encourage people not to drink and drive and
on the other hand we make it very difficult."
Council did send a letter to the province several years ago making
the same request and Mayor Sharon Shepherd says she has recently
received a letter from a Kelowna cab company asking council to send
Rather than take immediate action, council has decided to wait until
next Monday to bring forward and review all correspondence between
cab companies and the city and between the city and the province.
Some cops say the new drinking and driving laws are handcuffing
them, but Kelowna RCMP say the legislation is showing results.
Castanet's Kelly Hayes reports.
Province trumpeting results
Police in the province have issued more than 21,000 tickets to
motorists since the introduction of tougher laws for impaired
driving, excessive speed and driving while using hand held devices.
Since introduction of laws making it illegal to use hand-held
devices while driving on February 1, nearly 20,000 tickets were
handed out over the first six months of enforcement.
During the first three weeks of tougher alcohol and speeding laws,
police have written 435 tickets for excessive speed while 1,288
drivers have received 3 or 90 day driving prohibitions for impaired
Under new impaired driving laws introduced September 20, the Blood
Alcohol Content Level was lowered from .08 to .05.
Motorists caught at or over .05 can now lose their driver's licence,
have their vehicle impounded and pay costs ranging from $600 to
Over the first three weeks, 515 motorists received three-day
Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRP) for driving with levels
between .05 and .08 while 773 drivers received a 90 day IRP for
having levels over .08.
In the southern region of the province which includes the Okanagan,
109 people received three-day IRP's and 144 were handed 90-day IRP's.
Police also issued more than 1,400 administrative driving
"While these tallies are alarming, I commend law enforcement
officers for their efforts," says B.C. Solicitor General, Michael de
"The desired goal is to negate the need to issue these penalties as
our aim is to change dangerous and preventable driving behaviour,
but that depends on British Columbians making small personal choices
that could mean the difference between life and death or serious
De Jong says the new laws regulate basic rules of the road, "keeping
your hands on the wheel, your speed in check and your driving free
He adds the number of crashes attributed to driving too fast for
conditions increases significantly in the winter.
Police across British Columbia have handed out more than 21,000
tickets in the last six months to drivers who were speeding,
impaired or using hand-held cell phones.
The majority of those tickets, nearly 20,000, were to drivers caught
using cell phones after the ban came into effect Feb. 1.
From Sept. 20 to Oct. 10, authorities also doled out more than 1,400
penalties for drinking and driving and 435 for excessive speeding --
driving 40 kilometres or more over the posted limit.
Speaking at a road safety event in Richmond, Solicitor General Mike
de Jong said the tallies are alarming but prove police are
responding and enforcing the new regulations.
"Now almost 20,000 British Columbians have found out the hard way
that there are ramifications for doing something common sense tells
you that you shouldn't be doing," he said.
Police have impounded 1,239 vehicles from impaired drivers since the
new laws took effect Sept. 20. The government said the majority of
drivers failed a .08 roadside breathalyzer test.
Under the new B.C. laws – now Canada's toughest – motorists can lose
their driver's licence, have their vehicle impounded, and pay costs
ranging from $600 to $4,060 if they are caught behind the wheel
Drivers with a blood alcohol level of between .05 and .08 face a
three-day roadside prohibition, while blowing .08 and above can see
drivers without their cars for 90 days.
Below is a regional breakdown of the sanctions for impaired driving
handed out to B.C. motorists in the first three weeks since the
legislation took effect:
•Lower Mainland - 617: 3-day IRP: 254, 90-day IRP: 363
•Vancouver Island - 262: 3-day IRP: 101, 90 day IRP: 161
•Southern Region - 253: 3-day IRP: 109, 90 day IRP: 144
•North - 156: 3-day IRP: 51, 90 day IRP: 105
•Total - 1,288: 3-day IRP: 515, 90 day IRP: 773
All 435 excessive speeders had their cars impounded for seven days.
This penalty jumps to 30 days for a second offence, or 60 days for
subsequent excessive speeding within two years. Drivers also face
towing and/or impoundment costs.
De Jong said the penalties are a drop in the bucket.
"I believe that if someone insists on driving through a school zone
during the day with kids playing at 80 kilometres an hour, losing
their car for a week is a small price to pay in comparison to the
tragedy that can occur," he said.
De Jong insists the province isn't out for a cash grab with its
recent ticket enforcement. He says the government hopes it can
negate the need to issue fines, and instead just change the
dangerous driving behaviour of people on the roads.
The B.C. government is kicking in $450,000 to help independent
police departments with their holiday and Counterattack campaigns,
due to run from Oct. 29 to Jan. 3, 2011.
British Columbia Attorney General Mike de Jong speaks to the media
on Tuesday September 28, 2010. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
CTV.ca - The Canadian Press - Sunday Oct. 17, 2010
VANCOUVER — The RCMP needs an attitude adjustment and the shift will
need to be part of any new deal British Columbia and other provinces
negotiate for future policing services, says B.C.'s attorney
Mike de Jong told reporters after a justice ministers meeting last
week that he and his colleagues in other provinces are looking for a
direct line of accountability between the RCMP and the provincial
A "cultural shift" needs to accompany the structural shift that they
are negotiating, the minister said.
"The RCMP needs to be accountable both provincially and at the
But a long-time police psychologist says the RCMP instead need
transformational change to save the force from itself.
Mounties provide policing services under contract in all provinces
except Quebec and Ontario and an agreement negotiated in 1992 will
expire in 2012.
British Columbia is the largest user of RCMP services in Canada, and
de Jong said the province is using its lead role in contract talks
to force change from the national police force.
Shortly after the results of the inquiry into the death of Robert
Dziekanski, de Jong announced that a civilian investigation office
would be established to investigate in-custody deaths and severe
injuries involving municipal police and RCMP.
Dziekanski died after being jolted by an RCMP Taser several times at
Vancouver's airport. The incident was caught on video and the
resulting public furor over the death tarnished the once-squeaky
clean image of the Mounties.
The incident was the peak in a series of Mountie missteps across the
country in the last few years.
Mike Webster is a police psychologist and worked with the RCMP for
decades before he spoke out during the Dziekanski inquiry.
He said the cultural shift de Jong is proposing won't be as easy as
the minister believes.
"They're not going to change. You can have (police) report to the
municipalities ... but that's not going to bring about an attitude
change, you're not going to rekindle the moral of the membership or
rekindle the trust in confidence in the public."
He said in an interview Sunday that type of change would be
Instead, he said "a transformational change would see the RCMP
transformed into an entirely different organization with a much
greater chance to survive."
He compared such a change to auto giant General Motors before and
after the world's financial collapse.
"They swept the house clean of the old guard," he said. "They've
downsized, they've knocked out middle management and so on, and they
just might survive. That's the kind of thing the RCMP needs to
He said that would mean a change by the federal government of the
De Jong said the federal government has been receptive to the idea
that RCMP officers account both to the province and local
communities for their actions.
The attorney general wouldn't say yes or no when asked if there was
any chance the RCMP wouldn't get the contract.
He did say B.C.'s municipal leaders have told him they want the RCMP.
"They like that relationship, for all its shortcomings. So on the
basis of those instructions we are actively working."
Webster said there's one main reason cities want the Mounties.
"They want the RCMP because RCMP is the Wal-Mart of policing.
They're much cheaper than getting their own police services."
He said the mayors of those municipalities aren't interested in good
policing, they're interested in cheap policing.
Webster said the RCMP cuts corners on the backs of its members .
He said the result is sick officers who suffer more stress at work
and depression than the general public.
"The RCMP gets away with operating so cheaply because it asks so
much of its membership."
Instead, Webster believes the RCMP should restrict its role in
Canada to something similar to the FBI in the United States.
Two B.C. police officers abused their authority when they left a
drunk teen tethered inside a Victoria jail cell for hours, the
adjudicator in a public hearing ruled Tuesday.
Retired provincial court judge Alan Filmer said at a hearing of the
B.C. Police Complaint Commissioner that constables Ryan O'Neill and
Brian Asmussen will receive written reprimands for their handling of
15-year-old Willow Kinloch.
Kinloch was arrested in 2005 after police found her wandering drunk
along a downtown Victoria street at midnight.
Police have claimed that Kinloch was verbally abusive and combative
when they picked her up.
At first police tried to take her home. When no one responded at the
residence, police said she was taken to jail for her own safety.
They alleged she then became uncooperative.
Surveillance tape shows officers pushing Kinloch against the wall of
a jail cell, forcing her to the ground and handcuffing her. The
officers then tie her feet and leave her tethered to the cell door
for four hours.
In his ruling on the incident, Filmer said that from now on, leg
restraints should only be used on children as a last resort.
Filmer also called for B.C.'s children's representative to look into
the case, and said the government needs to ensure that a social
worker is available to children in similar situations -- even if
Kinloch sued the Victoria Police Department for violating her
charter rights, and was awarded $60,000 by a B.C. Supreme Court jury
The department has been the target of several abuse-of-power
complaints in recent years.
In June, Victoria Police Chief Jamie Graham announced a sweeping
review of the department's use of force and cell-block operations.
The probe was prompted by several high-profile incidents this
winter, including a January incident in the cell-block area that led
to allegations of assault against Sergeant George Chong, brother of
Oak Bay–Gordon Head MLA, Ida Chong.
In April, the Calgary Police Service agreed to conduct an internal
investigation of the department after a video posted on YouTube
showed two officers apparently kicking a man being restrained
outside of a nightclub.
This month, lawyers here will once again provide free legal advice
in the streets of Kelowna in order to raise awareness and funds for
B.C.’s pro bono programs.
The free legal advice-a-thon (www.advice-a-thon.ca)
will allow access to justice for low- and modest-income people,
including the homeless, by having lawyers advice scheduled and
drop-in clients on all legal issues.
In each free legal advice-a-thon location, volunteer lawyers will
work in one or two-hour shifts throughout the day to advise
individual clients in an open-air setting. Clients will be low and
modest-income individuals, including homeless people who may
otherwise have limited access to traditional free legal advice
Some clients will have scheduled appointments, while others will
simply drop in for free advice on a wide range of legal issues.
Last year, Pro Bono Going Public succeeded in securing the maximum
amount of volunteer lawyers for each city in B.C. where the event
took place. In Vancouver, 48 lawyers participated, as did 16 lawyers
in Kelowna and 14 in Victoria.
In all, they helped 167 clients over the court of three days on a
range of legal matters including civil, criminal, employment,
family, tenant and landlord disputes and wills and estates.
This year, lawyers will be at City Park’s Rose garden, from 10 a.m.
to 3 p.m., on Sept. 8. To book an appointment, call 1-877-762-6664.
Kelowna has been chosen as one of the locations for public hearings
that will lead to recommendations on the future of legal aid in this
province, the Public Commission on Legal Aid announced Tuesday.
A total of 11 communities will be visited by the commission in
September and October to gather input from the public and
stakeholder groups about their views on the future of legal aid.
“One of the principal goals of the Public Commission is to engage
the people of British Columbia regarding the future of legal aid in
the province,” said commissioner Leonard Doust.
“Our visits to B.C. communities will provide important opportunities
for the public commission to hear directly from individuals,
community groups and justice system stakeholders.
“Shared stories, experiences and ideas for the future will provide
the public commission with the B.C.-wide perspective required to
ensure our understanding is well-informed, current and relevant,”
“This input will be key to the development of a range of
solutions-focused recommendations that I trust will contribute
positively to the future shape of legal aid.”
The commission is accepting both written submissions and expressions
of interest to make in-person presentations.
Submissions can be made by organizations or individuals who have had
dealings with, thoughts on, or innovative ideas about the provision
of legal aid in B.C.
KAMLOOPS (NEWS1130) - Mounties are investigating their own officers
over claims several of them watched two prisoners have sex in a
Kamloops jail cell.
Two women were picked up separately by police on August 18, and were
put in the same cell where they're said to have had sex.
Four Mounties and three civilian staffers, all men, allegedly
watched on video for seven minutes without intervening. The Kamloops
Major Crimes Section is leading a criminal investigation involving
the seven, as well as looking into the sexual contact between the
women. The City of Kamloops is also running its own investigation.
Three constables are still on duty but the acting watch commander, a
corporal with 20 years on the job, has now been assigned to a desk.
Kelowna RCMP officers are not issuing enough
tickets to stop drivers from speeding through local neighbourhoods,
city council heard Monday.
Coun. Luke Stack said he has heard serious concern about drivers are
laying too much rubber near local homes when council met with the
neighbourhood associations en mass earlier this month and he shared
the concern with RCMP Insp. Cam Forgues.
The cops have not been handing out enough tickets, Forgues admitted,
noting even the figures for this summer show officers are not on top
of the basic infractions when the busy summer season begins.
“It’s a constant battle we face every day,” he said, adding
“unfortunately, in the last few years, we’ve been robbing the
traffic section for other duties.”
During his monthly visits to council, Supt. Bill McKinnon has
consistently complained that the local RCMP have had to steal
resources from the traffic section of their detachment in order to
meet demands in other areas—particularly during the busy summer
Funding to pay for additional police officers must come out of the
city’s budget and, though he received an additional five officers
this year, the McKinnon said he would need 21 more to meet demands
this year. Council did not agree to his request.
Last December, McKinnon told council he is burning his officers out
and they are stretched thin, according to a frightening statistical
analysis that revealed Kelowna’s police resources are among the
worst in the country.
A Statistics Canada study released that same month suggested this
city has the lowest number of officers per capita of any city in
At the time, the superintendent disputed some of the figures in the
study, but said it accurately depicted the state of affairs at his
Numbers from the local policing reports for last month indicate
there is still a problem.
In June, Kelowna RCMP issued 855 tickets, but by July, with tourists
flocking to the shores of Okanagan Lake, only 642 were issued.
Forgues said he is aware that
has actually taken the concerns to the officers, saying “I know
you’re busy, but take the time to write a few tickets.”
METRO VANCOUVER -- A Burnaby man is claiming entrapment after he
witnessed a driver get pulled over by an unmarked police cruiser
with an N decal on the rear of the vehicle along the
Abbotsford-Mission highway in late July.
Peter Doerksen, a delivery truck driver who works the roads of the
Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, had just turned onto Highway 11
from Old Clayburn Road when he noticed a man had been pulled over
and was receiving a traffic ticket from a female police officer.
The officer was driving a black unmarked Dodge Charger with a novice
driver emblem on the rear of the car.
Doerksen said he pulled over to the side of the highway, approached
the officer and asked if she was a new driver as the emblem
He said the officer informed him that she did not have any
restrictions on her licence - those restrictions being that she
would have either a learner or novice driver's licence, which is not
permitted under the APD's minimum requirements for applicants as
stated on the department's website.
He then asked her to remove the N from the vehicle. However, she
refused, he said.
"There's nothing wrong with keeping the roads safe and I appreciate
that, but being sneaky like that and specifically baiting people -
in the United States it's called entrapment," said Doerksen.
"These tactics are unfair if not illegal," he added in an e-mail.
But ICBC spokeswoman Cindy Kralj said the APD and other law
enforcement agencies are not violating the Motor Vehicle Act by
putting an 'N' on the back of their cars.
"Let's say you're not a [novice driver] but you have an N on your
car, I don't believe there is a fine out there for that," she said,
adding the issue of unmarked police vehicles in the Lower Mainland
driving around with an N or L on the back has been brought up before
with ICBC by the public.
"From our standpoint, there's nothing in the Motor Vehicle Act or no
fine for it."
Kralj said people pulled over by a unmarked police car with an N and
given a traffic ticket can dispute it in court.
"I suspect they'd be hard-pressed to have a judge say 'yeah, you're
right and sure it doesn't matter you happen to be speeding,'" she
Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald confirmed last week that the
department does deploy unmarked vehicles with Ns and Ls.
"My question would be how would it change his driving behaviour,"
"Would the argument be that it's entrapment because he sees an N and
then therefore drives differently?"
David Eby, executive director for the B.C. Civil Liberties
Association, does not see this police tactic as a violation, either.
"While a lot of police undercover tactics deserve scrutiny,
especially those that involve breaking the law or infiltrating
political organizations, I'm not sure that pretending to be a novice
driver, or using unmarked cars, or both, is a tactic that is worthy
of constitutional review," he wrote in an e-mail.
A video of a drunk man being strapped to a chair in his jail cell
by police officers has the B.C. Civil Liberties Association
demanding that RCMP stop the practice.
In January, the association says, Lloyd Gilbert of Williams Lake,
B.C., called police to report a robbery, only to be taken into RCMP
custody because he was deemed too drunk to be left alone safely.
In the video, Gilbert is seen pacing around and climbing onto a
After speaking to him, officers then bind him to a chair with
leather straps that criss-cross over his chest.
Gilbert is left sitting on the chair for three hours and 20 minutes,
during which time he urinates on himself. Officers come in to check
on him twice.
Through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
Gilbert obtained the video and handed it over to the association.
It is questioning the RCMP's policy when handling highly intoxicated
"Drunk people do stupid things, and the RCMP need facilities that
prevent these people from hurting themselves so they can sober up
safely," said Robert Holmes, president of the association, in a news
"Tying drunk people who don't follow instructions to chairs for
hours, and thereby placing them at increased risk of aspirating
their vomit and dying, is not the only response we expect to be
available for RCMP officers to drunk prisoners that don't follow
Gilbert should have been taken to a detox facility or to a secure
cell where he could not be aggravated, Holmes said.
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Rob Vermeulen said Gilbert was arrested for
causing a disturbance, not because he was drunk.
"In the video, there is a certain co-ordination and balance of
movement required to climb a sink like that," he said. "A severely
intoxicated person would not be able to do what (Gilbert) did."
The chair — an approved restraint device — was used to prevent
Gilbert from injuring himself or others and damaging cellblock
properties, he said.
"He fully met the criteria for use of restraint," Vermeulen said.
"We've got him climbing on the sink three times, and he could have
hurt himself by doing that if (he'd fallen). He was aggressive
towards police, so he could have caused harm to others. And he was
trying to remove a ceiling vent."
Vermeulen also said officers were monitoring Gilbert regularly
through video surveillance in addition to physically checking on
An investigation of the incident will begin shortly, he said.
Stockwell recently announced $9
billion for new prisons during one of the largest deficits in
Canadian history. Where the economic argument alone is
enough to raise concerns about Mr. Day, the fact that Canada’s crime
rate has dropped year after year only confirms those worries.
Stockwell Day is a nice guy, but he’s not the smartest. He may have
best intentions, but they often are directed the wrong way, and in
this case $9 billion the wrong way.
In response to criticism that the government shouldn’t be spending
so much money on new prisons when the crime rate has been
consistently decreasing, Stockwell
Day said the prisons were needed because of increases in unreported
Mr. Day actually said prisons were needed because there were
increases in unreported crime, the same kind of unreported crime
that no one knows happened and that no one gets caught.
How is Stockwell Day going to arrest and convict people who have
been committing crimes that are unreported?
I am concerned that the Canadian government is spending billions of
dollars on prisons in the middle of one of the largest deficits in
history especially when they aren’t needed, but I’m also concerned
that Stockwell Day still gets to speak.
There was a tremendous amount of damning evidence against Robert
(Willie) Pickton that the jurors deciding his fate did not hear
during his year-long trial in 2007, including an allegation from a
sex-trade worker that he nearly stabbed her to death. Photograph by:
Peter Battistoni, Vancouver Sun file. The following story contains
VANCOUVER — There was a tremendous amount of damning evidence
against Robert (Willie) Pickton that the jurors deciding his fate
did not hear during his year-long trial in 2007, including an
allegation from a sex-trade worker that he nearly stabbed her to
A series of behind-the-scenes legal rulings meant explosive Crown
evidence was kept from the jury, which ultimately found Pickton not
guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of six women, but guilty
of the lesser charge of second-degree murder.
Publication bans kept this information under wraps until the Supreme
Court of Canada quashed Pickton’s bid for a new trial, prompting
B.C.’s attorney-general to stay 20 additional outstanding charges of
first-degree murder against Pickton.
At the top of this shocking list of missing evidence was that of a
woman who (who can’t be named) said Pickton picked her up in the
Downtown Eastside and brutally stabbed her on his farm in 1997. She
was important to the Crown’s case because without her, the
prosecution presented no witnesses to testify that Pickton had
Police found widespread evidence on Pickton’s farm linked to the
other 20 women he was charged with killing, but those details were
kept from the jury because the judge ruled they would be heard
during a separate trial, which will not be held now that those
charges have been stayed. The excluded evidence includes revelations
• The DNA of 10 of the women was found on items in two freezers in
Pickton’s workshop, the same location where police found the
butchered remains of two women he was convicted of killing.
• Also in the freezers were packages of ground meat containing the
DNA of victims Inga Hall and Cindy Feliks.
• Cara Ellis’s DNA was found on Pickton’s jacket and Andrea
Borhaven’s DNA on his boots — clothing that was seized after the
1997 knife attack but was forgotten in a police storage locker for
• On Pickton’s property, police found multiple objects linked to the
20 additional victims, including Jennifer Furminger’s DNA on a saw
in the slaughterhouse; the DNA of Pickton and Jacqueline McDonell on
handcuffs in the accused’s bedroom, and Pickton’s DNA on two condoms
found inside two purses linked to Sarah de Vries and Dianne Rock.
• Wendy Crawford’s partial leg bone was found in the cistern of the
old piggery, near the remains of two women Pickton was convicted of
There were multiple other bones and teeth buried in Pickton’s
property, which the Crown privately called the “killing fields,” but
that information was not shared with the jurors.
The jury also did not hear about an astounding collection of women’s
belongings that could not be connected by DNA to any of the known
victims. For example, on one cluttered shelf in the slaughterhouse —
close to where police found the jewelry of Andrea Joesbury, whom
Pickton has been convicted of killing — there were three necklaces,
one pair of earrings and three single earrings, a hair elastic, a
cosmetic pencil sharpener, a woman’s watch and a woman’s watch face,
two pendants and lip balm.
The Crown argued that a blow-up sex doll bearing Pickton’s DNA found
in his bedroom closet near items belonging to the victims was
relevant because “of the potential sexual nature of Mr. Pickton’s
dealings” with the women, but the judge agreed with the defence’s
position that it would tarnish his character for the jury to hear
about the sex toy.
“The doll in question is rather peculiar and bizarre in appearance.
The thought that Mr. Pickton engaged in sexual activity with this
item could reasonably be expected to repulse members of the jury. In
my view, there is a real concern that admission of the doll would be
prejudicial, as it could lead the jury to conclude that Mr. Pickton
is a sexually maladjusted individual and a person of bad character,”
Williams said in his ruling.
But there was another piece of evidence that would surely have
tarnished Pickton’s character even more, if the jury had ever had a
chance to see it.
Immediately after Pickton’s Feb. 22, 2002 arrest, he was videotaped
in his cell. The jury saw portions of the tape when he was speaking
to his cellmate (an undercover officer), but what was edited out was
shocking: When the cellmate was briefly removed, Pickton stripped
off his clothes and masturbated in his jail cell, despite having
been told there was a security camera in the ceiling.
Whether the six murders Pickton was convicted of committing were sex
crimes was never debated during the trial because the victims’
remains did not provide that evidence.
When prosecutor Michael Petrie told the jury at the end of the
prosecution’s case on Aug. 13, 2007 that he was “satisfied the
evidence the Crown should be calling has been called,” what he
surely meant was that he had called the evidence he was allowed, by
law, to reveal to the jury.
Some of the information — such as most of the evidence pertaining to
the other 20 victims — was held back from the jury after the judge
ruled in August 2006 that Pickton should face two separate trials:
the first one on six counts, and a second one on 20 counts.
Even after the severance ruling, the Crown still wanted to tell the
jury about the ground meat containing the DNA of Feliks and Hall, as
well as Crawford’s small leg bone found in the cistern, as “similar
In his ruling, Williams said he was satisfied “that the DNA material
found in the freezers is some part of the remains of Ms Feliks and
Ms Hall, that they were murdered and that they were dismembered.”
However, Williams ultimately ruled there was no conclusive link
between Pickton and the ground meat or the leg bone, that they would
not have added much to the Crown’s case, and that permitting the
evidence would have been prejudicial against Pickton and made the
The defence was opposed to the jury hearing about all the
unidentified women’s jewelry and other belongings found scattered
throughout the slaughterhouse because the jurors might “improperly”
conclude that the items constituted a “trophy” display of
possessions of other missing women.
While Williams ruled the value of the items should not be
“trivialized” because of the importance of the slaughterhouse to the
Crown’s case, he decided their inclusion would be too prejudicial to
The judge also agreed with arguments by the defence that the jury
shouldn’t hear about additional guns stashed in the loft of
Pickton’s workshop because it would make the accused seem like a
Regarding Furminger’s DNA being found on an electric saw, Williams
said “a reasonably available inference is that it may have been used
to dismember human beings.” But because the DNA did not belong to
any of the six women at the centre of the first trial, its inclusion
would be “significantly prejudicial” to Pickton, the judge said.
“With respect to the concern raised by the Crown that the
consequence of such a ruling is that Mr. Pickton will be able to
effectively mislead the jury by saying that there was no DNA
evidence on any of the saws, regrettably, the jury will be left with
the impression that no such evidence was found, and there is no easy
solution to that problem,” Williams wrote.
He ruled the condoms with Pickton’s DNA were admissible, but the
fact that they were found in purses belonging to Dianne Rock and
Sarah DeVries was not.
“The order for severance that was made some time earlier in these
proceedings has resulted, from time to time, in collateral
consequences to the Crown’s case,” he added.
How knowing about this evidence might have affected the jury’s 10
days of deliberation will never be known because in Canada, jurors
cannot be interviewed about how they reached their verdicts.
The B.C. government has suspended a controversial test called a
penile plethysmograph, which it was using to assess young sex
offenders to determine their risk of reoffending after treatment.
On Wednesday, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association demanded the
government intervene after it learned of the tests.
Within hours, the government suspended the sex testing after the
provincial advocate for children and youth announced she would
conduct a review.
B.C.'s Children's Representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says she
only learned last week of this clinical testing on young people,
about a week before the BCCLA went public with its concerns.
Turpel-Lafond says after she raised concerns with senior ministry
officials, the practice was suspended.
"They have assured me this testing is not happening at the moment
and they will not continue this testing until my office has
completed a review of the matter," she said.
"I think we're going to look very carefully at the balancing of the
rights of the youth, their vulnerability, the process that was
used," she said. "Is this a necessary tool? Is it valuable? I think
we're really going to have to look at all of the key issues with
Youths shown images of naked children
During the test, a youth would attach a device to his penis that is
designed to measure his physical sexual arousal.
Researchers in another room then play images of adults having sex,
followed by images of naked children and infants, as they monitor
the youth's level of arousal, according to Robert Holmes, the
president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
The images are accompanied by audio of a male voice that describes
forced intercourse with male and female infants as young as two,
according to Holmes.
The youth's genitals are covered by a sheet during the testing, and
the youth is monitored by researchers behind one-way glass who
measure whether or not there is some kind of stimulation effect,
"Male children, often abuse victims themselves, are subjected to
this treatment by a government responsible for their care and
well-being," said Holmes.
The youth subjects are predominantly children involved in the
criminal justice system in B.C., he said.
"In our view, serious rights issues are involved with this. That is
particularly so given that the individuals involved are vulnerable
youth. The public is entitled to a full explanation," he said.
"These tests are a clear breach of the children's basic human
rights. In any other context, subjecting children to violent
pornography would be considered sexual abuse," said Annabel Webb,
director of the advocacy group Justice for Girls.
Proponents of the program say a youth's parents have consented to
the tests, which they say allow officials to predict whether the
youths are likely to reoffend.
But Holmes questioned whether consent was properly obtained from the
youths and their families. He also said the test has a high error
rate and could adversely affect the youths involved.
Used to determine risk of reoffending
The tests are conducted by Youth Forensic Psychiatric Services, part
of the Ministry for Children and Family Development.
Children and Family Development Minister Mary Polak says the test is
conducted only on young people who have committed serious sexual
offences as part of a treatment process to try to determine the
youth's likelihood of reoffending.
"The ministry relies on the advice of medical professionals and
clinical practitioners with regard to research and therapeutic
intervention as it relates to the treatment of youth who have
committed — and have been found guilty of — serious sexual
offences," Polak said in a statement released Wednesday.
Polak said it's completely voluntary, involves parental or guardian
consent and can be withdrawn at any stage, but she takes the
concerns seriously and will co-operate with the review by the
Representative for Children and Youth.
What would it be like if we had only one law and one law only? As long as
your not hurting anyone or anything! People would understand that one law
and not need a lawyer now would they?
If you buy something in the US using your visa and then return it, you may get
less money back, depending on the exchange rate. okanaganlakebc.ca knows
someone who lost $64.00 in difference in the exchange rate through one return
transaction. The person phoned Visa and was given a $30.00 credit so only
lost $34.00 instead of $64.00.
Application of English law in British Columbia
2 Subject to section 3, the Civil and Criminal Laws of England, as they existed
on November 19, 1858, so far as they are not from local circumstances
inapplicable, are in force in British Columbia, but those laws must be held to
be modified and altered by all legislation that has the force of law in British
Columbia or in any former Colony comprised within its geographical limits.
Laws not in force in British Columbia
3 Section 28 of the Offences Against the Person Act, 1828 and all sections of
the Real Property Act, 1845 are not in force in British Columbia.
The fact that government has not made any cuts to "government legal
aid" shows that legal aid cuts have not gone far enough.
Citizens accused of criminal and provincial offences are routinely
denied legal aid, depending on the complexity of the case.
Well, if the case is so simple that the illiterate accused person
doesn't reasonably require a lawyer, then what possible fiscal
justification could there be for the government to hire a lawyer to
prosecute the case?
The same goes for civil family matters.
By replacing government-funded lawyers with paralegals for
prosecuting criminal matters and representing the ministry and the
enforcement program in family matters, the government could save
taxpayers far more than it does denying poor people legal aid.
David W. Dickinson Legal advocate, Upper Skeena Counselling and
Legal Assistance Society, Hazelton
RCMP officers display a Hells Angels vest in Richmond, B.C. in this
handout photo. (CP PHOTO/HO/BC RCMP)
Font-size: Share Print Comments(6)
By: Gary Mason, ctvbc.ca
The trial of Allen Dalstrom versus the Organized Crime Agency of
B.C. had been under way in B.C. Supreme Court for only a few days
when lawyers representing both sides approached Madam Justice
Catherine Wedge asking for a temporary adjournment.
It was granted. And although no one knew it then, a
wrongful-dismissal case that threatened to level serious allegations
of misconduct against high-ranking RCMP members would never resume.
The Globe and Mail has now learned that $2-million of B.C.
taxpayers' money was used to quietly end the affair in September,
2008. The secret arrangement was hatched on the courthouse steps
during a break in the proceedings. Lawyers for the Crown approached
Kevin Woodall, Mr. Dalstrom's lawyer, saying it was not in the
public interest for the trial to go ahead.
At the time, the RCMP could not afford more damning headlines, given
that support for Canada's national police force was at an all-time
low after the tasering death of Robert Dziekanski one year earlier.
On top of that, there were the in-custody deaths of Ian Bush and
Kevin St. Arnaud that had raised serious questions about the conduct
of the force in B.C. The turmoil rocking the RCMP has continued,
most recently with the scathing findings of the commission set up to
investigate Mr. Dziekanski's death, and the similarly damning report
from the Air India commission.
The terms of the settlement were buried in a Crown Proceeding Act
Report ending fiscal 2009, which said the province and OCABC
accepted the plaintiff's offer to settle for $1.3-million plus
salary and benefits, with the province contributing $550,000 and
OCABC paying $750,000 plus salary and benefits for the six-year
period outlined in the agreement. Mr. Dalstrom was making about
$100,000 a year as an investigator, which puts the amount of the
settlement over $2-million when benefits are factored in.
In November, 2008, Mr. Dalstrom received a written apology from
OCABC, which is funded by the B.C. government. In essence, B.C.
taxpayers were on the hook for the entire $2-million payout.
In exchange for walking away a rich man, the only promise the
plaintiff made was to never reveal the terms of the offer or discuss
details of the ugly internecine war many believe was ignited by the
RCMP inside the walls of the OCABC, a joint operation between the
Mounties and municipal police.
Today, few who played a part in the story are willing to talk about
the events that destroyed the career of one of Canada's most
accomplished gang investigators. That list includes the B.C.
Solicitor-General's office, the RCMP and senior Mounties who have
Mr. Woodall issued a statement on his former client's behalf that
read in part: "The events surrounding Mr. Dalstrom's dismissal from
(OCABC) … were very painful for Mr. Dalstrom's family. … He does not
wish to make any further comment on this difficult period."
Still, a transcript of Mr. Woodall's opening submission at trial
obtained by The Globe lays out Mr. Dalstrom's case against his
former employer. And while it is only the plaintiff's version of
events, it makes clear why the Mounties might have worried about the
trial going further.
According to Mr. Woodall's opening statements, Allen Dalstrom's
troubles began when he opposed the RCMP's attempt to shut down a
major drug investigation by the OCABC. Mr. Dalstrom was the lead
investigator on the probe, called Project Phoenix, which was
targeting Hells Angels.
The RCMP, though it had officers on the OCABC, was upset that
Phoenix might jeopardize its own parallel undercover drug
investigation. It is widely believed that Mr. Dalstrom's successful
defence of Phoenix earned him the eternal enmity of the RCMP.
Three RCMP officers would eventually be assigned to Phoenix, and
months afterward allegations began being leveled against Mr.
Dalstrom. One RCMP officer said Mr. Dalstrom urged him to massage
wiretap affidavits to give them a better chance of succeeding before
a judge. Mr. Dalstrom was accused of harassing and intimidating
another RCMP officer at the agency. It was also alleged he sexually
harassed a female civilian employee.
Mr. Dalstrom was cleared of all those allegations, and Phoenix
resulted in scores of drug seizures. But the infighting eventually
doomed the project, and charges were never laid.
The fighting worsened after a book by Julian Sher, The Road to Hell,
came out with a quote from an OCABC insider about how the RCMP
viewed the joint operation as an affront to the force's
prerogatives: "We are seen as infringing on their exclusive
bailiwick of federal policing and organized crime policing, and they
have done fuck all here for 25 years."
The hunt was on to find out who it came from, the suspicion falling
on Mr. Dalstrom, who confirmed he'd talked to Mr. Sher but denied
saying those words.
After that, life was even more difficult for Mr. Dalstrom at OCABC.
He was put on administrative leave on Feb. 5, 2004, ostensibly
because there wasn't anything suitable for him to do in the
organization. In July of that year he was terminated, with no
explanation. In April, 2006, he filed his wrongful-dismissal suit.
The case promised to make for some uncomfortable time in the witness
box for Bev Busson, who headed the RCMP's ‘E' Division in Vancouver
and was chair of OCABC's board of governance when Mr. Dalstrom
worked for the agency. (After briefly serving as commissioner of the
RCMP in Ottawa in 2006-07, Ms. Busson retired.)
According to Mr. Woodall's opening submission, it was Ms. Busson and
David Douglas, a career Mountie from Manitoba who was retired from
the force when he became chief officer of OCABC, who "entered a
secret agreement" to get Mr. Dalstrom fired. Mr. Woodall also said
there was expected to be evidence that Mr. Douglas threatened to
"starve" Mr. Dalstrom out by dragging the court case on while the
unemployed officer's legal bills piled up. It was also alleged that
Mr. Douglas wanted Mr. Dalstrom to know that, if he sued for
wrongful dismissal, the unproven allegations of sexual misconduct
would be raised in court.
Andy Richards was Mr. Dalstrom's supervisor during the plaintiff's
time at OCABC. Mr. Richards, now a senior ranking officer with the
Port Moody, B.C., municipal police, had a front-row seat on the
unsightly antics allegedly being cooked up to get rid of a respected
investigator. In an interview, he said he was asked to change Mr.
Dalstrom's employee performance appraisal to make it less
flattering. Mr. Richards refused. He said statements Mr. Douglas was
alleged to have made about "starving" Mr. Dalstrom out and bringing
up the unfounded sexual misconduct allegations were made in his
Asked why he thought such a lavish out-of-court settlement was
offered to Mr. Dalstrom, Mr. Richards said: "I think OCABC and the
government wanted all that nastiness and RCMP dirty tricks to remain
a secret." He added: "It really is one of the sorriest chapters in
our policing history in this province."
Al Dalstrom now lives in a Vancouver suburb with his wife and two
children. He has never returned to policing, and works in the
Gary Mason is a columnist for The Globe and Mail. For more news and
stories from the Globe's B.C. bureau please visit The Globe and
Mail's B.C. website.
Watch CTV News at Five and Six on Wednesday for an exclusive report
from CTV British Columbia's Lisa Rossington
A Kelowna man with a violent past has been sentenced for the brutal
killings of his common-law spouse and her child.
In December 2008, Nick Coopper, then 27, killed 19-month-old Ayden
Miller and his mother Karen Smith, 28, in their Rutland home.
During Friday's sentencing, the court heard how Smith was at work
and how Coopper was on an alcohol and meth binge when he lost his
temper after Ayden began to cry. He killed Ayden with his bare
hands, put him in a plastic bag and then in a duffel bag. Smith came
home from the work and inquired about Ayden before going to bed.
Coopper assured Smith that the child was alright.
Coopper stayed up all night, mulled over his crime while playing
video games and decided that Smith should not learn about Ayden's
death. He beat her to death with a 30 pound dumbbell while she
slept. She put up a struggle but Coopper suffocated her with a
plastic bag. He later attempted suicide by slashing himself with a
It was Smith's mother, Marla, who found her daughter's lifeless
Ayden's death carried a manslaughter charge because the authorities
determined it wasn't intentional while Smith's death lead to a
charge of second-degree murder, which means an automatic life
sentence. Coopper plead guilty to both charges. He was sentenced to
15 years for killing Ayden and must serve a minimum of 20 years
before he can apply for parole for Smith's murder. The sentences are
to be served concurrently – meaning at the same time.
wasn't Coopper's first killing. Shortly before killing
Smith and her son, Coopper had been released from prison for a 2001
manslaughter conviction where he
eight years after stabbing a man to death during a
fight. While serving his term, Coopper became addicted to heroin and
methamphetamine. During sentencing, the
judge took a shot at Corrections Canada, blaming the institution for
allowing prisoners like Coopper to have access to drugs and alcohol
while serving their sentences.
Insp. Brad Desmarais of the Vancouver Police, former Public Safety
Minister Kash Heed and Supt. Bill McKinnon of the Kelowna RCMP show
body armour seized in Vancouver at the B.C. legislature, Oct. 20,
Tom Fletcher/Black Press
VICTORIA – Canada's first restrictions on
sale and possession of soft body armour have taken effect in B.C.,
and two other provinces are also trying to deprive gang members of
one of their status symbols.
B.C. passed legislation last fall to require a permit to buy body
armour, and those who currently own or sell it, have six months from
July 1 to pass a criminal record check and obtain a permit. Police
can now confiscate body armour from those who don't have a permit or
Alberta passed legislation this spring to create similar
restrictions, and Manitoba has introduced legislation. Opposition
critics in Alberta compared the permit plan with the federal
government's costly long-gun registry, and security experts noted
that body armour can be bought from the U.S. or overseas through
websites that promise world-wide shipping.
The B.C. law exempts police officers, sheriffs, corrections
officers, conservation officers, armoured car guards, security
guards, security consultants and private investigators.
Out-of-province individuals who require body armour to work have to
apply for a 90-day permit exemption.
When the bill was introduced, former public safety minister Kash
Heed said the government expected few applications for permits, such
as for gang associates in protective custody in order to testify in
Vancouver Police encountered people with body armour and no
legitimate use for it 230 times between 2002 and 2009.
Early this year, the Ministry of the Attorney General quietly
introduced a fee structure for accessing criminal court records
online. A charge of $6 would be levied each time a file or document
The justification was the recovery of some of the costs associated
with providing the online service, and to discourage frivolous
For most people, it was an initiative of seemingly little
significance, affecting perhaps only those who worked in legal
circles. In fact, it carried the potential of profound public
Court records contain critical public information.
The media relies heavily on that to keep the public informed about
criminal justice proceedings, individuals who run afoul of the law
and the context of their crimes.
When someone is charged with a serious offence, does that person
have a previous criminal record? Is he or she connected with
criminal organizations or other activities?
Although that information can be accessed in person at court houses,
many towns are served by court facilities in communities long
The cumulative cost of frequent and numerous court record searches
was prohibitive, especially for smaller papers.
The potential result was restricted access, less detailed reporting
and a less informed public.
Over the past several months, various media organizations, including
Black Press, lobbied Attorney General Mike de Jong to rescind the
Last week, the AG announced the online fee would be scrapped as of
It was a commendable decision, ultimately made in the public
Not-for-profit organizations will soon have to pay more for criminal
City Council approved the higher higher fees Monday.
The new fees will pertain to everything from background checks and
fingerprint checks to chauffeur licences, accident and traffic
Client Services Supervisor, Anita Rideout, says the cost of
processing police service requests is no longer offset by the fees
Rideout says the increases adopted by council would provide
sufficient revenue for cost recovery.
"We have seen since 2000 a 57% increase in criminal search
applications and there has been an increase of 147% in fingerprint
applications processed at the RCMP Detachment," says Rideout.
"There has also been an increase in the human resource expenditure
to process the applications. In 2000, the cost was $20.92 an hour to
process the applications and in 2009 the human resource cost
increased to $36.61 an hour."
The increases approved by council include:
•Criminal record search for profit organizations - $30 to $40
•Criminal record search for non-profits - $15 to $20
•Request for fingerprints - $25 to $30
•Chauffeur permit - $30 to $40
•Police report - $30 to $40
•Accident report - $30 to $40
•Polygraph examination report - $30 to $40
•Traffic analyst report (booklet) per incident - $50 to $65
•Traffic analyst report (1 page) per incident - $10 to $15
•Audio tape per call - $25 to $30
•Video tape per incident - $25 to $30.
Rideout says as part of the increase, it is recommended that the
limit of 10 criminal background check applications for non-profit
organizations be dropped.
"This will have a benefit to about 20 not-for-profit organizations
within the Kelowna area."
While criminal background and fingerprint information is regularly
requested by companies and organizations, Rideout says most of the
other information requested from police comes from law firms.
Gladys Radek, founder of Walk4Justice, has taken up the challenge of
raising awareness for the 2,900 missing or murdered women and
children in Canada.
Radek and five others left Kamloops on June 22 and are strolling
through the Okanagan this weekend on their way to Winnipeg.
“We are walking for justice because there are far too many missing
and murdered women in Canada,” says Radek.
“There is a problem here in Canada, where violence against women is
socially accepted. We want to raise the awareness that women are not
going to take this anymore.”
Radek's niece, 22-year-old Tamara Lynn Chipman, went missing in
September 2005 on Highway 16, the 'highway of tears,' near Prince
The investigation into Chipman's disappearance lasted about a year,
“Now everything has just gone cold. There's no justice, no closure,
no equality, and no accountability.”
There needs to be an official public inquiry into all missing and
murdered women and children cases, Radek says.
“Our voices are getting louder, but we are having a heck of a
time getting the government to move. The government is responsible
for the citizens of Canada.We don't
know if they're actively investigating, we don't know if they care,
we don't know anything.”
In addition, Radek is hoping for a national missing and murdered
women's symposium in Vancouver.
At 75, Mabel Todd made up her mind to join the Walk4Justice and
shows no sign of stopping.
“My friends say I'm too old. I'm never too old,” Todd says.
In 2008, she participated in a similar walk from Victoria to Ottawa.
“I just made up my mind to do something special for our women and
children. My hope is that justice will be done for the families, so
they can have peace of mind.”
Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Richard Fadden.
Critics are questioning a bombshell claim by the Canadian
Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) that civic politicians in B.C.
may be acting as puppets for foreign powers.
SFU security expert Andre Gerolymatos said the comments by the head
of Canada's spy agency seems to have blown the cover on any effort
underway to gather evidence, while angering virtually all
"It's unfair for people in government in British Columbia – both at
the provincial and municipal level – who are now under a cloud,"
Gerolymatos said. "He didn't say who, so we can now suspect everyone
from the premier on down."
CSIS director Richard Fadden told CBC News several unidentified
municipal politicians in B.C. and cabinet ministers in two provinces
are suspected of being agents of influence for foreign governments.
Fadden said local politicians may be courted early in their careers
with free trips and a cozy relationship can help curry favour and
influence decision making to the benefit of the foreign power.
He didn't name politicians, cities or foreign countries, but hinted
China was involved.
"Why do it publicly?" Gerolymatos asked. "If these people are truly
working for other governments or supporting other governments, then
they should be brought to justice."
He said the timing of the statement suggests the real goal is to
deflect attention from new findings CSIS badly bungled the Air India
Today is the 25th anniversary of the bombings that killed 331
Fadden issued a follow-up statement today saying CSIS routinely
investigates threats to national security, including foreign
interference, which he said is common problem around the world.
"At this point, CSIS has not deemed the cases to be of sufficient
concern to bring them to the attention of provincial authorities,"
he said. "There will be no further comments on these operational
Premier Gordon Campbell called Fadden's allegations "unprofessional
and unprecedented" and demanded he fully explain his comments.
"I think we have to hear what justifications there are for these
kinds of doubts being cast and aspersions being cast on people that
are trying to serve the public," Campbell said.
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said she was "taken aback" and called it a
"bizarre" turn of events.
"It's a little irresponsible to toss those comments out and then not
comment any further on it," she said.
Union of B.C. Municipalities first vice-president Barbara Steele, a
Surrey councillor, also said CSIS has left the 1,600 men and women
elected to civic office in B.C. under a cloud.
"The accusations are unfair," she said. "This matter hasn't been
handled very well at all."
Election finance reform advocate Kennedy Stewart, also a researcher
at SFU, does not doubt other countries could influence civic
governments in B.C., because of the loose laws governing campaign
Nothing stops a foreign donor from contributing huge amounts, even
"We do know that sizable amounts of money have come into the
electoral process," he said, adding one Vancouver councillor got a
donation of $80,000 from a Taiwanese businessman.
Although donations must be disclosed in civic election campaigns,
Stewart said there are no such rules governing nomination races
within civic parties to be named to the slate of candidates.
Stewart said there are "lots of reasons" why foreign governments
might want to court civic leaders, from the continued interest of
China in buying up access to Canadian resources to issues relating
to property development.
"You want friendly people in government who might help you with
trade relationships, tip you off on upcoming legislation changes –
those kinds of things."
He said the CSIS allegations add to the "wild west" sense that
anything goes in B.C. politics.
Stewart called on the provincial government to ban foreign
contributions to civic campaigns and also outlaw corporate and union
No restriction on foreign donors was proposed when a campaign
finance task force reported back this spring, but the government has
not yet introduced legislation.
Early this year, the Ministry of the Attorney General quietly
introduced a fee structure for accessing criminal court records
online. A charge of $6 would be levied each time a file or document
The justification was the recovery of some of the costs associated
with providing the online service, and to discourage frivolous
For most people, it was an initiative of seemingly little
significance, affecting perhaps only those who worked in legal
circles. In fact, it carried the potential of profound public
Court records contain critical public information.
The media relies heavily on that to keep the public informed about
criminal justice proceedings, individuals who run afoul of the law
and the context of their crimes.
When someone is charged with a serious offence, does that person
have a previous criminal record? Is he or she connected with
criminal organizations or other activities?
Although that information can be accessed in person at court houses,
many towns are served by court facilities in communities long
The cumulative cost of frequent and numerous court record searches
was prohibitive, especially for smaller papers.
The potential result was restricted access, less detailed reporting
and a less informed public.
Over the past several months, various media organizations, including
Black Press, lobbied Attorney General Mike de Jong to rescind the
Last week, the AG announced the online fee would be scrapped as of
It was a commendable decision, ultimately made in the public
The judge had some sympathy for the man convicted
of arson but, in the end, he couldn’t have the man “running loose
Judge Vincent Hogan sentenced Troy Ross Niehaus, 36, to three years
in jail in Vernon Provincial Court Wednesday, after finding Niehaus
guilty of arson in connection with a fire at the Orchard Valley
Retirement Residence on Sept. 20, 2009.
He credited the Vernon man with 18 months time served.
“His life has been out of control since suffering a brain injury,
and I fear for him and I fear for the future of the community,” said
Hogan before imposing the sentence.
“Taking into account all of the factors, sad as they may be, I think
three years in prison is appropriate. I’m sad for him, but I can’t
have Mr. Niehaus running loose with lighters.”
Niehaus was arrested on the same night as the fire, a short distance
away from the retirement residence.
The blaze forced evacuation of all the residents – some in their 80s
and 90s – and staff, and caused approximately $78,000 in damage.
Hogan found Niehaus guilty of the charge following a trial, stating
he was particularly troubled by a Crown witness’ statement that
Niehaus reportedly said “seniors make good firestarters.”
Niehaus, who was brain injured in a 1996 motor vehicle accident,
claimed the fire was an accident, and reiterated that again when
given the chance to address the court before sentencing, blaming a
“I’m sorry for lighting the fire, but it was an accident,” said
Crown counsel Howard Pontious was seeking a jail term of
two-to-three years, pointing out Niehaus was on probation for
another matter when he started the Orchard Valley fire.
Pontious referred to a pair of pre-sentence and psychological
reports that painted a troubling picture of the accused.
“He shows a remarkable lack of insight, extreme impulsivity and is
unresponsive to treatment,” said Pontious, reading from one of the
reports. “There’s been a steady downward trajectory for Mr. Niehaus
in the last 18 months. He’s a very high risk to re-offend.”
Niehaus was also labelled a pyromaniac in one report.
Defence lawyer Christine Wells told the court that her client spent
a great deal of time caring for his elderly mother, disabled by a
serious stroke, and that “doing time” has proved to be very
difficult for Niehaus.
“He’s been in the special needs section of KRCC (Kamloops Regional
Correction Centre), and he won’t be very safe if put into the
general population,” said Wells, stating her concern for her
“You talk about the community needing protection. Mr. Niehaus does
While he expressed sympathy for Niehaus’s life – “he never asked for
the brain injury” – and acknowledged he helped look after his ailing
mom, Hogan took into account that the fire was started while Niehaus
was on probation; that he had a history of offences while on
probation; that he had substance abuse issues; and that he had
resisted the hand of the community who tried to help him.
Hogan also imposed a lifetime firearms prohibition on Niehaus, and
ordered him to provide a DNA sample.
More Images » Marc Emery kisses wife Jody before he enters B.C.
Supreme Court to surrender to U.S. authorities.Photograph by: Bill
Keay, PNGShortly after pot activist Marc Emery turned himself in to
police custody Monday morning, he was informed that the federal
justice minister had ordered his extradition to the United States.
The self-proclaimed “Prince of Pot” has been on bail since the fall,
while facing a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to
conspiracy to manufacture marijuana in the U.S.
The charges against Emery and two of his associates at his Culture
Cannabis store on Hastings Street in Vancouver arose from them
selling marijuana seeds across the border.
“I think there’s a great deal of shock and disappointment,” said
Emery’s lawyer, Kirk Tousaw over the phone. “It’s clear to me that
this is deeply unpopular move by the Conservative government.”
Tousaw said Emery will likely be transferred across the border
sometime this week, but there is a chance that the activist might
serve his sentence in Canada,
Based on a treaty Canada has with the United States over the
transfer of prisoners, Tousaw said his client must be convicted in
the U.S. and that country must then support the transfer.
“We have been advised that the U.S. will support the treaty
transfer,” Tousaw said. The decision will then go to Canada’s public
safety minister, but Tousaw said it’s “really impossible” to say
when Emery could return to his home country.
Emery spoke to reporters outside B.C. Supreme Court Monday morning.
“There is nothing to be gained by this government for extraditing
me,” said Emery as he stood with his wife, Jodie, in front of
supporters bearing flags and signs. Canadians will be “very, very
angry” if he is sent to the U.S., he added because it will mean the
minister will have turned a “tin ear” to the country’s sovereignty.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Press is reporting that a briefing memo from
Nicholson’s office reveals that a U.S. drug-enforcement agent posed
as a marijuana seed buyer to secure charges against Emery. The memo,
dated Feb. 10, 2010 and obtained by Emery’s lawyer by a Freedom of
Information request, also notes that the federal government has
received thousands of letters is support of Emery not being
extradited to the U.S.
Kash Heed finds himself out of cabinet again, just hours after he
Tom Fletcher/Black Press
VICTORIA – Vancouver-Fraserview MLA Kash Heed has
"stepped aside" again, just hours after being reinstated as Minister
of Public Safety and Solicitor General by Premier Gordon Campbell.
Heed said Wednesday morning he reconsidered overnight after the
special prosecutor investigating his local election campaign
suddenly withdrew from the case. Vancouver
lawyer Terrence Robertson cleared Heed of any involvement in
Election Act violations on Monday, then disclosed Tuesday that his
law firm had donated to the Vancouver-Fraserview B.C. Liberal
campaign last spring.
Belatedly acknowledging that as a conflict of interest, Robertson
withdrew from the prosecution of Heed's campaign manager and
financial agent and a third man in connection with an anti-NDP
pamphlet that violated Election Act laws.
Calling the prosecutor's actions "bizarre," Heed said he spoke to
Premier Gordon Campbell Wednesday morning to tell him he was
stepping down again.
Reached by phone Wednesday from his trade visit to Belgium, Campbell
said he acted appropriately based on the recommendation on charges
received from the special prosecutor on Monday.
"After giving it 24 hours – we had the report, we read the report –
I felt there had been time for anyone who had any concerns in
criminal justice [branch] or the attorney general or anywhere to
raise those issues," Campbell said. "None were raised and I felt
that it was appropriate to reappoint."
Heed was sworn in by Lieutenant Governor Steven Point on Tuesday
evening, but after getting home to Vancouver he said he discussed
the matter with his wife and reconsidered.
NDP public safety critic Mike Farnworth called the latest twist in
the case "extremely disturbing.
"Right from when the allegations broke, we've seen denial by Mr.
Heed that his campaign would be involved," Farnworth said. "We've
seen no acknowledgment by the premier of the seriousness of these
allegations, we've seen no remorse whatsoever."
Robertson had second thoughts after police discovered the donation
from Harper Grey LLP and interviewed him about it, but decided to
proceed with the charge assessment anyway, Robertson explained in a
letter to the attorney general's ministry.
"Given that charges were not approved against
Kash Heed and upon further reflection, I have concluded that my
continuing as special prosecutor on this matter may well provoke
comment from the public and the media as to whether I am
sufficiently independent to act as special prosecutor in this matter,"
Robertson wrote in a letter to assistant deputy attorney general
Vancouver-Fraserview MLA Kash Heed speaks to reporters at the
legislature April 12, after resigning as public safety minister.
Tom Fletcher/Black Press
VICTORIA – Charges of violating the Election Act have been laid against
three people associated with Vancouver-Fraserview MLA Kash Heed's
campaign, but the former public safety minister has been cleared.
Special prosecutor Terrence Robertson was called in to examine
complaints that emerged from the May 2009 election campaign, where
anonymous brochures were distributed that targeted the NDP's
position on crime and tax issues.
Robertson reported Monday that charges have been laid against
Barinder Singh Sall, Heed's campaign manager, his financial agent
Satpal Johl, and Dinesh Khanna, whose print shop produced the
brochures. Sall and Khanna also face Criminal Code charges for
obstruction of justice and creating a false document, while Johl is
charged with a single count of making a false election finance
Police statements to the prosecutor describe a fictitious name and
phone number that was provided to Elections BC and to police
investigating complaints about the brochures. Written in Cantonese
and English, the mailers alleged that an NDP government would
legalize prostitution and drugs, and impose a "death tax" on
"On the evidence presented to the special prosecutor, there is no
evidence that Mr. Heed was either involved in the production of the
pamphlets or had direct knowledge of the pamphlets or the allegedly
fraudulent advertising sponsor form," the Criminal Justice Branch of
the Ministry of the Attorney General said in a statement Monday.
Heed, a former Vancouver Police gang squad leader and chief in West
Vancouver, stepped down in early April after the appointment of the
special prosecutor was revealed to him. He has denied any knowledge
of the brochure's distribution.
B.C.’s tougher impaired driving rules have the full endorsement of
Vernon’s top cop.
Under proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act, police will be
able to impose an immediate penalty on anyone who fails a roadside
Instead of issuing a 24-hour suspension, police will be able to
impose a 90-day driving ban, a $500 fine and impound the vehicle for
“We think it’s a great idea,” said Supt. Reg Burgess, with the
Vernon/North Okanagan RCMP detachment.
“We like the fact it’s a strong deterrent as impaired driving is
still a major concern despite all the awareness we have put out.
We’re very happy to see this new legislation.”
Under the proposed legislation, the fee for reinstating a suspended
licence will be increased from $100 to $250, and drivers will also
be billed $700 for towing and 30 days of vehicle impoundment.
Failing a roadside test will also mean mandatory participation in
B.C.’s “responsible driver program” at a cost of $1,420.
The changes mean one roadside test could cost a driver $3,750 before
driving again, and that is before any criminal code charges and
suspensions that may also result.
The legislation also provides for a three-day driving ban and a $200
administrative penalty for someone who blows a “warn” reading
between .05 and .08 on a roadside screening device.
This usually results in a 24-hour suspension under current laws.
Three “warn” ratings within five years could result in a 30-day ban
and $400 penalty.
Mike de Jong, acting Public Safety Minister, calls the new penalties
“swift, severe, and the toughest in the country.”
Announcing the changes at the Legislature Tuesday, de Jong was
flanked by police officers from around the province, and a couple
whose daughter was struck and killed two years ago by a driver
charged with impaired driving.
Four-year-old Alexa Middelaer was feeding horses at the roadside in
Delta when she was killed in 2008.
The driver in the incident is scheduled to go to trial in May.
Her parents said they were grateful that the latest changes were
dedicated to their daughter’s memory.
“This does provide a real hope, and I have to say today has been
really inspiring,” Laurel Middelaer said.
De Jong said 30 years of “counterattack” promotion and enforcement
in B.C. has got the message through to most drivers, but about one
in 30 still drinks and drives, and cases have begun to increase in
— with files from Black Press reporter Tom Fletcher
Attorney-General Mike de Jong says the new law will help make sure
police are notified quickly when a crime has been committed.
Tom Fletcher/Black Press
VICTORIA – B.C. is one of the last provinces in Canada to make it
mandatory for medical facilities to report gunshot wounds to police.
Attorney General Mike de Jong introduced the legislation Monday,
more than a year after it was promised by Premier Gordon Campbell's
pre-election crime strategy. The B.C. legislation is similar to that
of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, leaving the reporting of stab
wounds to the discretion of health care facilities.
Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec have laws requiring only the
reporting of gunshot wounds.
De Jong said B.C. hospitals have long had protocols with local
police agencies, to report the treatment of any wounds that suggest
criminal activity. The law formalizes that requirement, and also is
designed to "spread the net" beyond hospitals to clinics, doctors'
offices and even their homes if they receive patients there.
"Situations would arise where police would find out some time after
the fact about an individual coming in with a gunshot wound, and
[there was] uncertainty on the part of health care facilities about
just what their obligations are," de Jong said.
NDP public safety critic Mike Farnworth said the opposition supports
the legislation in principle. But he's suspicious about the timing.
"This is something we've called for in the past, it's something the
government announced 14 months ago, and I just have to ask why it's
taken so long," Farnworth said. "And maybe it's one of those things
they thought they'd trot out to divert attention away from
accidentally shooting themselves in the foot over the HST."
De Jong said the government isn't going to create a new offence to
use against medical professionals who fail to report suspicious
wounds. Professional organizations such as the College of Physicians
and Surgeons will police their own members, as they do with other
ethical violations of the public interest.
A Houston woman has dropped her lawsuit against the RCMP related to
the shooting death of her son in a Houston jail cell five years ago.
Linda Bush held a joint press conference with RCMP this morning to
say she's exhausted herself and her finances in pursuing the suit.
She said she spent more than $100,000, and all proceeds from her
son's life insurance.
Ian Bush was shot during a struggle with an RCMP officer in a
Houston jail cell in 2005.
The announcement was made this morning at a Vancouver press
conference with RCMP Chief Superintendent Craig Callens.
"I know that many people, including some who are very close to me,
will be very disappointed with this decision," said Linda.
"I do, however, need to make the decision after considering what
makes the most sense."
In a released statement she continues that the inquest following her
son's death in police custody in Houston five years ago was "an
exercise in frustration for the family," and that court would hear
The civil case was meant to expose flaws in the current system but
she said she thinks that has already been done now.
What is the most essential now, she said, is the legislation that
will create civilian investigation.
Linda said that Bill C472, introduced into parliament by Skeena-Bulkley
Valley MP Nathan Cullen, would provide civilian investigation for
the RCMP anywhere in Canada if passed.
"I would like to see a national standard, at the least, for
investigating the RCMP," she said. "There are many difficulties with
the RCMP Act itself, as it has not been revised for many years."
Callens thanked Linda for her ongoing input and said that her
efforts have contributed to the improvements that have been made at
the Houston detachment since Ian's death.
"I can only imagine how emotionally difficult this has been for you
and your family," he said.
Changes that have been made with her help include external
investigation, review and oversight of serious incidents involving
RCMP members and employees, and the installation of video recording
equipment in RCMP buildings.
"We both agree that these changes are needed in order to enhance the
transparency of police operations and to provide a means for greater
accountability to the public," he said.
The goal, he continued, is to enhance public trust and confidence in
He noted that the first significant change that came directly from
the incident with Ian Bush involved independent oversight of
investigations by the RCMP in B.C. involving high-profile and
serious incidents such as in-custody deaths.
In 2006 the Commission for Public Complaints Independent Observer
Program started as a three-year pilot project.
In September 2009 the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police made a
resolution that called for the establishment of an independent,
civilian-led investigation agency to investigate serious incidents
involving the police, he said.
Work is underway to achieve this goal, said Callens, and the RCMP
have taken the interim measure to implement a new national policy to
address the issue of external investigations.
"The intent of the policy is to ensure fair, effective, thorough and
impartial investigations of RCMP employees through a combination of
independent external investigation, observation and review," he
Vancouver police chief Jim Chu at the Chinese New Year parade in
Stephen HuiVancouver Police Department Chief Constable Jim Chu
issued the following statement today (April 21):
I have something to share with you today that I know you will find
as shocking and disturbing as I do.
Just a few hours ago we arrested one of our own, 31-year-old
Constable Peter Hodson, and charged him along with his co-accused,
Oscar Lapitan, with trafficking marijuana.
Hodson is also facing three more charges, including two counts of
breach of trust, one for selling drugs and the other for the illegal
use of a police database. In addition, he was charged with break and
enter with the intent to commit extortion – this charge is connected
with street-level drug trafficking allegations. These offenses
happened between December 4, 2009 and April 20, 2010.
Hodson has been a member of the VPD for fewer than five years. You
may remember him from a year-and-a-half ago when we told you that he
was observed driving erratically by police and was charged with
impaired driving. That matter is still before the courts.
When we learned just two months ago that there were new allegations
against this officer, we took immediate steps to initiate an
We knew we had a case that would alarm the Department and the
public. We had to take immediate and thorough action to determine
whether the allegations were true and if they were, if the rot was
confined to this one officer.
We assembled a top investigative team including some members from
Project Rebellion, which you may remember had essentially dismantled
the Sanghera Gang. A special office was created off-site from our
regular facilities to ensure the integrity of the investigation.
Over the course of the investigation we had as many as 30 officers
working on the case, including investigators from our Professional
Standards Unit, Major Crime Section, and other experts within the
But even then, we decided to go further to ensure that nothing was
missed. We asked the RCMP for assistance and senior investigative
oversight. Today, I would like to thank publicly the RCMP for
providing front line assistance, and I thank particularly RCMP
Superintendant Brian Cantera for his senior investigative insights,
and he joins me today.
As we proceeded with this investigation, we informed the Office of
the Police Complaints Commissioner for their information and
civilian oversight. We continued to keep them updated as the case
The investigation involved many people and many resources and what
we found was disturbing and disgraceful.
While I can’t discuss many of the details because they are before
the courts, I can tell you that we observed behaviour that suggested
Hodson was trafficking street level amounts of marijuana both on and
There will be no discussion here of discipline or suspension.
I have taken the step of firing Hodson as of today.
He is no longer a member of this Department.
We put many more resources into this investigation than we ever
would for the average street-level dope dealer, including assistance
from specialized units of the RCMP. We did that to ensure we didn’t
This joint investigation revealed no evidence that this was anything
more than the actions of a single rogue officer.
I want to reassure the public that the integrity of the VPD, while
shaken by this abhorrent incident, has not been broken.
The members who were aware of Hodson's conduct saw his actions as
deplorable and it strengthened their resolve to gather evidence to
support criminal charges and to rid the VPD of his presence.
I am proud of the professionalism of the VPD investigators who
pursued this case with their usual creativity and perseverance. They
were relentless in their efforts to investigate these allegations as
thoroughly as possible, no matter where the investigation led.
If the actions of one bad apple in any way affects the trust our
residents have in their police department, then I want to sincerely
apologize on behalf of myself and all the men and women of the VPD,
sworn and civilian, who will be affected by this news.
Embattled former solicitor general Kash Heed is facing another
challenge, after his former constituency assistant filed a wrongful
dismissal suit this week.
Keith Frew filed the complaint in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday,
claiming "mental distress" after he was fired on February 5.
According to a copy of the lawsuit, Frew had worked as a
constituency assistant since 2001, starting out in the
Vancouver-Kingsway riding before switching to Vancouver-Fraserview,
where Heed was elected as MLA in 2009.
Frew describes himself as a "valuable and reliable employee" who
"faithfully and diligently performed his duties" in his statement of
He claims he was fired without cause or reasonable notice -- the
termination became official 21 days after he was notified by letter.
Frew also says that Heed never met with him to discuss his job
performance and was "abrupt and rude" during the firing.
There is no mention in the statement of claim of the RCMP
investigation into Heed's election campaign that prompted him to
step down from his position on April 9.
Frew is seeking unspecified damages in the suit. Heed has 14 days
after the filing of the claim to respond with a statement of
Vancouver-Fraserview MLA Kash Heed speaks to reporters at the
VICTORIA – Vancouver-Fraserview MLA Kash Heed says it wasn't
until after last spring's election that he first heard about the
campaign brochure that apparently led to his sudden departure from
Heed stepped down as public safety minister Friday, after he was
informed by an RCMP officer that he was part of a police
investigation into Elections Act violations during the May 2009
Vancouver-Fraserview NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu's campaign complained
to Elections BC after anonymous Chinese-language brochures were
delivered to voters in the final days of the election. The brochures
claimed the NDP supported legalizing drugs and prostitution, and
also supported an inheritance tax, ideas known to be widely opposed
in B.C.'s Chinese community.
An English portion of the brochure claimed "NDP promises could
legalize drugs," increase the price of beer and impose a "death
tax." The brochure is crudely illustrated with pictures of coffins
and injection drug users, using the letters NDP to stand for
"negative, destructive, painful."
Heed said Monday he only heard about the brochures after the
election, from a Chinese newspaper that was brought to his campaign
office after he had won the Vancouver-Fraserview seat by a narrow
margin. He said he paid little attention to it, because "my campaign
would never endorse anything like that."
Heed said he has not yet been interviewed by the police about
possible Elections Act violations, but will co-operate fully and he
looks forward to being reinstated to cabinet.
Premier Gordon Campbell said Monday he didn't know about the
brochures until this past weekend, after he had accepted Heed's
Campbell has appointed B.C. Attorney General Mike de Jong to serve
as interim public safety minister.
B.C. Public Safety Minister Kash
Heed has resigned his cabinet post as the RCMP investigate possible
Elections Act violations in his election last year as MLA for
Premier Gordon Campbell has appointed Attorney-General Mike de Jong
to do double duty as acting public safety minister.
Heed issued a statement Friday afternoon, saying he was informed of
the investigation March 24, but was initially told he was not a
"On late Tuesday evening, April 6, while I was out of the country, I
was informed that the investigation was evolving and the RCMP want
to interview me to determine if I had any role in the allegations,"
On Wednesday Heed's lawyer determined that a special prosecutor had
been appointed, as is usual when a member of government may be
facing charges. Heed then told Premier Gordon Campbell he would be
stepping aside until the investigation is complete.
"I am confident that I have done nothing wrong," Heed said. "I fully
support the RCMP's efforts and will be co-operating fully with the
A former head of the Vancouver Police gang squad and police chief in
West Vancouver, Heed was a high-profile recruit last year for
Campbell's cabinet in the volatile public safety ministry,
responsible for police, jails and the Insurance Corp. of B.C.
It's the third resignation of a minister from that job in recent
years. Chilliwack MLA John Les resigned from cabinet two years ago
after a special prosecutor began looking into his possible role in
land deals while mayor of Chilliwack a decade ago, and Les is still
waiting for the outcome of that investigation.
Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen succeeded Les, then resigned
during the 2009 election campaign after he lost his driver's licence
for too many speeding tickets.
The criminal justice branch of the Attorney General's ministry
announced later Friday that Vancouver lawyer Terrance Robertson has
been serving as special prosecutor on the Vancouver-Fraserview case
since Jan. 12. Robertson was appointed the request of the RCMP to
examine "possible offences involving [Heed's] campaign office," the
branch said in a statement.
A Kelowna man on probation after apparently
spraying a police officer last year with what was believed to be
bear spray—-and getting shot in the process—has been arrested again
with bear spray, police say.
Police said Friday that officers encountered Mark Aaron Pauls, 25,
when they stopped a vehicle driven by him on Mills Road on April 1.
Police allege they found a can of bear spray and a long bladed knife
inside the vehicle. Also found was over 14 grams of methamphetamine
and a tiny amount of crack cocaine.
Const. Steve Holmes noted that Pauls is currently on probation after
being convicted of possession of a weapon and carrying a concealed
That conviction came in December, and included a sentence of two
months of jail time in addition to what he already served, and a
12-month probationary period.
The conviction stems from a Feb. 13, 2009, incident in which a plain
clothes police officer approached Pauls, who was wanted for parole
violations, in Rutland.
The officer was sprayed with what was believed to be bear spray and
a struggle, where shots were fired, ensued.
Pauls was shot in both legs, police reported at the time.
Since then, the officer, Const. Kent Hall, was charged with careless
use of a firearm.
His case was in court this past week, and is scheduled to return to
the Kelowna Law Courts on May 10.
Pauls, meanwhile, faces half a dozen new charges following his
arrest this month.
He remains in custody and is scheduled to be in court on Tuesday on
charges of failure to comply with a probation order, possession of a
controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking,
possession of stolen property and two counts of possession of a
weapon for a dangerous purpose.
Having read the Feb. 7 edition of the Capital News (No Day in Court)
I am again reminded that our current legal system has gone far
The recognition and protection of fundamental human rights in this
country goes back well beyond the formation of this country. For
example, the Magna Carta expressed the recognition of many of these
fundamental principles. In particular, and with reference to your
lead story, Article 40 states: “To none will we sell, to none deny
or delay, right or justice.” Yet, here we are in a system that
forces an individual to pay for right or justice.
It’s quite ironic when you realize that, if you are dealing with a
government entity (like the Canada Revenue Agency for example),
their legal counsel is the Department of Justice, another arm of
government. And you, as a taxpayer, are paying, through your taxes,
towards the salaries of their lawyers. So, in effect, you are paying
them to go to court against you and you have to pay for your own
legal counsel too.
So what happened along the way? Why is our legal system designed
this way? Why must one be forced to seek legal counsel to resolve
Simply put, we have forgotten who we are as human beings. And
although we are brought up to believe we have rights, when it comes
down to it, do you really know what they are? Growing up, we are not
taught at home or in school about the concept of rights and freedoms
as they apply to us as individuals in society. We know we have them
but, how does one go about exercising them, or defending oneself, if
one doesn’t know what they are?
Have you ever read a law or statute? If you ever attempted it, you
would quickly find that the language is very difficult for the
average individual (even some legal professionals) to comprehend. I
believe our legal/justice system has evolved to where our laws are
written this way so we are literally forced to seek legal counsel to
resolve our issues.
Why should it be this way? Why can’t our laws and legal system be
designed so the ordinary citizen can defend him or herself? Is it
complacency or laziness on our part or has our society been molded
so that the knowledge and awareness of who we are as human beings,
and the rights and freedoms we inherently possess, have been
intentionally suppressed until we cannot defend ourselves without
paying someone else to do it for us?
The office of a non-profit organization that provided legal
advice to those in Kelowna who could not afford it will soon be
The closure is the closest visible sign of a wider collision between
an increasing demand on legal services and a decline in the ability
to pay for them.
The Legal Aid office in Kelowna is located1664 Richter St. It is one
of the most recent victims to fall to budget cuts within the
non-profit Legal Services Society.
Similar regional offices in Kamloops, Prince George, Victoria and
Surrey along with the Justice Access Centre in Nanaimo are also on
the chopping block this year.
The offices are currently scheduled to close on April 1. The cuts
affect four positions in Kelowna and six in Kamloops, a mixture of
staff lawyers, paralegals and administrative support staff.
The Justice Access Centre provides legal information and advice to
people involved in separation and divorce.
This spring will also see the end of the civil LawLine service and
the Community Advocate Support Line.
LawLine is a telephone service designed to help low-income B.C.
residents who do not qualify for a legal aid lawyer.
Operators provide advice on debtor’s assistance, employment and
family law, health, estate law and seniors issues, housing law and
income security law-related issues.
The Community Advocate Support Line connects advocates with a lawyer
who will provide legal advice, coaching and information to help them
in their work on behalf of clients.
These telephone legal advice services are both scheduled to end on
Legal Services Society communications manager Brad Daisley said the
society is in the process of hiring local agents.
Those agents are intended to fulfill some of the duties office staff
currently do, including the provision of intake services to enable
local access to legal representation, providing public legal
education and information, providing legal advice, engaging in
outreach and liaison activities with community, Aboriginal and legal
groups and scheduling duty counsel.
Daisley noted that expressions of interest have been received from
those wishing to become local agents, and will continue to be
received up to Feb. 15.
According to the society’s estimated timeline, the agents would be
hired, trained and start offering services byMarch 29.
Legal Services Society executive director Mark Benton noted the cuts
are the by-product of the financial equivalent of a “perfect storm.”
He pointed out that as the recession began to occur, falling
interest rates dropped and took with them the interest-based funding
the LSS receives from trust accounts.
Benton added that two years ago, the LSS received $3 million just
from the Notary Foundation, and this year the expectation from that
funding source has been reduced to $200,000.
“It’s a very steep decline, and we were running a lot of our
discretionary programs from that funding.”
Benton said funding from the Law Foundation takes the form of an
annual grant, which the LSS continues to receive even though the
foundation is currently running into deficit spending.
He pointed out the government delivers more than 90 per cent of LSS
funding and continues to maintain their level of delivery.
“What we also saw as the recession started to set in was a very
marked increase in the demand for legal aid.”
Benton noted rising unemployment made more people eligible for legal
assistance. He added that when there is fiscal stress in the
economy, that stress is reflected in domestic relationships.
Benton said the LSS has seen a 20 per cent increase in the demand
for family law services.
“Our core funders, not withstanding their commitment, have been
hard-pressed to maintain funding.”
Benton said a third dimension of difficulty is added by the LSS no
longer being allowed to operate at a deficit, when the society had
been in deficit spending for the past two years.
“Right now, we are projecting a multi-million dollar operating
deficit. We need to balance that budget for next year.”
Benton said the situation spurred the LSS to look carefully at its
long-term plan and put limits on the amounts of service provided.
He noted the society’s principle focus now is on maintaining
services and reducing administrative costs.
Benton said these reductions have applied to a simplified billing
system for lawyers hired by LSS and also to a look at how the
society operates its legal aid application process.
He pointed out that moving the process to the province-wide call
centre was the cheapest way for the LSS to process applications from
people seeking assistance.
“They could apply either through the local agent or the phone
service, but the phone service will be the predominant way.”
Benton added that the move frees up funds from administration and
allows the LSS to put the money into services.
He noted the move to close regional offices and employ local agents
freed up more than $1 million.
Benton said the LSS looked at the range of services provided and
realized it needed to be realistic about revenue and service demand.
“Our vision of returning to the legal service model of before 2002
was not something we could realize in the future.”
Benton noted that such a return would require tens of millions of
dollars from government and private sources.
He said the LSS has restricted its focus to legal aid in criminal,
family, immigration and mental health matters.
Benton pointed out narrowing the focus of services provided allows
the society to do the best it can with the resources it has.
He said an increasing body of social science research notes timely
advice on legal problems can help avoid costs incurred on social
Benton added that the LSS does not believe that government and
private sources will be able to financially provide those services
in the current economic climate.
“I think there’s a much broader need for legal aid, but
realistically we have to focus our services on where we can make a
difference and where our government sets its priorities.”
Benton pointed out the LSS receives no government funding for civil
He said he had no doubt that there would be exceptional service from
local agents in Kelowna, but they would not match what was available
from the Legal Aid office.
He added that the closure was no reflection of the calibre of the
people working there.
The Kelowna law courts are the proving ground for one of the
society’s pilot projects to improve the delivery of duty counsel
Benton noted that the pilot project involves a single duty counsel
lawyer dealing exclusively with minor criminal offenses such as
breaches of probation or failures to appear in court.
He noted this is one of the areas where the LSS had limited service
in criminal law due to budget constraints.
Benton pointed out that national statistics show such minor offenses
as the fastest growing area of criminal offense, with a similar
trend reflected in B.C.
He said the final report on whether having a dedicated duty counsel
for such offences is more effective.
He noted costs are not reduced, but it may be a more efficient way
to operate and enhance the level of duty counsel available.
“We obviously believe this helps the court as well.”
B.C. Ministry of Attorney General public relations officer David
Townsend said the decision to make the cuts was an internal one,
made by the Legal Services Society.
He noted that the LSS does receive government funding from the
ministry, but that funding has not been cut.
The NDP’s critic for the attorney general ministry, MLA Leonard Krog,
said it is typical for the government to pretend they have no
responsibility for anything they fund.
He pointed out that the bulk of the budget for the LSS is provided
by the ministry of the attorney general.
“The money that comes from the Law Foundation and the Notary
Foundation is drying up, but the mandate to deliver legal aid is
still the government’s responsibility,” he said.
Krog added that the current Liberal government had already cut the
legal aid budget by more than 40 per cent after being elected.
He also doubted whether replacement services instituted by the LSS
would be able to fill the gap.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a cost-effective service, and the
lawyers going on strike in Kamloops tells you what the legal
community thinks of it.”
A group of Kamloops lawyers withdrew all family and criminal court
duty counsel work beginning Jan. 11 in protest of the cuts.
Krog noted the seven per cent legal services tax brings in more than
enough money to fund Legal Aid, but he said portions of the tax are
diverted into general government revenue.
“The fact is that we’ve starved the legal aid system around the
While access points to legal assistance are being reduced, the
demand for those services continues to increase.
Elizabeth Fry Society agency coordinator Aimee Thompson said the
closures will affect the amount of legal assistance available to the
The Elizabeth Fry Society is a non-profit organization that works
primarily with women involved in the justice system.
The organization also operates a sexual assault counselling centre
and works with women who become involved in all forms of violent
Thompson said Elizabeth Fry staff have found that when women are at
the contemplation stage of leaving a violent domestic situation,
they want to find out what their rights are or ask for more
information about family law.
She said a number of the women are referred to Legal Aid or to the
Lawline telephone service.
Thompson noted that staff also use the Community Advocate line to
get more specific legal information or to get advice from a lawyer.
“There are alternatives, but they’re not going to be funded and have
the same kind of mandate that Legal Aid had,” she said.
Thompson noted that the EFS has contacted several other legal
organizations in an attempt to find alternate sources, but pointed
out that access to Legal Aid and the Lawline telephone service has
helped streamline a legal process that people often find confusing
She said the LSS previously saw resources cut in 2002 and thought
services would be rebuilt from there, rather than suffering further
rounds of cuts.
“My sense is that we are going through a phase of much more
deprivation and punishment.”
She noted there is a reliance on the criminal justice system to
provide counselling and assistance after people have gone through
“I think we should all be concerned that our most vulnerable
citizens are being scooped up by the criminal justice system and
criminalized before they have access to social and justice
Thompson said the effects of the work of local agents being hired as
replacements will depend on the individuals hired.
She noted that a Legal Aid outreach worker currently attends a local
committee to create change for women experiencing violence.
Thompson pointed out one of the valuable pieces of work performed by
LSS employees is delivering direct information to citizens and being
part of community efforts.
She said the local agent may see the community contact as valuable
and provide time for their staff to do that work, or may decide it
is not something mandated within their contract with LSS.
Thompson’s hope is that the LSS will select someone who would like
to maintain current services.
“We kind of have to have faith that the Legal Services Society will
continue to meet its mandate.”
Still, Thompson added that the LSS would be doing so with decreasing
resources and an increased demand on its services.
For advocates working for the Elizabeth Fry Society, the Legal Aid
office and telephone service closures will mean more time needed to
acquire basic legal information.
“We do provide that information, but we can’t do it all.”
Thompson has been with Elizabeth Fry for eight years and has seen
the increasing demand on legal services.
She noted that new client request intakes have more than doubled in
the past year.
Thompson added that the numbers of women being charged in domestic
violence situations have also increased, as have the general numbers
She pointed out that with less access to legal aid, more people are
pleading guilty than would have if they had professional assistance.
The ramifications of the guilty plea in a domestic violence
situation continue beyond the initial sentence.
Thompson pointed out that any record of domestic violence will
affect that individual’s future, including the custody of their
children if they have any and the degree of their further
involvement in the family law system.
“You end up having a person in a very stressful situation, getting
snared in these processes.”
Thompson noted that some of these situations could be resolved by
not charging people in the first place but getting them the help
they need and making their rights known to them early on.
“I think Legal Aid has tried to do that, along with others.”
She pointed out the cuts ultimately increase the burden on remaining
providers, a burden that cannot help but increase when staff that
deliver a service are removed.
Thompson noted the provision of legal aid is necessary.
“These are people’s rights, these are Charter rights that people
have access to. We want people to have participatory access to the
justice system if they need it.”
Kelowna Women’s Resource Centre coordinator Micki Smith also
expressed concern about the closures.
Smith noted many of the services the regional office provided will
no longer necessarily be available.
She pointed out the streamlining of the application process may shut
out applicants who would only be eligible for legal assistance on
closer examination of their situations.
“There are a number of situations where on the surface it might
appear that someone might not be eligible for legal aid.”
Smith added that if more time is required to determine someone’s
eligibility, she was concerned about those people having access to
She pointed out that a person could be on a criminal charge but may
not necessarily be eligible for legal assistance if it does not
appear they would receive a jail sentence.
Smith gave the example of a woman with a severe mental impairment
who was told she would not be covered by legal assistance because
she would not receive jail time.
Smith noted the woman would still garner a criminal record. She
added that the woman was fortunate enough that a staff lawyer from
LSS was available during the time when she showed up to court, but
gaining that assistance was a matter of luck and good timing.
“It’s concerning that people are not going to have that.”
Smith noted that community advocates do not have the legal expertise
to fill in the gaps.
She pointed out that local advocates are inundated with cases,
despite their lack of formal legal training.
“It’s going to be really challenging. As advocates in the community,
we need to have access to legal help as well.”
Smith noted that legal services have been denigrated since the
mid-1990s, making it harder for people to ensure their rights are
She said people should have access to good legal counsel but she
anticipates that more people will have to represent themselves in
“I anticipate judges are not going to be happy. The court systems
are already backed up, I can’t imagine how much more it’s going to
be backed up if people have to represent themselves.”
Enderby RCMP say their efforts to help an injured teen at a local
home were hampered by house guests and the teen himself.
Three members attended a home on Lawes Road shortly before 1 a.m.
March 17 following reports of a 15-year-old Vernon youth who injured
himself when his arm went through a window.
B.C. Ambulance Service was called to attend and treat the injured
Police on the scene said they were hampered in assisting the youth
by other young people in the residence that had been drinking and
were quite obstructive in their demeanor.
Enderby RCMP said their efforts were directed at restraining and
having the injured teen removed for care.
A constable took the boy to Shuswap Lake General Hospital, and the
boy’s parents were advised of the situation.
Once at the hospital’s emergency department, police say Salmon Arm
RCMP colleagues had to assist Enderby members, ambulance and
hospital staff after the youth became violent, and was causing an
extreme disturbance while being treated.
The youth had to be sedated, according to RCMP, and restrained for
medical treatment. Once he was attended to, the hospital released
the boy back into the custody of Enderby RCMP, who arrested him for
this behavior and transported him to a cell at Vernon detachment.
He was later released from custody with no
charges being laid.
A Vernon Mountie still faces an internal code of
conduct review after pleading guilty in provincial court Thursday to
refusing to provide a breath sample.
Const. Jody Turpin was fined $1,000 and had
his driver’s licence suspended for one year as a result
of an incident in December 2009.
Because he pled guilty to refusing to provide a breath sample, a
stay of proceedings was issued by Crown counsel on an impaired
Sgt. Rob Vermeulen, senior media relations officer for the RCMP’s
B.C. division, said senior management will make the decision on
Turpin’s future following the internal code of conduct review.
“They can go by formal or informal discipline,” said Vermeulen. “If
they decide on formal discipline, that means there would be a
hearing before an adjudication board. Consequences at their disposal
could be a written reprimand, loss of pay, loss of rank, right up to
Turpin is still posted to administrative duties at the Vernon
detachment, and Vermeulen said that will continue for some time.
“At some point a decision will be made on returning to operational
duties, but keep in mind he has a licence suspension for one year,”
he said. “They might look at foot or bike patrol, but that’s a
decision that would be made by senior detachment management.”
Turpin was arrested Dec. 19 after Vernon RCMP found him behind the
wheel of his own personal vehicle in the downtown core at 2:30 a.m.
The RCMP suspected he was about to drive while impaired.
Hugh Brody will give a screening of his latest documentary, The
Meaning Of Life, at the UBCO campus on Feb. 24.
Hugh Brody will visit the UBC Okanagan campus on Feb. 24 for a
public screening of his new film The Meaning of Life, an 80-minute
documentary that explores a community-based model for rehabilitating
A Tier One Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies at the
University of the Fraser Valley and professor of anthropology, Brody
has been invited to UBC Okanagan by the Community, Culture and
Global Studies department. He will be on hand to introduce the film
as well as answer questions immediately following the screening.
The Meaning of Life is the result of a two-year collaborative
project between Brody, the Chehalis Nation of British Columbia and
Correctional Service Canada.
Filmed at Kwikw xwelhp (Elbow Lake Correction Facility), the
documentary examines a different way to look at concepts underlying
punishment and rehabilitation and the idea that the current prison
system can be significantly changed by including community in the
Other films by Brody include Time Immemorial (1991) about Nass
Valley Nisga’a land issues; Hunters and Bombers (1990) which
examines the impact of low-flying bomber training on Innu hunting;
and, Washing of Tears (1994) about the cultural revival of the
Mowachaht of B.C. whaling community. Among his many publications are
the Living Arctic: Hunters and trappers of the Canadian North
(1987); Maps and Dreams (1988), and The Other Side of Eden: hunters,
farmers and the shaping of the world (2000).
There is no charge for this
screening and everyone is welcome to attend.
The film will be shown at 7 p.m. on Feb. 24, in the UBC Okanagan
Arts building ART376.
To find out more contact Naomi McPherson, associate professor of
anthropology, at 250-807-9325.
A Vernon RCMP officer is facing impaired driving related charges
after being arrested by Vernon RCMP.
On December 19, at approximately 2:30 a.m., Vernon RCMP members
located a male in a parked vehicle who they suspected was about to
drive while impaired.
They determined that the driver was an off-duty RCMP member
currently posted in Vernon. He was behind the wheel of his personal
vehicle at the time of the incident.
All circumstances surrounding the incident will be forwarded to
Crown Counsel for charge assessment.
The member will make his first court appearance on February 4, 2010
The member has been reassigned to administrative duties while the
criminal investigation is being conducted. A parallel internal Code
of Conduct investigation is also been launched.
Once sufficient information has been received, it will be provided
to the appropriate decision maker for a decision on duty status.
"As police officers, all too often we have seen firsthand the tragic
consequences of impaired driving. This
member is the third RCMP officer in BC to be arrested for impaired
driving in 2009, and on behalf of senior management I am
deeply disappointed to hear of this incident. This member will now
face not only the criminal justice system, but also an internal RCMP
Code of Conduct investigation where possible sanctions range from
loss of pay to dismissal from the force," says A/Commr. Al
Macintyre, Criminal Operations Officer for the RCMP in BC
Dave Loeppkey says the government has to buck-up to victims of
The Osoyoos man was shot by gangster Doug Vanalstine four years ago.
The self-professed UN gang boss put a bullet in Loeppkey's left foot
over a dispute over loud music in Osoyoos.
The Crown dropped the criminal charges against Vanalstine so
Loeppkey sued him in civil court.
Vanalstine was ordered to pay Loeppkey more than $300,000 for lost
income and suffering, but the Osoyoos man says he won't see a cent
despite the fact the gangster is behind bars.
Vanalstine was arrested in Kelowna last week on drug conspiracy
charges as part of a province-wide crackdown on organized crime.
Loeppkey says that if the authorities are successful in seizing some
of Vanalstine's assets, some of that money should go to him.
"Anything that the government seizes (under proceeds of crime) goes
to general revenue. I have no power to make a claim against that
money. I would like to see the system changed so when money is
confiscated that it goes to the victim. It's not just me. There are
thousands of victims out there."
Aside from living with a permanent injury as a result of the
shooting, Loeppkey also had to endure the stigma attached to being
shot by a gangster.
"After it happened, even the nurses were afraid to come to my house
because I was shot by a gangster. That was the kind of reaction I
got every day."
Loeppkey says people have to stand up and speak out against
organized crime and that's why he's decided to break his silence.
"I'm more frustrated than intimidated. I was told by the police on
the day of the shooting not to talk to the media. For four and a
half years I have sat here keeping my mouth shut."
Vanalstine is also facing drug charges in the U.S.
The District of West Kelowna has signed a new policing agreement
that will see the municipality take control of its own RCMP force.
Before year’s end, 21 officers will be serving West Kelowna, an
increase of two officers over present levels.
However, policing service in the new municipality, at one officer
per 1,380 people, will still be a far cry from RCMP levels in the
Okanagan’s other major municipalities—Vernon, Kelowna and
Penticton—where there is an average of one officer for every 770
West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said however, one can’t accurately
policing needs in his municpality with those in the three larger
“We don’t have an urban core in the way there’s a downtown Penticton
with some fairly obvious social problems from time to time and
similarly Kelowna, a much larger community,” said Findlater.
“We have kind of a different complexion and that also has an effect
on what’s going on here.”
Central Okanagan police commander, Supt. Bill McKinnon said 21
officers for West Kelowna is a “good starting point,” for the
municipality to build on.
But it is a “bare bones force,” said the area’s top cop. “It’s like
ordering a car with no options (where) you get a set of wheels but
not a radio or other options you want or need,” said
Options for the municipality could include hiring a school liaison
officer, more traffic police and plain clothes offciers, explained
McKinnon. Findlater said by signing the agreement now, rather than
waiting to the end of the transition period in 2013, West Kelowna
will have the freedom to make those kinds of policing decisions
locally in concert with the RCMP. “Council has the ability to set
service levels, adjust policing levels and possibly realize cost
savings,” explained Findlater.
Meanwhile, the policing agreement with the Ministry of Public Safety
and Solicitor General also specifies the province’s responsibilities
for policing the remainder of the Westside, including Peachland,
Westbank First Nation and the rural area from Brent Road in the
south to Fintry in the north, said McKinnon.
Nineteen officers will serve those areas. Service levels were based
on the number of calls in each area, said McKinnon.
“Fifty-two per cent of the work was in the municipality (and) 48 per
cent was outside West Kelowna boundaries,” the superintendent
The new agreement also establishes what West Kelowna will pay for
its police force in the future.
Twenty-one officers would have cost West Kelowna taxpayers about
$3.5 million per year between now and December 2012. The
municipality will also be responsible for employing five to six
civilian support staff.
The provincial government has agreed to give the municipality an
annual grant of $2.35 million to offset policing costs. (The 2009
grant will be $1.5 million as it is for only part of the fiscal
The net result for West Kelowna residents will be a slight decrease
in policing costs, with households expected to pay $85.69 on average
for RCMP costs each year.
The district will also receive a $1.17 million as a one-time
restructure assistance grant.
By 2013, the municipality will be responsible for 90 per cent of all
policing costs and West Kelowna plans to build up reserves between
now and then to ease the impact on the budget.
A newly created dedicated RCMP unit to battle gangs and organized
crime will be an asset to law enforcement in the Okanagan.
So believes Insp. Steve McVarnock, Vernon’s top cop, responding to
an announcement by Premier Gordon Campbell and Solicitor General
John van Dongen that 16 police officers will be posted in Kelowna to
fight gangs and organized crime.
“I see it as a benefit. Gang activities know no one postal code,”
“We’ll be able to leverage our resources with their expertise.”
The new unit will be based in Kelowna, part of 168 additional police
officers and 10 prosecutors dedicated by the province to strengthen
B.C.’s fight against gang and gun violence.
“They’ll be doing this year-round, and I see it as a win-win for the
entire Okanagan,” said McVarnock.
The hiring of the 16 new officers in the Okanagan Valley is part of
a seven-point plan outlined by Campbell and van Dongen to address
organized crime across the province.
“Our goals are clear and urgent: No more gangs, no more gunplay and
no more innocent victims anywhere in B.C.,” said van Dongen.
“By giving police and the justice system a great, focused presence
right here, we will eliminate the gang network’s foothold in the
Of the 168 new police officers to be hired over the next two years
to focus on gang violence and crime, 131 will be put in place
immediately, with satellite gang units set up in Kelowna and Prince
Additional funding for the move will be split between Victoria and
The province plans to invest $185 million to construct 304
additional jail cells that will hold more than 600 offenders.
Victoria also wants to make it harder for those accused of gun
offences to get bail, and it also wants to eliminate the
“two-for-one” credit for time served while awaiting trial.
An escalating rewards program will be put in place for anonymous
tips and for information leading to the arrest and conviction of
A gang hotline will be set up to receive those public tips.
– With files from the Kelowna Capital News
More Police, Prosecutors, Tougher Laws to Tackle Gangs from Provincial Government emailed news release
February 13, 2009
Vancouver – The Province will
dedicate an additional 168 police officers and 10 prosecutors as
part of a comprehensive initiative to strengthen B.C.’s fight
against gang and gun violence, Premier Gordon Campbell announced
“Recent gang violence has been both shocking and appalling, and
British Columbians have had enough,” said Premier Campbell. “We’re
adding more police officers to investigate, arrest and get violent
criminals off the street, and we’re dedicating more prosecutors to
put criminals behind bars.”
Premier Campbell announced a comprehensive, seven-point plan to
support ongoing efforts to tackle gang crime that includes:
1. More police officers
2. More prosecutors
3. More jails and secure courts
4. Tougher laws
5. Crackdown on illegal guns
6. Outlaw armoured vehicles and body armour
7. New gang hotline and rewards program
In addition to the dramatic increase in the number of police
officers and Crown prosecutors dedicated to curbing gang activity,
the Province is moving quickly to strengthen laws, increase
penalties, and take away the proceeds of crime.
“I’m going to Ottawa with the solicitor general to lobby for the
changes we need to tackle gangs in British Columbia,” said Attorney
General Wally Oppal. “If you use a gun while committing a crime, you
shouldn’t get bail. We want an end to 2-for-1 credit for time
served. And we need a modern wiretap regulation that recognizes new
technologies like cell phones and other devices.”
“Putting these additional police resources onto the street and
backing them up with additional resources in the courtroom means we
can dramatically increase our efforts to get these gangs off our
streets,” said Minister for Public Safety and Solicitor General John
van Dongen. “In addition to the new police, we’re also putting
together a 10-member team focused solely on seizing illegal guns.”
The comprehensive public safety package will see $185 million
invested in new jail cells, new regulations around the sale of body
armour, revisions to the Motor Vehicle Act to outlaw modified
armoured vehicles, and aggressive utilization of the Civil
Forfeiture Act to seize and sell vehicles and property obtained
through criminal means.
To encourage better participation in the arrest and prosecution of
gangsters, an enhanced escalating rewards program will be developed
to solicit tips and information that lead to the arrest and
conviction of criminals. An additional $1 million will be allocated
to the $3 million invested in youth education programs designed to
help kids stay out of gangs.
Justice limited By Cheryl Wierda - Kelowna Capital News -
Published: January 29, 2009
justice is a ‘basic public right,” but cost, court
procedures and delays can be barriers to members of the community
accessing justice, says the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of
Canada during her visit to Kelowna on Tuesday evening.
“Justice is a basic commodity of importance to all society,” said
Beverley McLachlin. “Everybody should have access when they really
need it.. I am convinced, unfortunately, that this right isn’t
always fully met.”
However, steps are being taken to improve upon Canada’s system, she
said, which is the “envy” of many in the world.
In her presentation as part of UBC Okanagan’s distinguished speaker
series, McLachlin noted that the fees associated to getting a
lawyer, as well as complex court procedures, can be cost-prohibitive
The number of unrepresented litigants, she said, could be a symptom
of those challenges of the system, and contribute to another
challenge facing the system—delays. Cases involving litigants
without a lawyer often take longer as they struggle to present their
case in a complex system that they don’t often understand—and may
need help figuring out.
“The solution will require a multi-pronged attack,” she said, noting
the legal community, judiciary, parliament and the community must
work together. One concept being considered as reforms are pondered
for the judicial system is “proportionality”—meaning that the cost
and time associated with a case is comparable to what’s at stake.
There are individuals looking at how to simplify the procedure for
less complicated cases, and there is also work toward out of court
arbitration which could quickly and cheaply resolve disputes.Many
law firms are taking on more pro bono work, helping individuals
maneuver through the complexities of the court system, and there is
also discussion surrounding “unbundling” service so that individuals
that are able to advance their case to a certain point can seek
legal help for just part of the process, she added.
Community courts could be
coming to Kelowna—at least if the RCMP has its way.
On Monday Supt. Bill McKinnon told council he believes there needs
to be better solutions to dealing with crime and that two members of
his staff would be heading to Vancouver to learn about their
community courts system.
“Simply put, what we’re dealing with right now is not working. It’s
not the solution,” said McKinnon.
While the top cop did not go into specifics over what he thinks the
problem with the court system is, he said he feels there were
“better solutions” out there.
Mayor Sharon Shepherd told him council has asked to be considered if
there is an extension of the community courts program outside the
Lower Mainland, although she is of the understanding it may not even
continue in that jurisdiction.
The downtown community court system in Vancouver opened in summer
2008 and is the first of its kind in Canada. It draws members of
social service agencies, the health care system, police and
community members at large together to work on a problem-solving
style system for dealing with crime.
We are exposed to life’s minor injustices on a regular basis—an
impatient shopper cutting in line, a schoolyard bully stealing a
treat, a cheater.
Even the minor ones are hard to take. I want to jump in, send the
shopper to the back of the line, return the treat, disqualify the
Of course, I am not alone. I like to think that we all have that
sense of fairness.
How often, though, do we actually get to stop injustice in its
Not long ago, I was consulted by a fellow who had been injured in a
car crash through no fault of his own.
It was just over two years after the crash and the pain from those
injuries had become chronic.
He was looking for a lawyer to help him achieve fair compensation
for his injuries.
How I wished he had come to me just a couple weeks earlier.
Have you ever heard of a limitation period? It is a time
If a lawsuit is not started within the time limit, the right to fair
One day, you have a claim and the next day, the claim is gone.
The fellow who consulted me had been dealing directly with the
I don’t know whether the adjuster handling his claim mentioned the
limitation period but I do know, with certainty, that he wasn’t
sufficiently warned because he didn’t come to me until after the
limitation period had expired.
One day he had a case and the next day he didn’t.
I wonder how many of the hundreds of millions of dollars of
insurance company profits are made up of cases like that one. I
wonder if they uncorked champagne.
Is your skin crawling? Hang on. I have a better story.
It was a Friday afternoon. I had just returned to the office from a
type of pre-trial hearing.
A lady called me over as I was heading into my office. She asked me
if I did any personal injury work. (No, she doesn’t read this
She told me about her sister who had been in a crash a couple of
She had been dealing directly with the insurance company but had
finally decided to hire a lawyer.
I don’t know exactly what the insurance adjuster told her but I do
know what she had come to understand from those discussions.
She understood that if she didn’t settle her claim within
two years, she would have to hire a lawyer.
Her sister was helping her find a lawyer.
She happened to see me coming into my office and happened to
Get this: It was two years to the day after the crash.
In my mind’s eye, I could already see the bottles of champagne lined
up, on ice at the insurance company offices.
In 2 ½ hours, the court registry where the lawsuit had to be filed
In 150 minutes, the claim would be gone.
There’s something about a looming deadline that focuses you.
There’s also something about 150 minutes standing between justice
and injustice that stokes the fire under your boiler.
Fortunately, we live in a technological world. I was able to contact
the sister on her cell phone.
Once I explained the urgency of the situation, she immediately left
work went home and gave me the necessary information from the police
I left an urgent message for the adjuster but, of course, I couldn’t
rely on a timely response from him.
I prepared the writ on my computer, printed, signed, scanned and
filed it electronically.
It was a sweet thing seeing that electronically affixed court
registry date stamp on the document.
Injustice averted—by a hair.
I’m not a champagne kind of guy. I cracked a beer or two.
There’s a lesson in this. You cannot rely on an insurance
company to advise you about your rights. That’s not its role.
Its allegiance is to the driver who caused the crash and to its
bottom line, not to you.
Another lesson? Sometimes the stars really do line up.
This column is intended to provide general information about injury
claims. It is not a substitute for retaining a lawyer to provide
legal advice specifically pertaining to your case.
Paul Hergott is a lawyer with Hergott Law on the Westside. If there
are particular issues you would like discussed in this column,
please e-mail Paul directly at:
Note from OkanaganLakeBC ... Canadian
Tire shows a 30 day to 6 month time limitation on a credit slip we
received from a return we made. We tried using the credit
after the 6 month time limit at the Vernon store was up, but were
denied the credit at the counter. Later when we got home and
called Canadian Tire we were told that Canadian Tire stores are
independently owned, and that the stores owners make the time limit
rules, and that we should call the stores owner. We had a $145
credit which we didn't want to loose. In the end the Vernon
Canadian Tire store owner agreed to extend the credit time period
limit, and let us use the $145.00 credit. Whew!!
When the National Parole Board (NPB) and Correctional Services of
Canada (CSC) investigate themselves, their finding that no one was
to blame for the events leading to the murder of William Abramenko
comes as no surprise.
This is akin to stating “the operation was a success but the patient
(The RCMP, the third party in this tragedy, has also become very
adept at whitewashing alleged police wrong-doing or incompetence
whenever they are allowed to investigate themselves.)
Let me make sure I have this straight:
A convicted murderer, released into the community in spite of the
NPB stating that he was “a high risk to violently re-offend," goes
missing from a halfway house where he was required, by the terms of
his release, to report and remain each and every night.
Over the next six or seven weeks, he is seen several times at large
in the community…..a community small enough that the police know or
are aware of most of the criminal element.
A couple of days after the individual has murdered one, and possibly
two people, the RCMP locate and arrest him.
The RCMP, when asked why they had not issued a public alert as soon
as this “high risk to violently re-offend” convicted murderer went
missing, initially stated they were prevented from doing so by
Later, in acknowledging that privacy laws did not, in fact, prevent
an immediate public alert, the RCMP are reported to have stated that
there was nothing to indicate at the time that the individual posed
that degree of threat to the public.....suggesting that Howard
House, or CSC, or NPB had failed to clearly advise the RCMP of the
potential danger this character was thought to represent.
Any investigation into this tragedy must answer the following
1. How soon were the RCMP contacted after the convicted murderer,
deemed to be “a high risk to violently re-offend," failed to show
up at Howard House ? If not immediately, why not?
2. Which organization initially contacted the RCMP? Howard House?
Correctional Services? The National Parole Board?
3. What was the exact information initially provided to the RCMP?
Was the RCMP clearly advised, from the outset, of the danger this
convicted murderer was deemed by the NPB to represent? If not, why
4. If, from the outset, the RCMP were clearly aware of the danger
this individual represented: what, specifically, did they do over
the next 6 – 7 week period to apprehend him?
If they pulled out all stops to find him, (and, given the potential
danger as stated by the NPB, "pulling out all stops" is exactly what
the situation called for), how do they explain their inability to
locate and apprehend this character before he murdered again? Why
did they fail to issue a public alert?
The three-year NPB/CSC investigation notwithstanding, someone
screwed up very badly here.
The families of the victims, at the very least, have a right to know
who and why.....and it shouldn't take years for the answers.
Justice? May 30, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters
In response to the letter to the editor about a “Life Changing Day”
from Jodi Snow, I have known Jodi for about 23 years. I knew her as
a young girl and saw her grow up. Jodi was always happy and mild
mannered and would never hurt anybody. It breaks my heart to hear of
people taking advantage of her, and she doesn’t even remember.
On that fateful day, May 23, 2006, one of my best friends lost Jodi,
the daughter she knew and loved. And while we are grateful that we
still have Jodi, she now needs much more care, worry and concern
than before. The accident took her life away in so many ways.
When you look at the sentence that woman got, compared to what Jodi
has, it doesn’t seem fair. The accident took everything from Jodi
including her son, and her independence. The woman only got 90 days
to be served on weekends. The woman who hit Jodi has five days of
the week to carry on her life as before and in 10 months she is
done. On the other hand, Jodi and Jodi’s family have a lifetime
sentence, being served 24/7. In my opinion, the judgement did not
have much regard for Jodi’s life because the sentence given to that
woman was like a slap on the face to Jodi. Another question is, why
were the charges of impaired driving and causing bodily harm stayed?
If the justice system can’t make these hard decisions, that they are
being paid large amounts of money to make, then what is the use of
They really need to look at themselves and ask why are they there?
There needs to be more review of the legal system about the
sentencing that people are getting because often the victim is
re-victimized by the sentence given to the offender. A lot of
sentencing seems to make no rhyme or reason, and sometimes, as in
this case, there is no justice in the sentencing.
As someone said, “We don’t have a justice system. We only have a
Never doubt the ability of a small group of concerned
citizens to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.
If you have comments, ideas, solutions, concerns or complaints regarding the law
and legal system you can try contacting your B.C., or Canada government, but
don't expect them to listen. You may as well be talking to the wall.
Other than that you may make a comment by filling out the form below and/or comment directly to the
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