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LEGAL SYSTEM IN CANADA

JUSTICE OR INJUSTICE SYSTEM?

Blue Divider Line

Make a comment using the form at the bottom of this page regarding the law and legal system in Canada.  Your comments will be posted to this website here.

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.

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"This means that only some people in our society can actually exercise the legal rights that should apply to everyone.”

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An Okanagan Legal Blog
http://www.achieving-justice.com/

http://www.bouckslawblog.com/

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Hergott: Standards of proof not the same
By Paul Hergott - Kelowna Capital News - October 10, 2013

“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 proof.”

An innocent victim is not required to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.

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 compensation.

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 significant one.

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 claimant.

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 it.

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 your injuries.

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 working life?

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 this notion.

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.

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.pdf icon April 11, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Governance and Services Committee Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon  Item 5.2 Crime Stoppers Program

Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers Statistics 2012 Since Inception 1987
Tips received 1,090 19,820
Tip follow ups 1,435 4,344
Arrests made 83 2,400
Fugitives arrested 52 713
Cases cleared 84 3,325
Charges laid 55 450
Rewards approved 38 713
Rewards collected(claimed) 10 337
Reward Amounts approved $10,655 $264,303
Weapons seized 4 25
Property recovered $5,450 $3,528,187
Drugs seized $9,296,030 $77,313,836

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio April 11, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting - .mp3 (24.6 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 11, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.2 Crime Stoppers Program - .wma (21.8 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 11, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.2 Crime Stoppers Program motion - .wma (516 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 11, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Director Edgson talking about bullying - .wma (2.03 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 11, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Director Edgson talking about RDCO taking action about bullying - .wma (1.06 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 11, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Director Given saying that RDCO should liason with the School Board about bullying - .wma (886 KB)

.pdf icon April 11, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Governance and Services Committee Meeting Minutes

5.2 Gerry Guiltenane, Coordinator - re: Crime Stoppers Program Update Gerry Guiltenane addressed the committee, providing an update on Crime Stoppers
• Crime Stoppers Board consists of 13 board members.
• 2013 wrapped up of 25 years of operation in the Central Okanagan.
• 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 program.
• Over 300 tips so far this year. 14 wanted persons arrested to date this year.

Discussion:
-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
program.
-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 provincially.
-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.

GIVEN/GRAY
THAT the Crime Stoppers Program presentation be received for information;
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.

CARRIED

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio April 11, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting - .mp3 (24.6 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 11, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.2 Crime Stoppers Program - .wma (21.8 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 11, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Item 5.2 Crime Stoppers Program motion - .wma (516 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 11, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Director Edgson talking about bullying - .wma (2.03 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 11, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Director Edgson talking about RDCO taking action about bullying - .wma (1.06 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 11, 2013 audio of RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Director Given saying that RDCO should liason with the School Board about bullying - .wma (886 KB)

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.pdf icon February 14, 2013 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

This was a Director Item so was not mentioned in the Highlights

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 14, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (11.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Findlater discussing not being able to get a mortgage on a Grow Op and Grow Ops moving to Electoral areas due to Municipalities having legislation and Regional Districts not having legislation so are designing a resolution for that - .wma (1.85 MB)

.pdf icon February 14, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon There are no Agenda documents for this discussion below as it was a Director Item and not on the Agenda

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 14, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (11.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Findlater discussing not being able to get a mortgage on a Grow Op and Grow Ops moving to Electoral areas due to Municipalities having legislation and Regional Districts not having legislation so are designing a resolution for that - .wma (1.85 MB)

.pdf icon February 14, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

7. DIRECTOR ITEMS

c) District of West Kelowna Resolutions to SILGA

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).

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 14, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (11.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Findlater discussing not being able to get a mortgage on a Grow Op and Grow Ops moving to Electoral areas due to Municipalities having legislation and Regional Districts not having legislation so are designing a resolution for that - .wma (1.85 MB)

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.pdf icon May 28, 2012 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

.pdf icon May 28, 2012 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon This was a Director Item so there is nothing mentioned in the Highlights of the Meeting, nor in the Agenda

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio May 28, 2012 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (49 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files May 28, 2012 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Peachland wanting action against bush parties - .wma (7.69 MB)

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Top cop balks at bud battle
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 75813 - May 29, 2012

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 pot.

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' movement.

"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 there."

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.

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Mulgrew: B.C.'s hefty civil court fees struck down as unconstitutional
By Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun - May 22, 2012

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 unconstitutional.

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 daughter.

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 unconstitutional.

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 courtroom.”

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 purposes.”

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 proceedings.

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 millennium.

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 mandate …”

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 Territories.

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 abhorrent.

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 were unconstitutional.

That decision was never appealed.

imulgrew "at" vancouversun.com

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Blue Divider Line

A round table for Mayors
Castanet.net - by Grant Scott - Story: 74400 - Apr 27, 2012

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 permitting.

The board is made up of the four municipal mayors and chief administrative officers.

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 repairs.

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.

Blue Divider Line

Dial-a-dope and top cop's daughter
by Wayne Moore - Story: 71802 - Mar 1, 2012

"This event goes to show that nobody is immune from drugs and/or criminal activity and he, like anybody else, is a victim as a result of this."

Photo: Contributed - Facebook

Lisa McKinnon

Those words from RCMP Inspector, Rick Flewelling, who confirmed Thursday the daughter of RCMP Superintendent, Bill McKinnon has been arrested on drug charges.

Flewelling says Lisa McKinnon, 22, who now resides in Richmond, was arrested Tuesday along with a 20-year-old Kelowna man Tuesday in Kelowna.

He was not specific as to where the arrest took place.

"The charges stemmed from an investigation where members of the Kelowna RCMP were targeting those involved in a dial-a-dope operation this month," says Flewelling.

"They appeared before a JJP on February 29 (Wednesday) and were released on conditions.

McKinnon is scheduled to appear again in court March 29.

According to court documents, McKinnon faces three charges of trafficking and possession of heroin and cocaine.

Flewelling says once investigators realized who they were dealing with steps were taken to isolate Supt. McKinnon from the investigation.

"Supt. McKinnon was not aware of what was going on and that the investigation was allowed to go on keeping in mind the integrity of the investigation," says Flewelling.

He says this should not be seen as a black mark on the Kelowna Detachment but underscores the fact drugs and crime can affect anyone.

"I think it speaks to the point that criminality and drugs is something we all have to face. Any one if us are not immune from that type of thing," says Flewelling.

"We are all susceptible to drugs and what it can do. He and his wife are not different. They're victims, they're parents. I can't stress that enough. They are at home dealing with it."

 




Interview with Kelowna RCMP Inspector, Rick Flewelling, following the arrest of Superintendent Bill McKinnon's daughter. (Video-Kelly Hayes)

Blue Divider Line

BC has 6 months to make changes to drunk driving laws

The BC Supreme Court is giving the province until June 30, 2012 to make changes to drunk driving laws after a judge found them unconstitutional.

Source:  News1130 breaking news email alert

Blue Divider Line

B.C. drivers who failed unconstitutional drunk driving tests should have records removed, costs reimbursed, lawyers argue
By Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun December 19, 2011

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jon Sigurdson has declared part of the province's tough new impaired driving law as unconstitutional for turning police into a roadside judge, jury and executioner.

VANCOUVER - B.C. drivers who failed drunk driving tests now deemed unconstitutional should have their records removed and costs reimbursed, lawyers argued today in B.C. Supreme Court.

That potentially involves several thousand people, said Howard Mickelson, who represents several people penalized under the drunk-driving laws.

The drivers should also not have to take driving courses or use interlock devices on their ignitions, argued Mickelson.

Justice Don Sigurdson is hearing arguments today on a solution after he struck down part of a B.C. Law earlier this month as unconstitutional.

More to come.

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Blue Divider Line

BC Civil Liberties Association says free speech protected by recent court ruling
VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - 10/19/2011

The BC Civil Liberties Association is heralding a decision from Canada's top court, which they say protects free speech on the internet.

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled hyperlinking is not the same as publishing, and therefore can never be defamatory.

The BCCLA intervened in the case.

Their lawyer, Roy Millen, says the ruling ensures access to information isn't compromised.

He says, "even if you say you think it's right, or even if you say you agree with it, then the hyperlinker is not going to be libel."

The case was brought forward by a former Green party campaign manager, who launched several libel actions against Google, Myspace and even Wikipedia.

Blue Divider Line

Mean, But Far From Lean
Oct 12 2011 - by Neil Boyd Associate Director, Criminology, Simon Fraser University.

The Tory crime bill being imposed on Canadians is anything but fiscally conservative.

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 adult Canadians.

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.

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Some experts claim that what this crime bill is missing is a commitment to crime-prevention programs. Read more here.

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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 these crimes.

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 .pdf icon RCMP study of marijuana cultivators reveals that less than 10 per cent of those apprehended are engaged in any kind of violent activity.)

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The Tories have unveiled their Gazillion-Dollar Pot-Growers Act, and, whoo boy, the critics are not pleased. Read more here.

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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.

Blue Divider Line

'Botched' policing let Pickton kill, inquiry told
Okanagan Similkameen - By Jeff Nagel - October 11, 2011

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 egregious."

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 unbelievable."

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 focus.

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 investigation.

- 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 dead.

- 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?" Vertlieb asked.

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 into 2012.

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.

Blue Divider Line

Judges Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. J-1)

Salaries
Supreme Court of Canada

9. The yearly salaries of the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada are as follows:

(a) the Chief Justice of Canada, $298,500; and

(b) the eight puisne judges, $276,400 each.

R.S., 1985, c. J-1, s. 9;
R.S., 1985, c. 50 (1st Supp.), s. 4, c. 39 (3rd Supp.), s. 1;
2001, c. 7, s. 1;
2006, c. 11, s. 1.
Previous Version

Federal Courts

10. The yearly salaries of the judges of the Federal Courts are as follows:

(a) the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal, $254,600;

(b) the other judges of the Federal Court of Appeal, $232,300 each;

(c) the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, $254,600; and

(d) the other judges of the Federal Court, $232,300 each.

R.S., 1985, c. J-1, s. 10;
R.S., 1985, c. 41 (1st Supp.), s. 1, c. 50 (1st Supp.), s. 4, c. 39 (3rd Supp.), s. 1;
2001, c. 7, s. 2;
2002, c. 8, s. 83;
2006, c. 11, s. 1.
Previous Version

Tax Court of Canada

11. The yearly salaries of the judges of the Tax Court of Canada are as follows:

(a) the Chief Justice, $254,600;

(b) the Associate Chief Justice, $254,600; and

(c) the other judges, $232,300 each.

R.S., 1985, c. J-1, s. 11;
R.S., 1985, c. 11 (1st Supp.), s. 2, c. 51 (4th Supp.), s. 13;
2001, c. 7, s. 3;
2002, c. 8, s. 84(E);
2006, c. 11, s. 1.
Previous Version

Blue Divider Line

B.C. judge calls court delays scandalous
The Canadian Press - Oct 3, 2011

Comments made as man acquitted

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 31 months 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.

Blue Divider Line

Pedophiles to serve less than growers
by The Canadian Press - Story: 65234 - Sep 27, 2011

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 their communities."

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 Comartin.

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 line.

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 bill."

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.

Blue Divider Line

Team Harper forces vote on crime bill
by The Canadian Press - Story: 65209 - Sep 27, 2011

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 perfunctory study.

"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 items:
• 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 compromise.

"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 provinces.

Blue Divider Line

And how much do 65 officers cost ... likely thousands!  Why don't they just legalize drugs?  People do drugs legal or not!

Kelowna, Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit
Incident: Investigative Partnership: Kelowna RCMP and CFSEU-Gang Task Force

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 prosecuted.

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.

Blue Divider Line

City ready to muffle bikes, boats
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 63904 - Aug 19, 2011

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 boats.

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 resources.

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 budgeted.

In his report to council, Fleming says motorcycle sound levels are based on a standard established by the Society of Automobile Engineers.

"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 hazardous."

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.

Blue Divider Line

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 Foundation.

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.

Yours,
Russel Ogden


http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Supreme+Court+throws+lawsuit+launched+right+group/5269257/story.html

http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110817/bc_assisted_suicide_farewell_lawsuit_110817/20110817/?hub=BritishColumbiaHome

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/08/17/bc-assisted-suicide.html

Farewell Foundation
322 – 720 6th Avenue
New Westminster, BC
V3L 3C5 Canada
(604) 521-1110
www.farewellfoundation.ca

info"at" farewellfoundation.ca

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Also see the Farewell Foundations blog here

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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.

Blue Divider Line

Learner / Novice Driver Impairment Legislation Change?

Good afternoon okanaganlakebc.ca!

Surprise...surprise....surprise........ The Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles has changed their website!! Take a look:

Impaired Driving - The Various Prohibitions and Suspensions - Driver Behaviour and Road Safety - Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles - British Columbia

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):

(3) If

(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) heading:

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.

Just an update!!

Harry

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Read what Harry sent us earlier about drinking and driving and the novice driver

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B.C. Automatic Roadside Prohibition Class Action

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.

Blue Divider Line

Province warned sheriff cuts could hinder courts
Kelowna Capital News - By Jeff Nagel - July 04, 2011

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 rover system.

"The safety of all court participants is of paramount concern," he said.

"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 deputy sheriffs.

"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 paramount objective."

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.

Blue Divider Line

West Kelowna woman joins right to die lawsuit
Kelowna Capital News - By Alistair Waters - June 30, 2011

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 law.

“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 in mind.

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 terms.

Blue Divider Line

If your a novice driver, you should read this

Good Day or Evening,

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 letter.

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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 novice driver?

2) The 12 hour suspension carries the description of the novice driver, exactly!

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”

And

“Based on the evidence before me, I am satisfied that you did not request the peace officer administer a test of your blood alcohol level.”


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 prohibitions?

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 proper evidence.

Harry Veuger

Harry would love to receive some feedback from people in regards to this.

Motor Vehicle Act

Motor Vehicle Act Regulation

Blue Divider Line

You can't drink until you are 19 years old in BC, but when you are 10 years old you can hunt and shoot a gun?

There sure are some strange laws

Funny that you only have to be 10 years old to hunt with a gun, but you have to be 16 years old to drive a car, and 18 to drink in a bar in Alberta and Quebec, or 19 years old to drink in a bar in BC and the rest of Canada LOL!

Wildlife Act
[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 488
This Act is current to May 18, 2011

Hunting and licences

11 (1) A person who hunts wildlife commits an offence unless the person holds all of the following:

(a) a hunting licence issued to the person under this Act;

(b) any limited entry hunting authorization that is required by regulation;

(c) any other licence that is required by regulation;

(d) any other permit that is required by regulation.

(1.1) Subsection (1) does not apply to a person under 14 years of age on whose behalf the parent or guardian holds a hunting licence issued in accordance with section 17 (5).

(2) A person must not issue a hunting licence for a person under 10 years of age.

(3) and (4) [Repealed 2003-90-24.]

(5) A person under 18 years of age commits an offence if the person hunts unless the person is accompanied by and under the close personal supervision of a person who

(a) is 18 years of age or older, and

(b) holds, or is exempted from holding, a hunting licence.

(6) [Repealed 2003-90-24.]

(7) A person must not issue a trapping licence to a person unless the applicant is a citizen of Canada or a permanent resident of Canada.

(8) A person commits an offence if the person traps fur bearing animals unless he or she holds a trapping licence.

(9) Subsections (1) (a) and (c) and (8) do not apply to an Indian residing in British Columbia.

-------------------------------------------

Youth licences

17 (1) A person who

(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 to

(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 licence.

Blue Divider Line

Mantler stripped of RCMP pay
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 62313 - May 30, 2011

Disgraced RCMP Const. Geoff Mantler has had his RCMP paycheque stripped.

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 Monday morning.

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 investigations.

The decision to suspend Mantler with pay was made at headquarters in Ottawa following a recommendation by the RCMP Commanding Officer in B.C.

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 was withheld.

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 evidence.

Blue Divider Line

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 ROADSIDE BREATHALIZER?

Good evening.

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.

http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/osmv/impaired-driving/index.htm#glp

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 can't!

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 different charges.

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.

Blue Divider Line

RCMP will no longer hang out in bar parking lots
AM1150 News - 4/5/2011 - by Wendy McLeod - Kelowna
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Kelowna RCMP making changes to how they deter people from drinking and driving.

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.

Blue Divider Line

Courts in crisis [part 1 of Justice Denied series]
Surrey Leader By Jeff Nagel - March 18, 2011

Samiran Lakshman is president of the B.C. Crown Counsel Association.

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 unpunished.

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 delayed.

"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 last year.

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" situation.

"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 tossed.

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 wait.

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 rising demand.

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 acceptable levels.

•••

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 "hopelessly overbooked."

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 courts.

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 problem.”

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.”

kdiakiw "at" surreyleader.com

 

Victims in limbo [Part 2 of Justice Denied series]
Summerland Review - By Jeff Nagel - March 25, 2011

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 help.

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 revolving door."

Domestic abuse cases are supposed to move through the courts within three months.

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 usually forever.

"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 free.

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 2007.

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 months.

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 Vancouver Island.

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," Turpel-Lafond said.

"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 completely unacceptable."

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 changed.

The need for speed may be just as important when youths are charged with crimes.

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 drunk driver.

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 the accused.

"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 prosecutors.

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 autobody technician.

"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 closure?"

Do you have a personal story of delay in the court system? Email jnagel@surreyleader.com

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.

LONGEST DELAYS
(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

JUDGES' WARNING
"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

----------------------------------

An RCMP officer writes a traffic ticket in Surrey
Okanagan Similkameen - By Jeff Nagel - March 31, 2011

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 violated.

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 unacceptable delays.

"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 built up.

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 January 2011.

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 matters.

"The ministry is aware of the backlog and is considering its options for ways to reduce it," said attorney general ministry spokesperson Linda Mueller.

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 million annually.

•••

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 applications."

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 the rest.

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 repeated occasions.

"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 of judges."


jnagel "at" surreyleader.com



TRAFFIC FINES

- 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 essential service.

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 is needed.

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 lawyers.

"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 justice initiatives.

"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 McKimm.

"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 lives."

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 Federation.

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.

Blue Divider Line

Council to discuss legal grow-ops
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 60857 - Mar 17, 2011

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 gangs.

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 Shepherd.

"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 community.

"They should consider giving legal marijuana through pharmacies rather than home-based marijuana grow-ops."

Blue Divider Line

Poll we saw on Castanet.net Feb 21, 2011, and below is the result after the poll was closed.

Do you plan on attending Sunday's Protest Against Police Brutality?

Yes 306
No 1252
Total votes 1558

Blue Divider Line

Carry this card for if you are ever arrested.  It explains to the arresting officer, you wish to exercise your rights, including your right to remain silent.

Blue Divider Line

Protesters seek RCMP accountability
Castanet.net - by Daniel Hayduk - Story: 60293 - Feb 20, 2011

A group of approximately 100 protesters gathered on the steps of the Kelowna Law Courts building on Sunday to hear from victims of police brutality.

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 hope.

"Everybody is supporting me and they have got my support, I wish them luck."

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.

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 Monday.

"We are requesting the province to have a public board formed that will deal with police brutality issues."

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."

Blue Divider Line

Sleep it off in your car at own risk
Kelowna Capital News - By Paul Hergott - February 11, 2011

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 driving.

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 reconsider.

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 recently

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 home.

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 criminal.

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.

paul "at" hlaw.ca

Blue Divider Line

Policing remains a vital service
Vernon Morning Star - January 22, 2011

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 and see.

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 community.

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon January 13, 2011 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting

There was nothing mentioned about the Okanagan Correctional Center in the Highlights of the RDCO Board Meeting

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio January 13, 2011 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting .mp3 (33.9 MB)

Windows Media File Icon January 13, 2011 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about the Okanagan Correctional Center - .wma (1.63 MB)

January 13, 2011 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

Item 6.1 Okanagan Correctional Centre Site.pdf

*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.

Rich Coleman,
Solicitor General

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• 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.

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• 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);

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio January 13, 2011 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting .mp3 (33.9 MB)

Windows Media File Icon January 13, 2011 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about the Okanagan Correctional Center - .wma (1.63 MB)

January 13, 2011 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

5. DELEGATIONS

No delegation

6. CORRESPONDENCE
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.

SHEPHERD/HODGE
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.

CARRIED

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio January 13, 2011 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting .mp3 (33.9 MB)

Windows Media File Icon January 13, 2011 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about the Okanagan Correctional Center - .wma (1.63 MB)

Blue Divider Line

Judge shortage forcing out cases
Vernon Morning Star - December 18, 2010

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 Resources.

“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 appointed.

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.

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B.C. police recall 2,200 breathalyzers over inaccurate readings
By Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun November 19, 2010

For now, police will not issue roadside suspensions of three days or longer

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 issue.

lpynn "at" vancouversun.com

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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B.C. saw one jail- or police-linked death every three weeks: Report
By Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun October 27, 2010

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 cent).

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.

— Saskatchewan: 16 deaths from 2000 to 2006.

— Yukon: 8 deaths from 1992 to 2007.

lculbert "at" vancouversun.com

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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Establishments offering safe rides home
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 57804 - Oct 26, 2010

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 home safely."

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 one more.

"This is our winter staff because we are not as busy as we once were."

McCulloch, like Waterfront Grill, has also started offering a shuttle service.

Their service runs from 5 p.m. until closing time Wednesday through Saturday.

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 very good."

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Council questions LCB rulings
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 57785 - Oct 26, 2010

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 festival.

"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 Hodge.

"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 another letter.

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.

Blue Divider Line

Video: Cops question drunk driving regs
by Castanet Staff - Story: 57702 - Oct 21, 2010

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 driving.

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 $4,000.

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 prohibitions.

"While these tallies are alarming, I commend law enforcement officers for their efforts," says B.C. Solicitor General, Michael de Jong.

"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 injury."

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 from impairment."

He adds the number of crashes attributed to driving too fast for conditions increases significantly in the winter.

Blue Divider Line

21,000 tickets for speeding, drinking, cellphones
ctvbc.ca - By: Darcy Wintonyk - Thursday Oct. 21, 2010

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.

Impaired Driving

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 while impaired.

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.

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B.C. Minister says RCMP needs attitude adjustment

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 general.

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 jurisdiction.

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 community level."

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 incremental.

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 undergo."

He said that would mean a change by the federal government of the RCMP Act.

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.

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Cops who tethered teen abused authority: adjudicator
By: ctvbc.ca - Tuesday Sep. 28, 2010

In this image from video from May, 2005, 15-year-old Willow Kinloch lies tethered in a padded cell in Victoria, B.C.

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 they're drunk.

Kinloch sued the Victoria Police Department for violating her charter rights, and was awarded $60,000 by a B.C. Supreme Court jury in 2008.

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.

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Free legal advice offered in Kelowna streets
Kelowna Capital News - September 02, 2010

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 clinics.

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.

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Public hearings on future of legal aid will come to Okanagan
Kelowna Capital News - August 05, 2010

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,” continued Doust.

“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.

A submission guide can be found at www.publiccommission.org.

The hearing is scheduled to take place in Kelowna on Sept. 28.

The location has not yet been announced.

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RCMP looking into claims officers watched female prisoners have sex
News 1130 - Dan Burritt - Aug 31, 2010

One officer put on desk duty

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.

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Not enough tickets issued: cops
Kelowna Capital News - By Jennifer Smith - August 24, 2010

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 season.

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 Canada.

At the time, the superintendent disputed some of the figures in the study, but said it accurately depicted the state of affairs at his detachment.

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 McKinnon has actually taken the concerns to the officers, saying “I know you’re busy, but take the time to write a few tickets.”

jsmith "at" kelownacapnews.com

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Police using 'N' decals on police cars to catch speeders
By Cam Tucker, The Abbotsford Times August 17, 2010

Driver claims entrapment

An N decal may appear on a police officer's vehicle near you.

Photograph by: Novice Driver decal, ICBC RoadSense

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 indicated.

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 said.

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," said MacDonald.

"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.

Copyright (c) Abbotsford Times

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RCMP criticized for strapping drunk man to chair
Vivian Luk, Vancouver Sun: Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Williams Lake resident Lloyd Gilbert was tied to a chair for three hours.

Photo Credit: Screen grab, YouTube

RELATED

Video: Inside the Williams Lake RCMP cell.

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 sink.

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 individuals.

"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 release.

"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 instructions."

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 him.

An investigation of the incident will begin shortly, he said.

vluk "at" vancouversun.com

Blue Divider Line

Stockwell is nice guy, not great speaker

To the editor:

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 crime.

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.

Scott Ross

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Pickton murders: Explosive evidence the jury never heard
By Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun August 5, 2010

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 graphic information.

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 death.

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 attacked them.

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 that:

• 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 seven years.

• 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 killing.

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 fact evidence.”

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 trial longer.

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 Pickton.

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 “gun nut.”

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.

lculbert "at" vancouversun.com

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B.C. suspends penile sex tests on young offenders
CBC News - Wednesday, July 28, 2010

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 this."

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, said Holmes.

"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.

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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?

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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.

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Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1982

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Property Law Act
[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 377

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Law and Equity Act
[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 253
This Act is Current to March 17, 2010

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.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

These are just some of the UK Laws we found
Not sure that these laws are applicable or not, but might be worth looking into

 

Paymaster General Act 1848 (c.55)

Indictable Offences Act 1848 (c.42)

House of Lords Costs Taxation Act 1849 (repealed) (c.78)

Judicial Factors Act 1849 (c.51)

Sequestration Act 1849 (c.67)

Court of Session Act 1850 (c.36)
50. Parties may choose their own jury.

Piracy Act 1850 (c.26)

Landlord and Tenant Act 1851 (c.25)

COURT OF CHANCERY ACT 1851 (c. 83) (c.83)

High Peak Mining Customs and Mineral Courts Act 1851

Criminal Justice Administration Act 1851 (c.55)

Crown Lands Act 1851 (c.42)
21. Commissioners of Works, &c. to perform the duties formerly performed by Surveyor General.

Evidence Act 1851 (c.99)

School Sites Act 1852 (c.49)

School Sites Act 1849 (c.49)

Commissioners of Works Act 1852 (c.28)

Entail Amendment Act 1853 (c.94)

Entail Amendment Act 1848 (c.36)
Heirs, Creditors, Executor, Private Roads, Improvements, Trust, Lease, Bond, Rent, Estate, Debts, Land, Minors, Guardians, Forfeiture, Life Rents, Conveyances, Securities

Evidence Amendment Act 1853 (c.83)

Public Revenue And Consolidated Fund Charges Act 1854 (c.94)

Lands Valuation (Scotland) Act 1854 (c.91)

Inclosure Act 1854 (c.97)
Fencing, Road, and Land

Inclosure Act 1852 (c.79)

Inclosure Act 1849 (c.83)
Easements, Chief Rents, Fishing, Sale of Land, Parishes, Title

Inclosure Commissioners Act 1851 (c.53)

Common Law Procedure Act 1854

Common Law Procedure Act 1852 (c.76)
Tenant, Landlord, Non-payment of Rent

Defence Act 1854

Medical Act of 1858

School Grants Act 1855

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Apology Act
[SBC 2006] CHAPTER 19
Assented to May 18, 2006

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Supreme Court of Canada Decisions Database

BC Supreme Court Decisions Database

BC Provincial Court Decisions Database

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Homeless Have the Right to Camp Out in a Park

In the Supreme Court of BC
Victoria (City) v. Adams

Dec 9, 2009
http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/CA/09/05/2009BCCA0563.htm

July 30, 2009
http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/09/10/2009BCSC1043.htm

April 3, 2009
http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/CA/09/01/2009BCCA0172.htm

Sept 8, 2008
http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/Jdb-txt/SC/08/12/2008BCSC1209.htm

Oct 14, 2008
http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/Jdb-txt/SC/08/13/2008BCSC1363.htm

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Saving taxpayers money through cuts to legal aid
By David W. Dickinson, Vancouver Sun July 22, 2010 Re: The deterioration of legal aid, Letters, July 10

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

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Mounties got their man and the taxpayer paid
CTV News - Wednesday Jul. 21, 2010

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 since retired.

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 company.


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 construction industry.


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

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Life in prison for brutal killings
Castanet.net - by Kelly Hayes - Story: 55796 - Jul 16, 2010

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 knife.

It was Smith's mother, Marla, who found her daughter's lifeless body.

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.

This 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 served 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.

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B.C. body armour rule takes effect
By Tom Fletcher - BC Local News - July 04, 2010

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, 2009.
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 exemption, and

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 court.

Vancouver Police encountered people with body armour and no legitimate use for it 230 times between 2002 and 2009.

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Decision serves public interest
Vernon Morning Star - June 22, 2010

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 was opened.

The justification was the recovery of some of the costs associated with providing the online service, and to discourage frivolous record searches.

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 impact.

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 distances away.

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 fees.

Last week, the AG announced the online fee would be scrapped as of Aug. 31.

It was a commendable decision, ultimately made in the public interest.

— Nanaimo News Bulletin

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Higher background check fees okayed
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 55444 - Jun 29, 2010

Not-for-profit organizations will soon have to pay more for criminal background checks.

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 reports.

Client Services Supervisor, Anita Rideout, says the cost of processing police service requests is no longer offset by the fees charged.

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.

She adds the fees charged return to city coffers.

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Walk for missing and murdered women
Castanet.net - by Daniel Hayduk - Story: 55403 - Jun 26, 2010

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 Rupert.

The investigation into Chipman's disappearance lasted about a year, Radek says.

“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.”

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CSIS claim puts civic politicians under 'unfair' cloud
By Jeff Nagel - BC Local News - June 23, 2010

Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Richard Fadden.
CBC

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 politicians.

"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 investigation.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the bombings that killed 331 people.

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 matters.”

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 donations.

Nothing stops a foreign donor from contributing huge amounts, even $1 million.

"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 donations.

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.

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Decision serves public interest
Vernon Morning Star - June 22, 2010

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 was opened.

The justification was the recovery of some of the costs associated with providing the online service, and to discourage frivolous record searches.

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 impact.

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 distances away.

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 fees.

Last week, the AG announced the online fee would be scrapped as of Aug. 31.

It was a commendable decision, ultimately made in the public interest.

— Nanaimo News Bulletin

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Judge issues jail time over seniors’ home arson
Vernon Morning Star - By Roger Knox - June 17, 2010

The judge had some sympathy for the man convicted of arson but, in the end, he couldn’t have the man “running loose with lighters.”

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 faulty lighter.

“I’m sorry for lighting the fire, but it was an accident,” said Niehaus.

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 client’s safety.

“You talk about the community needing protection. Mr. Niehaus does as well.”

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.

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Emery off to U.S., but awaiting word on serving sentence in Canada
By Laura Baziuk, The Province May 11, 2010

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.

lbaziuk "at" theprovince.com

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Heed quits again over donation
Vernon Morning Star - By Tom Fletcher - BC Local News - May 05, 2010

Kash Heed finds himself out of cabinet again, just hours after he was reinstated.
Tom Fletcher/Black Press Photo

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 Robert Gillen.

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Heed campaign supporters charged
Vernon Morning Star - By Tom Fletcher - BC Local News - May 03, 2010

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 report.

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 inheritance.

"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.

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Tougher law garners support
Vernon Morning Star - April 29, 2010

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 breath test.

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 30 days.

“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 recent years.

— with files from Black Press reporter Tom Fletcher

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B.C. to require reporting of gunshot wounds
By Tom Fletcher - BC Local News - April 26, 2010

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.

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Mother drops lawsuit against RCMP in Ian Bush shooting
Vernon Morning Star - April 21, 2010

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 more evidence.

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 the RCMP.

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 said.

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Vancouver police officer charged with trafficking marijuana, fired by chief
Straight.com - By Staff - April 21, 2010

Vancouver police chief Jim Chu at the Chinese New Year parade in February.

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 extraordinary investigation.

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 VPD.

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 developed.

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 off duty.

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 miss anything.

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.

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Heed faces new fight in wrongful dismissal suit
CTV News ctvbc.ca- By Bethany Lindsay - Apr. 20, 2010

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 claim.

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 defence.

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I didn't know about brochure: Heed
By Tom Fletcher - BC Local News - April 12, 2010

Vancouver-Fraserview MLA Kash Heed speaks to reporters at the legislature Monday.

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 cabinet.

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 election campaign.

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 resignation.

Campbell has appointed B.C. Attorney General Mike de Jong to serve as interim public safety minister.

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Public Safety Minister Kash Heed resigns
Vernon Morning Star - By Tom Fletcher - BC Local News - April 09, 2010

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 Vancouver-Fraserview.

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 suspect.

"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," Heed said.

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 investigation."

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.

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Local man in trouble again for possessing bear spray
Kelowna Capital News - By Cheryl Wierda - April 09, 2010

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 weapon.

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.

cwierda "at" kelownacapnews.com

Blue Divider Line

Loss of Legal Aid diminishes our rights
Kelowna Capital News - February 11, 2010

To the editor:

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 astray.

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 any issue?

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?

Grant Baudais,
Kelowna

Blue Divider Line

Access to legal aid facing challenges
Kelowna Capital News - By Mike Simmons - February 05, 2010

The office of a non-profit organization that provided legal advice to those in Kelowna who could not afford it will soon be closed.

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 March 26.

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 services.

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 law services.

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 services.

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 province.”

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 society’s clients.

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 situations.

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 and frustrating.

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 it.

“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 services.”

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 of incarcerations.

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 legal assistance.

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 protected.

She said people should have access to good legal counsel but she anticipates that more people will have to represent themselves in court.

“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.”

msimmons "at" kelownacapnews.com

Blue Divider Line

Teen resists help attempt
Vernon Morning Star - March 23, 2010

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 teen.

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.

Blue Divider Line

Time for cameras in court: DeJong
Castanet.net - by Kim Calloway - Power 104 - Story: 53361 - Mar 17, 2010

B.C.'s attorney general thinks it's high time media cameras were allowed into the province's courtrooms.

Mike DeJong has told local station CHBC he'll push for routine access for cameras to cover B.C. court proceedings.

The AG says the public has the right to see how the courts operate, and having camera coverage would be a good way to de-mystify the court process.

"It may have been fine in 1850 or 1930 to close that big oak door" says DeJong, referring to B.C.'s historic court procedures "to pretend it was a different universe, but it's not."

DeJong says the public has a right to know what happens in courtrooms, so the procedures can be better understood.

Cameras are traditionally banned from active courtrooms in this province, except for formal occasions like the introduction of a new judge.

Blue Divider Line

RCMP officer enters guilty plea
Vernon Morning Star - By Roger Knox - March 13, 2010

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 driving charge.

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 dismissal.”

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.

Blue Divider Line

Documentary filmmaker focuses on prisoner rehab
Kelowna Capital News - February 12, 2010

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 prisoners.

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 process.

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.

Blue Divider Line

Vernon cop arrested for drunk driving
Castanet.net - by RCMP - Story: 51630 - Dec 21, 2009

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 in Vernon.

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

Blue Divider Line

Victim wants some of gangster's cash
Castanet.net - by Kelly Hayes - Story: 51247 - Dec 4, 2009

Dave Loeppkey says the government has to buck-up to victims of crime.

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.

Blue Divider Line

Agreement gives municipality more control over cops
By Jason Luciw - Kelowna Capital News - Published: February 28, 2009

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 people.

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said however, one can’t accurately compare

policing needs in his municpality with those in the three larger centres.

“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

McKinnon.

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 stated.

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 year.)

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.

jluciw [at] kelownacapnews.com

Blue Divider Line

New unit targets gangs in the Okanagan
Vernon Morning Star - By Roger Knox - Published: February 17, 2009

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,” said McVarnock.

“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 Interior.”

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 George.

Additional funding for the move will be split between Victoria and Ottawa.

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 gang members.

A gang hotline will be set up to receive those public tips.

– With files from the Kelowna Capital News

Blue Divider Line

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 today.

“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.

Link to More Information:

Backgrounder –- Gangs and Guns Targeted in Public Safety Initiative

Information Bulletin -- Illegal Gun Action Plan Released

Blue Divider Line

The entire illegal guns report can be viewed online

Blue Divider Line

Justice limited
By Cheryl Wierda - Kelowna Capital News - Published: January 29, 2009

Access to 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 to some.

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.

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Community courts considered
By Jennifer Smith - Kelowna Capital News - Published: January 27, 2009

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.

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Crooks make off with bank machines
Vernon Morning Star - By Richard Rolke - Published: December 30, 2008

Automated teller machines continue to be popular with thieves.

Police are investigating two separate incidents of ATMs being stolen from North Okanagan businesses.

“It’s a crime right across Canada,” said Gord Molendyk, RCMP spokesman.

On Dec. 22, officers received a report of an ATM being taken from the Mayberry Country Market in Grindrod.

Bars had been pulled off the door to gain access to the store and the ATM was later found abandoned in Salmon Arm.

And on Dec. 26, an ATM was removed from the Bulldog Saloon at Silver Star Mountain.

In that case, someone in the parking lot notified the police of the incident and surveillance video is being reviewed.

It’s not known if the thefts in Grindrod and Silver Star are related.

“There are some similarities in a truck (involved),” said Molendyk.

“It was a white truck in Grindrod and a white truck at Silver Star but it may have had a brown box.”

There have been five or six thefts of ATMs in the North Okanagan in the last few months, and there are about 10 such incidents a week across Canada.

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When it comes to injury claims keep an eye on the clock
Kelowna Capital News - Opinion - Published: October 04, 2008

Injustice makes my skin crawl.

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 cheater.

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 tracks?

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 limit.

If a lawsuit is not started within the time limit, the right to fair compensation expires.

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 insurance company.

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 column.)

She told me about her sister who had been in a crash a couple of years earlier.

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 inquire.

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 hours, the court registry where the lawsuit had to be filed would close.

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 report.

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:

paul"at"hlaw.ca

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!!

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Report raises more questions
June 01, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

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 died.”

(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 privacy laws.

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 questions:

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 not?

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.

Donald Rollins

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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 having them?

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 legal system.”

Gina Louis

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