Earlier today the official Twitter account for the Department of Justice had to issue a clarification after Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, called the organization out for posting a worrying public announcement in both English and French.
In their original announcement, the Justice Canada account clearly stated that you could be arrested if you were to enjoy a drink after driving. The statement seemed to include summer time drinking on your own patio, noting that “It’s summertime and the living is easy! Whether you’re sitting on a patio or having a backyard #BBQ, remember it’s against the #law to have a blood alcohol concentration over prohibited levels within two hours of driving.”
The clarification posted since then pointed to a section in the law that prohibits conviction for those who decide to drink after arriving home safely.
I’d laugh at the awkward tweets if the actual law and the potential repercussions weren’t so damn serious.
While Justice Canada has issued a clarification, their mistake only highlights the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems with the recent legal changes brought forward through the adoption of Bill C-46 and its cousin C-45.
When first proposed, proponents of the bill pointed to drops in the rate of accidents in other countries such as Ireland and Australia, the need to remove two specific and extremely uncommon defences, as well as the need to push forward with more comprehensive provisions due to the impending legalization of marijuana.
While wanting to ensure safety makes sense, the bill put forward by the federal government appears to provide aim at an image of safety, instead of substantively helping address the issue.
According to the Huffington Post, there has been no data “to indicate that the number of impaired drivers on our roadways increased following legalization,” while at the same time, the nation has experienced year over year declines in “impaired driving …since the 1980s.”
While it appears that there is no need for such rampant changes, the unintended consequences of such a move may be extremely serious.
According to several lawyers interviewed by the CBC, not only can the police now come to “your house up to two hours after you stopped driving or boating to test your sobriety,” the charge is considered a “reverse “onus.”
That means if the police charge you, it is on you to prove your blood alcohol level was not over the limit at the time of driving or boating. And if you decide to reject the breath test?
Well, you’ll be charged on the spot.
Take that in for a moment, the Trudeau Liberals appear to have put forward a law so confusing and so poorly made that even the Department of Justice has difficulty explaining it. When it comes to enforcement, ordinary citizens will have to prove their innocence in the face of a disastrously written law.
Worse yet, citizens with the least access to legal or financial aid will have to face criminal charges they are then responsible for proving they are not guilty of, instead of the other way around. A large swath of civil liberty groups and radicalized communities have already “slammed” the move for putting far too many powers into the hands of police.
This lack of need and potential for danger is perhaps why Senators attempted to strip the bill of its most controversial aspects before it became law. Despite this, the Trudeau government, with the help of “independent” Senators, pushed through the bill without accepting any substantive changes.
While this is all jaw-dropping, the decision to move forward with this kind of law in the face of steep opposition is even more shocking. It quickly becomes comedic when you also consider the ease and frequency with which the Liberals will brandish their pro-minority and pro-science reflexes.
At some point the government will have to decide if they actually plan to govern based on science, reason, and data, or if they instead wish to continue wasting precious political capital on PR-short stops which in the long term erode our civil liberties.
What do you think about the recent correction issued by Justice Canada?
Has the federal government put forward a poorly written law?
Join the conversation by commenting below!