Liberal impaired driving legislation tying up B.C. courts again

VICTORIA – The Liberal government’s hastily passed impaired driving legislation is facing further opposition in B.C. courts, say New Democrats.

“The Liberal government rammed through the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act with almost no debate in 2010. We are still trying to fix it today,” said New Democrat attorney general critic Leonard Krog. “We have spent nearly three years paying for this badly fumbled legislation, and there is no end in sight.”

Decisions this week in the B.C. Court of Appeal and the B.C. Supreme Court shed light on the government’s bungled interpretation of the act, explained Krog. While the act mandates that the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles receive a report sworn or solemnly affirmed by the police officer, former justice minister Shirley Bond suggested in the legislature that the failure to provide the report as specified would be considered an “administrative error.”

This week, the courts found otherwise – the Court of Appeal noting in its decision that disregarding the clear meaning of the act would be “illogical, if not absurd.” On the former minister’s comments, the court also noted: “Ultimately, the question is not what the minister understood the legislation to mean, but what the meaning of the legislation is.”

“The government was already forced to make amendments to the act in May 2012 – again doing so with almost no debate – in light of the B.C. Supreme Court decision that ruled portions unconstitutional,” said Krog. “These new rulings ensure that this legal wrangling will continue for years to come.”

“We applaud the move to make our roads safer, and have always been in favour of the spirit of this act,” said New Democrat public safety critic Kathy Corrigan. “But we have also pointed to problems that need to be addressed. The Liberals have not done that, and now the legal challenges will continue to pile up, burdening taxpayers and the justice system.”

New Democrats will continue to fight for strong and fair legislation to combat impaired driving on B.C. roads.