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Chris Selley: Canadians, prepare to be breathalyzed

Global News published a neat sign-of-the-times story on Tuesday: Art, last name withheld, 70 years old and from Streetsville, Ont., reports recently being pulled over by the local constabulary and ordered to provide a breathalyzer sample on pain of arrest. The officer’s stated reason, by Art’s account: at the Beer Store Art had just returned for refund what the officer considered “an excessive amount of bottles.”

Art was sober as a judge, but he cries foul: “They shouldn’t have that right to pull a person over unless there is a good sign the person is doing something wrong.”

Art sounds like a reasonable guy. I imagine a fair number of readers agree with Art, and would be surprised to learn that the simple act of recycling could be grounds for police to jam a doohickey in their mouths. In fact, though, thanks to Bill C-46, which recently came into effect, cops no longer need any reasonable grounds to suspect impairment before demanding a breathalyzer test. So long as they pull you over legally, you’re fair game — and police have virtually unlimited legal powers to pull you over.


There was certainly no shortage of voices warning the Liberals — the “party of the Charter” as Paul Martin famously called them — that they were straying into dangerous moral and constitutional territory.

“Let’s just cut to the chase here,” criminal lawyer Michael Spratt told the Commons committee reviewing the bill prior to its passage. “There will be nothing random with this breath testing. … Visible minorities are pulled over by the police more often for no reason. That’s what is going to happen here.”


Read Chris Selley’s full article here: National Post

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