Statement from David Swann: Due process matters even in small cases

By , on April 5, 2014

Alberta Liberal leader David Swann. Photo by Dave Cournoyer via Wikipedia.
Alberta Liberal leader David Swann. Photo by Dave Cournoyer via Wikipedia.


CALGARY – Alberta Liberal Human Services critic David Swann has released the following statement in response to Justice Minister Jonathan Denis’ proposal to do away with Traffic Courts:

“At first glance, the government’s proposal to dismantle the Traffic Court System, and replace it with an administrative system where an arbitrator would process speeding tickets and similar minor traffic offenses, may not look like a big deal. But it is.

“It is a big deal because the right to a fair trial is of vital importance to Albertans, and indeed, all Canadians. That is why it is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“What this says, in short, is that due process matters – even in small cases.

“The right to a fair trial is absolute, which is what the existing Traffic Court System honours. Right or wrong, if an Albertan chooses to fight a traffic ticket, which is also their right, then the onus is on the Crown to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. For example: they must show that the radar gun worked, that it was well maintained, and that the officer in question did his job by the book.

“The minister thinks this process is expensive and cumbersome, and it may well be. But justice is rarely simple, clean, and easy. It is, however, the duty of the government to protect and uphold justice – whether the PCs like it or not.

“Charter rights are guaranteed whether or not there is a more ‘efficient’ and ‘cost-effective’ way to adjudicate disputes.

“We must not allow this arrogant PC government to continue picking and choosing when to honour the Charter rights of Albertans. It was wrong when the PCs brought in Bill 45, which was an assault on the free speech rights of Albertans who may choose to speak or write in favour of an illegal strike. It was wrong when the PCs brought in Bill 46, which was an attack on the collective bargaining rights of the Alberta Union of Public Employees. And it is wrong for the PCs to even think about doing away with the right to a fair trial – even for something as small as a traffic ticket.

“This PC government’s current enthusiasm for unconstitutional solutions to matters they find irksome or irritating is abhorrent. It must end – and this reckless notion of doing away with due process in matters relating to traffic violations must be abandoned.”

Official statement released 02 April 2014 courtesy of Liberal Communications Office, Alberta Liberal Party.