July 20th, 2024

Bill 21 could threaten Albertans’ right to fair hearing

By Letter to the Editor on July 29, 2020.

I >am a retired >police officer and >court agent operating out of Medicine Hat. >I recently became aware of >the proposed Alberta Administrative Penalties Act that the UCP are trying to sneak through under Bill 21. I also note that this bill has already had second reading. >

With this new legislation traffic court would be gone. >The police will be able >to charge you with an offence under any provincial act >or municipal bylaw, and you will >no longer be an accused but a >recipient. >You will no longer receive a ticket but a “notice of administrative penalty.” >If you want to contest an >allegation you will have seven days to request a review. You >will >also have to pay a prescribed fee. >The review then has to be done >within 21 days. >Also your matter will not be heard before a judge or traffic commissioner, who are legally trained and independent from the state, >it will be heard >before >an “adjudicator” who will be appointed by the government. > > > >

>Next, >once a review is set, the officer’s notes >and documents >will be >accepted by the adjudicator as if >taken under oath. That means the adjudicator will accept these as being >true. The review will not be done in person and you are not allowed to examine or cross-examine any witnesses or >the police officer. >There will now >be >a reverse onus and you will >basically be guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent.

If you disagree with any decision made, you may appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench. Here there are more fees and you will probably need a lawyer.

What >of those with limited education, low-income earners and those who barely speak >English? What about those who may be >targeted because of their religion, race, sexual orientation or political affiliations? >

Could our right to a fair hearing be disadvantaged? With recent events, including Black Lives Matter, I think we all >know the answer to that. There is never a good time to give up our rights and give the state and police unprecedented power. >

This >is just another UCP tactic >to cut government costs and generate >revenue. >I encourage all Albertans to contact their MLAs and ask >if they support >this new proposed legislation that takes away our access to justice and if so, >to maybe consider changing their minds. >

Ken Montgomery

Medicine Hat

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You are 100% correct Mr. Montgomery. I read the story multiple times when it came out becoming more upset each time. I have been before a judge twice in my life, once a witness for the prosecution and once as a defendent. I was charged for a traffic offense, nothing major(hitting a fence in a back alley) and had a police officer that wanted to throw the book at me. I was absolutely responsible for the accident and more than prepared to accept the consequences, but thought some of the charges were excessive. So did the judge. I could go on and tell you the consequences of beating a police officer in court but that’s a story for another day.
What would’ve happened if I was charged under this new model? I am concerned. They put this forward as a way to deal with court backlogs, but at what cost? With having a cost to defend yourself against the state with rules of evidence and cross examination severely curtailed in front someone who isn’t even on the bench is a bad thing, plain and simple. Justice delayed maybe not but just justice denied quite probable.

John P Nightingale

Dangerous times sir.


seems those that adore everything and anything a govt with conservative in its name pronounces, and who blindly and obediently and subserviently embrace anything and everything a govt with conservative in its name does, are willing to surrender freedom and democracy in the name of conservative. no, these simple folk do not support fascism, they simply support conservatives that govern as fascists.

Southern Albertan

It does beggar belief, doesn’t it. It’s a reminder of the nun on Royal Canadian Air Farce doing a comedy routine saying, “Harder…..harder!”