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Pot Plan Delayed? Canada’s Senate Suspends Study over Drug-impaired Driving Bill

Pot Plan Delayed? Canada’s Senate Suspends Study over Drug-impaired Driving Bill

Dina Al-Shibeeb
The Liberal Senate Serge Joyal, an influential chair of the Upper House’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said the proposed bill violates the Charter. (File photo via Canadian Press)

Canada’s Senate has suspended a study over the Trudeau government’s proposed alcohol-and drug-impaired driving legislation until May. This adds new delay to Ottawa’s cannabis-legalization plan, The Globe and Mail reported on Wednesday.

The Liberal Senate Serge Joyal, an influential chair of the Upper House’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said the proposed bill violates the Charter, The Lawyer’s Daily reported.

Joyal said that the bill will also clog already overburdened courts with Charter challenges from coast to coast.

He also said that the Cannabis Act or Bill C-46 as put forward by the government is “full of holes,” counterproductive and needs revisions by the Senate.

Joyal is not alone as other Senators also share his view.

Joyal told The Lawyer’s Daily that the “safest” and “simplest” way to avoid sections – 8,9 and 10(b) – currently found in the proposed bill as warned of by the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), is by amending the Cannabis Act.

The three sections would allow the government to enact mandatory “random” breath testing (RBT) for alcohol at the roadside.  For Joyal and others, this goes against the Canadian Charter.

Amending Bill C-46 means is to “reintegrate” the current requirement, which says that the police must have reasonable suspicion that a driver has alcohol in his or her body before they screen for alcohol at a roadside.

“RBT, in my opinion, is totally contrary to the Charter. There is no question about that,” Joyal said.

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The longtime constitutional lawyer emphasized that the Supreme Court’s approval of roadside screening rested on the existence of a requirement for reasonable suspicion.

“But once you remove that reasonable suspicion and you just start stopping people and compel them to have an intrusive test against [their] privacy rights, this will be contested … not only in the 10 provinces, but in the three territories.”

Canada is expected to legalize recreational marijuana nationwide in July.

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