Policy Wanks: Bill C-46

New laws imposed by Bill C-46 are under fire

It has been the case in the past where a responsible driver, rather than drinking and driving has slept off two-for-one rum and eggnog nights in their car. As most Canadians know, the winter months don’t offer much hospitality for someone sleeping in a thinly-insulated vehicle. So rather than inviting the winter chill into their temporary domicile they turn on their vehicle and blast the heat to lull them to sleep. That was the case with Conrad Amendt in the throes of a frigid Prince George December. A police officer approached the vehicle, wakes up the inebriated inhabitant and informed him that he had “care and control” of a motor vehicle.

That particular case went to the Supreme Court of British Columbia and it was ruled that Amendt was guilty of the charges laid upon him.

“I find Mr. Amendt never abandoned his intention to drive while impaired,” Justice Meiklem explained in his reasons for judgement. “He simply postponed it by falling asleep while impaired.”

In historical rulings on care and control, the main takeaway can be oversimplified and extrapolated as “don’t get behind the wheel of a car if you are intoxicated. Even if you’re sleeping.” But the new laws that are resultant of Bill C-46 carry with them a far more sinister nature.

Bill C-46 was shoehorned into law as the sister legislation to Bill C-45, the act that legalized recreational cannabis. The bill can be viewed as a legally exploitive quid-pro-quo between the Trudeau government and the Canadian populace. While we now have legal cannabis, in return the Canadian populace has to relinquish some of their driving liberties, even when they’re not driving and that’s the particular area of the bill that has come into the public consciousness recently.

The bill purports to provide police officers with a new framework of dealing with people who engage in excessive alcohol consumption immediately prior to driving so that shortly after they arrive at their destination, will be intoxicated, but will not have measurable amounts of alcohol in their system while driving. The best way to achieve this? Allowing drivers to be charged with driving over the limit for up to two hours after operating a motor vehicle.

The bill expressly states that “everyone commits an offence who has within two hours after ceasing to operate a motor vehicle.” This should raise the ears of anyone who likes to relax with a couple of cold ones after work. Or even people who drive to a restaurant, have some drinks and have a designated driver with them for the ride home.

But maybe we should take our tequila shots with a salt lick and look at section four of the new bill, titled, “exceptions.” The bill states, “No person commits an offence,” if “they consumed the drug or the alcohol or both after ceasing to operate a motor vehicle or vessel.”

So what does this mean? Surely we will start to see a rash of people challenging this new law, both justly and unjustly. Of course, this will result in a series of court cases for our already overburdened legal system. All for a problem, that for all intents and purposes, seems to be a non-issue.