Changes to Impaired Driving Laws for Marijuana and Alcohol – CFAX Legally Speaking

Victoria Lawyer Michael Mulligan on CFAX 1070 – Legally Speaking – discussing proposed changes to impaired driving laws for both drugs and alcohol.

Bill C-46 has passed third reading and, if it becomes law, will make a number of significant changes to impaired diving laws in Canada.

Currently, before a police officer is permitted to require a driver to blow into an alcohol screening device, they are required to have reasonable grounds to suspect that the driver have alcohol in their body. The proposed changes would permit alcohol screening tests to be required without any grounds to suspect a driver has alcohol in their body.

In some parts of the United States, where random blood alcohol testing has been authorized, courts have required police to publish in advance how and where testing will be conducted in order to guard against testing being demanded on the basis of discriminatory factors such as race.

In addition, as is currently the case for alcohol, new offences would be created if a driver has specified levels of THC in their blood. This is proving to be controversial as there is no scientific consensus with respect to what levels of THC would actually impair a person’s ability to drive.

Frequent users of marijuana could have the prohibited levels of THC in their blood for days after they last used marijuana. They would be subject to criminal prosecution if they drove during this time.

It is likely that the proposed legal changes will result in legal uncertainty with respect to both the constitutionality of random breath testing as well as THC limits that may not correspond with impairment.

Listen to the show here.

Michael Mulligan is a lawyer at Mulligan Tam Pearson in Victoria. Legally Speaking is live on CFAX 1070 at a new time: 10:30am on Thursdays

RCMP Agent Admits Killing Two People – CFAX Legally Speaking

Victoria Lawyer Michael Mulligan on CFAX 1070 – Legally Speaking – discussing the evidence of an RCMP Agent who admitted to killing two people under oath.

During a Victoria drug trafficking trial, an RCMP agent admitted to killing two unrelated people. The RCMP agent, Matthew Holland, has a criminal record for offences including manslaughter, but has not been arrested or charged with respect to the two people additional people he testified that he killed.

Mr. Holland testified that one of the people he killed picked him up hitchhiking. He testified that he beat the man severely, dragged him from his car, and left him for dead somewhere along the Malahat. He testified that he did this twenty years ago.

He also admitted to beating, stomping on, and leaving a man, apparently dead, behind a bar in Courtenay.

Because Mr. Holland’s admissions occurred in court they could not be used against him in a prosecution for the offences he admitted to. Independent evidence would be required.

The decision by the RCMP to employ someone like Mr. Holland raises important questions about the need for civilian oversight of the RCMP. Mr. Holland was paid more than $100,000 by the RCMP to work for them and purchase cocaine as part of a drug investigation and has not been arrested for the crimes he has admitted committing.

Listen to the show here.

Read the transcript of Mr. Holland’s admissions here.

Legally Speaking is live on CFAX 1070 Thursdays at 2:00pm.

Expedite Accident Clearing – Michael Mulligan on CFAX Legally Speaking

 Victoria Lawyer Michael Mulligan on CFAX 1070 – Legally Speaking – discussing a proposal by North Vancouver to amend the Motor Vehicle Act to expedite the clearing of car accidents.

Currently, Motor Vehicle Act regulations require police officers to complete an accident report when there appears to be more than $1,000 in damage.

In some circumstances, this can result in vehicles being left to block traffic on busy roads or bridges.

The District of North Vancouver has submitted a resolution for consideration by the Union of BC Municipalities to increase the threshold for mandatory accident reports to $10,000 in order to expedite the clearing of accidents.

The proposal has been met with resistance from police officers who have argued that statistical information from minor accident can assist in identifying dangerous locations.

Listen to the show here: Legally Speaking.

Michael Mulligan is a lawyer at Mulligan Tam Pearson in Victoria. Legally Speaking is live on CFAX 107o Thursdays at 2:00pm.

An alternative to an ICBC rate hike – a deductible

Victoria Lawyer Michael Mulligan on CHEK News proposing an alternative to a 30% ICBC rate hike: adding a deductible for drivers who cause accidents. Requiring divers who cause an accident to pay a deductible, such as that which applies if you make a claim for a broken window, would save ICBC money directly and encourage safe driving without requiring substantially increased premiums for drivers who don’t cause accidents.

Harold Backer released on $50,000 bail

Victoria Lawyer Michael Mulligan comments in a story by April Lawrence on CHECK news:

Nobody was answering at the Chemainus home where Harold Backer has been ordered to stay while awaiting trial on fraud charges.

The home belongs to his mother, who told CHEK News by phone she is glad to have her son home to help her.

When asked where he disappeared to for a year and a half, she said she couldn’t tell.

Early Monday evening a scruffy and gaunt looking Backer walked out of the Victoria courthouse after more than two weeks in custody.

He was granted $50,000 bail, and was picked up by his son, refusing to answer any questions, including where he was or why he turned himself in.

It was that act, of coming forward to police, that one criminal lawyer says is likely the reason the 54-year-old was released.

“Where you have an individual who has no previous record, who turns himself in, those would be important considerations for a judge in deciding whether a person needs to be held in custody before they’ve had a trial,” said Michael Mulligan, a criminal lawyer with Mulligan, Tam Pearson in Victoria.

Backer has to abide by 14 conditions while out on bail — they include staying at the home in Chemainus and following a curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., he has to report to a bail supervisor once a week, he can’t trade any securities or work as an investment advisor and he had to surrender all travel documents including his passport.

Mulligan says for the most part, Canada’s bail system of conditions and supervision is effective.

“If you kept everyone in jail waiting for their trial that’s going to make the presumption of innocence pretty hollow sounding for someone who’s alleged to have committed an offense,” said Mulligan.

The former Olympian is being represented by a criminal lawyer from Vancouver who isn’t commenting on the case for now.

Backer is facing two charges of fraud over $5000 dollars, and is also the subject of a civil suit.

One of the alleged victims tells CHEK News the images of Backer emerging from the courthouse show he is “suffering”.

Harold Backer will return to court June 5.

Special Prosecutor for BC Political Donations and Legal Aid Funds Diverted on Legally Speaking

Victoria Lawyer Michael Mulligan on CFAX 1070 – Legally Speaking – discussing the appointment of a special prosecutor, at the request of the RCMP, to deal with the investigation of political donations in BC. In addition, new information reveals the diversion of $135.2 million from the provision of legal aid in 2016.

In British Columbia there are no limits on the amount of money that can be donated to a political party. Donations are permitted from corporations, unions and even foreign corporations.

One of the few legal requirements for political donations in BC is that they not be indirect. A person may not make a donation in their name only to be reimbursed by someone else. The reason for this rule is that while donations are unlimited, it is supposed to be possible to look up who gave how much to which party so that there can be some scrutiny of improper influence or government decisions that benefit donors.

You can search BC political donations here.

When lobbyists, or others, make substantial donations in their own name and are then secretly reimbursed by their clients it becomes much more difficult to determine if the donations resulted in some improper benefit. When you search the database of donations, only the name of the lobbyist would be revealed. Since it was uncovered that donations were being made and recorded in this way by a Globe and Mail investigation, Elections BC asked the RCMP to investigate the matter.

Pursuant to an RCMP request the special prosecutor was appointed to provide legal advice during the investigation, decide if charges should be approved, and then prosecute any charges.

In other legal news, a freedom of information request just revealed the amount of money that was diverted from the legal aid system in British Columbia in 2016.

British Columbia has a special tax on legal services that is supposed to pay for legal aid in the province. The tax was originally introduced by the NDP when they last formed government. Soon after the tax was introduced is began collecting slightly more money than the NDP was providing to the Legal Services Society, which administers legal aid in BC. As a result, when in opposition, the BC Liberal party was extremely critical of the NDP calling it wrong that money collected for the purpose of providing legal aid for the poor would be spent on other things.

Once in government, however, the BC Liberals dramatically cut the legal aid budget but retained the special tax on legal services. The amount of money being collected but not used for legal aid increased every year since.

A Freedom of Information request just revealed how much money was collected pursuant to the special tax in 2016: $193.1 million.

In 2016, the BC Government only provided $72.6 million to the Legal Services Society. Of the $72.6 million, $14.7 million of this was actually a transfer from the federal government to the province of BC to help pay for legal aid.

As a result, in 2016, the BC Government collected $135.2 million more from the special tax on legal services than it spent on legal aid.

As a result, thousands of people in need to legal assistance received no help.

Listen to the show here:

Michael Mulligan is a lawyer at Mulligan Tam Pearson in Victoria. Legally Speaking is live on CFAX1070 Thursdays at 2:00pm.

 

Christy Clark false claim of NDP hacking – Legally Speaking w. Michael Mulligan

Victoria Lawyer Michael Mulligan on CFAX 1070 – Legally Speaking – discussing the legal implications of Christy Clark making false claims that the NDP hacked into the BC Liberal web page.

John Horgan categorically denied the allegation and advised that he had consulted a lawyer concerning a possible civil actions for slander.

The episode is discussed in the context of former premier Vader Zalm being successful sued for $60,000 by  Ted Hughes for false claims made a book written by Vander Zalm.

While MLAs cannot be sued for making defamatory statements in the legislature they enjoy no such privilege for statements made elsewhere. False statements that damage someones reputation are actionable. Repeating the statements can aggravate damages, while retracting them and apologizing can mitigate the damages.

Independent MLA Vicki Huntington later advised that the BC Liberal web site had no password protection and that private donor information was accessible by simply clicking on a link.

Christy Clark has now apologized for her false claim of NDP hacking and promised to improve security on the web page.

Also discussed on the show are reports that Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins plans to seek a nomination to run for the BC Liberals in the next provincial election and how the forthcoming report with respect to suspended Victoria Police Chief Elsner may impact her.

Michael Mulligan is a lawyer at Mulligan Tam Pearson in Victoria. Legally Speaking is live on CFAX 1070 Thursdays at 2:00pm.

 

 

 

Michael Mulligan: Prescription heroin could save lives

Times Colonist option piece: Prescription heroin could save lives

http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/columnists/michael-mulligan-prescription-heroin-could-save-lives-1.6405366

 

How to immediately improve Victoria Safe Consumption Sites – Michael Mulligan

Victoria Lawyer Michael Mulligan on CFAX 1070 – Legally Speaking – discussing how to improve Victoria Safe Consumption Sites immediately by utilizing the federal Special Access Program.

755 people died of drug overdoses in British Columbia from January to November 2016.

 One of the principle reasons for this large number of overdose deaths has been the increasing provenance of fentanyl: an opioid 100 times more powerful than heroin. Fentanyl is often substituted for, or added to, other illegal drugs.

 A single envelope of pure fentanyl is enough to produce thousands of pills and tens of thousands of dollars in profit. 1kg of fentanyl, which can be purchased online for less than $100,000, is enough to produce 1 million pills that can be sold for $20 each. 

It’s unrealistic to think we are going to prevent such a concentrated substance from entering the country when there is an enormous profit motive. Long experience has shown us that we are not able to do so even with much less concentrated drugs.

Fentanyl overdoses occur because the original substance, or pills that are produced from it, are of varying strength. Because the substance is so potent even a small variation in concentration can cause death. Because the substance is produced illegally it is not subject to any quality control and variations in the amount of the active ingredient is a certainty.

For people addicted to opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, their daily existence typically involves the commission of property offences, or the sale of their bodies, in a desperate effort to secure enough money to purchase more drugs and avoid the pain of withdrawal. The impact of these activities, along with the corruption and criminal organizations they foster, are the costs we all pay for of our failed efforts to solve this problem.

Safe consumption sites reduce the number of deaths by allowing antidotes to be administered more quickly once people overdose and by providing clean needles to reduce disease transmission. As currently operated, however, they are a half measure.

The premise of a safe consumption site is that people addicted to these substances bring their own drugs, of unknown strength, purchased with money often obtained by crime, to consume.

On September 19, 2016, the federal government reinstated a program that permits doctors to apply for special access to prescribe pharmaceutical-grade heroin to people who are severely addicted.

The Special Access Program requires an application to be made by a doctor, or other medical practitioner, for special permission to prescribe the drug where a patient has a serious or life-threatening condition, such as a serious opioid addiction, where other treatments have failed, are unsuitable, or are unavailable.

Permission to prescribe pharmaceutical-grade heroin can typically be obtained within 24 hours of submitting the application to do so. For people suffering from a chronic condition permission can be granted for up to six months at a time.

Currently Island Health staffs safe consumption sites in Victoria with a paramedic, tasked with resuscitating people once they inevitably overdose on illegally optioned drugs.

Island Health should also staff the consumption sites with a doctor to assess people and make applications, in suitable cases, for inclusion in the Special Access Program. Rather than administering naloxone to people overdosing on illegally obtained drugs, the currently assigned paramedic could help with the applications and monitor the use of the legally obtained, safer, pharmaceutical-grade heroin.

Operating safe consumption sites in this way would save lives and reduce the property crime caused by people attempting to obtain money to purchase dangerous drugs illegally.

Communities surrounding safe consumption sites, operated in this way, would not have to deal with a concentration of drug trafficking and property crime.

The profit motive to import and manufacture dangerous illegal drugs would be reduced as people provided with safer prescription drugs would no longer be buyers. 

It would also reduce the sex trade as this activity is also driven by people desperately trying to earn money to pucrases drugs illegally.

Once people who are severely addicted are stabilized, and no longer spending their days trying to obtain drugs illegally, there would be an opportunity to encourage and provide detox and drug treatment.

Finally, operating safe consumption sites in this way would be lawful. While the federal government has introduced legislation that will eventually make it easier to obtain permission to open a safe consumption sites where people consume illegally obtained drugs, this is not yet in place and the sites in Victoria enjoy no exemption from federal drug legislation. At least in theory, operating a safe consumption sites operating without such an exemption may amount to being a party to offences pursuant to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Listen to the show:

Michael Mulligan is a lawyer at Mulligan Tam Pearson in Victoria. Legally Speaking is live on CFAX 1070 Thursdays at 2:00.