Ontario Citizen’s Denied their Day in Court!?!
Today if you make a minor infraction concerning a by-law like a parking ticket, you can please not guilty and have your day in Court. If you provide acceptable mitigating factors (reasons) why you had to break the law, you could even get a reduction in the set fine.
Or sometimes you are just plain guilty and you pay your fine and move on.
The Law Commission of Ontario, an organization tasked with finding ways to reform the legal landscape in which we live, has proposed that legislation be enacted to allow for something called Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMP’s).
Ontarians should be concerned about these penalties because when any agency takes away your option to plead “not guilty”, then your rights under the charter are being trampled. This is how Robert Burd a Law Society of Upper Canada Bencher says AMP’s work:
"AMPS does not provide the public the ability to dispute the charge only the amount of the fine. Thus if you receive a Careless Driving AMP, you are guilty and you can then go online to speak to a hearings officer who may reduce your $490 fine, however the six demerit points would still be there and the insurance ramifications. Thus the public's Charter Rights will be trampled on in order that the Ontario government saves money on Justices of the Peace, court buildings and admin costs while the Municipalities rake in loads of money in fines (AMPs). This is a denial of access to justice." *
Basically the Ontario government wants to make is so that whenever you get a fine for any by-law or provincial offence (Traffic fines, Liquor Act fines, Labour Act, Environmental Protection Act, etc.) you will not be able to fight to prove your innocence of the charge.
That's right, when the by-law officer gives you a ticket, or a cop says you did something that you didn't do, you will have no right to fight it, all you can do is beg to reduce the amount you have to pay.
And who do you beg to? A city employee, employed by the same city that employs the charging officer, and most importantly, the same city that gets to keep the fine as "revenue". Do you think you will get a fair hearing? Come contract negotiation time city employees will simply raise the "revenues" until the city council can no longer say that the city doesn't have the money for their demanded raises.
Think about it, you will have no choice but to pay every fine given to you, regardless if you are actually guilty of it. Got a noise violation ticket issued to you by mistake because the cop didn't realize that you have tenants and they were the ones making the noise? Too bad, pay up! Got a ticket for not having a valid insurance card because the cop couldn't read the dates correctly in the dark on the side of the 401? To bad, so sad, now pay up!
Told a cop you are walking home from the bar and got a ticket for being drunk in public?
Not drunk, don't drink, you're in AA? Too bad, pay up!.
The government will try to sell this to voters as a way to reduce court costs, but you'll never see that saving in your wallet. What you will see is a massive increase in people being ticketed for things, maybe even you, which will actually take more money out of your pocket. Your car insurance will go up (because you don't pay enough already), you will have a more records of "police interactions" that will show up on many back ground checks, and you'll have to bow to will of every officer, because if you displease them they will just give you hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines.
When you start hearing about this from our elected politicians, think about what it means. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance*
*The phrase originated in a statement of Irish orator John Philpot Curran in 1790: "It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance."