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LETTER: Random breath testing a violation of our ancient common law rights

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

Thomas Jefferson once stated unequivocally that ‘those who give up essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither.’ Laws that give police the power to pull over drivers and compel them under threat of prosecution to give a breath sample without reasonable grounds to do so are a frightening example of governments fragrantly violating the rights of citizens.

Since December 2018, this has been law in Canada. In a statement that proves just how much disregard elected representatives (our employees) have toward the civil liberties Canadians have fought and bled and died for, weeks before the controversial Bill C-46 was enacted into law, then Justice Minister Jody Wilson – Raybould publicly said she was confident mandatory screening would survive a court challenge, as the measures are ‘minimally intrusive’ but the lives saved will be ‘immeasurable.’

If that is minimally intrusive, and therefore not a violation of Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, then how soon will it be acceptable for police to walk into our homes without a warrant? You know. Just to make sure we’re not breaking any laws. (After all, any random house on your street could be a meth lab or a kidnapped child could be held there). And if we refuse, we’re put in handcuffs and made paper criminals via a litany of laws designed by political and bureaucratic elites to criminalize the general public?

Since 1215, when King John’s refusal to honor the Magna Carta led to a bloody civil war in England, our rights to unreasonable search and seizure, due process and a fair trial have been enshrined. Driving may be a privilege, but we do not have to give up our true rights in order to have this privilege.

Impaired driving is a scourge. And it must be stopped. But violating the constitutional rights of Canadian citizens (many of whom never drink and drive or drink period) under the guise of public safety (and from pressure from lobby groups such as MADD Canada) means that generations of brave men and women who put on the uniform, picked up a rifle and went to war did so for nothing.

Chris McGarry,
Belfast, P.E.I.

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