Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fine, bylaw reforms should reduce hassles

  • Print

Plans to modernize the fines and enforcement of provincial and municipal regulatory offences makes sense and should save Manitobans some considerable inconvenience. At present, even speeding tickets can require appearing before a justice of the peace during business hours, a pain for urbanites, but a significant expense and disruption for rural residents who must travel to provincial court offices in larger towns.

Justice Minister Andrew Swan is amending a variety of statutes -- conservation, animal services, highway traffic acts, for example -- to permit summary-conviction offences to be dealt on the spot with a ticket. The intent is to get minor infractions out of a backlogged provincial court system. Police now, for example, can ticket a speeding driver on the spot, permitting the fine to be mailed in. Or they can also write an offence notice requiring a hearing before a justice of the peace. Similarly, hunting without a licence or tossing garbage out the car window all trigger appearances in front of a JP.

The province will separate minor from serious infractions, retaining a court hearing for the latter. Only those who wish to challenge the validity of a minor offence ticket, or to plead for a lesser fine, will continue to plead to the provincial system. Amendments will also more carefully restrict the power of search and seizure all enforcement officers, including veterinarians, hold now.

Municipalities would run their own screening process to adjudicate minor bylaw infractions, which now are funnelled into the provincial court system. This means municipalities would judge the fairness of tickets issued under their own bylaws, but it also means a screening office could be set up in public areas, such as malls, retail outlets or city buildings outside regular business hours.

The province will be sorting through various statutes to set fines for some offences that are now left to the discretion of a JP or judge. That may produce a windfall to the province, as those being ticketed may well forfeit challenging the cost or validity of the offence notice before a sympathetic justice of the peace, in exchange for the convenience of paying a $100 fine by mail. The province says its intent is to make the new regime as close to revenue-neutral as possible. Fine revenues are easily tracked. If modernizing summary convictions produces a windfall, Mr. Swan should commit to spending that revenue on cutting court backlogs, rather than simply dumping the cash into the treasury.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Gerald Flood, Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 8, 2013 A8

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Blake Wheeler talks about past season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS June 23, 2011 Local - A Monarch butterfly is perched on a flower  in the newly opened Butterfly Garden in Assiniboine Park Thursday morning.
  • A gosling stares near water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you agree with the province’s crackdown on flavoured tobacco products?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google