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This article was published 4/5/2018 (1031 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
James Aisaican-Chase may have lost the battle, but he doesn’t plan to lose the war.
Aisaican-Chase, 72, was found guilty Friday of driving through a Winnipeg red light in October 2015, bringing to a close the first leg of a legal fight he’s been waging for 21/2 years.
He was fined $203, but plans to appeal the verdict to a higher court.
During that time, he’s also been waging a battle on another front.
The 72-year-old Winnipegger has stage 4 metastasized cancer.
In December 2016, he was given six months to live.
"I’ve just been robbed again," Aisaican-Chase told reporters Friday morning, shortly after the verdict. "They’re making up their own despotic laws to make as much money as they can. That’s the way I feel."
The outcome hinged on the judge’s decision that it was a case of absolute — rather than strict — liability.
Under absolute liability, a person can be found guilty even if there was no intent to commit a crime.
That decision undercut Aisaican-Chase’s defence that he acted reasonably in the situation.
Mark Toews, Aisaican-Chase’s lawyer, said he believes there is a strong case to be made that the matter should have been decided under strict liability rather than absolute.
"In our mind, that was the appropriate precedent to follow. We intend to continue that discussion on appeal," Toews said.
In October 2015, Aisaican-Chase was driving to a doctor’s appointment when the light at the heavily travelled intersection of Bishop Grandin Boulevard and River Road changed to amber.
The roadway has a speed limit of 80 kilometres an hour and the length of the amber light is four seconds.
Feeling he was unable to stop in time safely, Aisaican-Chase sailed through the intersection.
He received a red-light ticket in the mail a few weeks later.
During his trial, Aisaican-Chase argued that four seconds of amber light was too short for the intersection, and that he would have placed other drivers at risk had he slammed on his brakes.
The case has been financed by Todd Dube, founder of Wise Up Winnipeg.
The local ticket-fighting group has been lobbying the City of Winnipeg for more than a decade to lengthen amber-light times, and had flown in traffic and engineering experts to testify for the defence.
Wise Up Winnipeg argued the short amber-light times, as well as the city’s photo-enforcement program, should both be scrapped.
Instead of being about safety, as the city contends, it is about turning a profit, Dube alleged Friday.
"No other city in the world has four-second amber-light times at high-speed intersections. We’re fighting to have the laws of physics applied to Winnipeg. And we just got beaten by a self-serving system that is protecting the revenue of this program... Shame on them," Dube said.
"This court is unfair. It’s so ridiculously biased towards the Crown and the city. We expected to lose today. We’re fully prepared to appeal and we’re going to file that immediately. The facts are going to prevail."
Aisaican-Chase has 30 days to appeal.
Diagnosed with terminal cancer, he wasn’t expected to be alive to see the outcome of the trial, which is why he testified in advance in April 2017.
He said he plans on fighting until he feels justice is served.
"I’m planning on staying alive," Aisaican-Chase said.
"If it takes 30 years to get justice out of this, I don’t care. I’m going to fight it, because I’m motivated to fight it.
"I believe in this city. The people of this city are getting robbed blindly by this court."
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.