October 22, 2020

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Top court denies challenge over photo-radar ticket

A decade-long effort by Winnipeg advocates to have courts change how they assess photo-radar tickets was denied by the Supreme Court of Canada. (Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press files)

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A decade-long effort by Winnipeg advocates to have courts change how they assess photo-radar tickets was denied by the Supreme Court of Canada. (Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press files)

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court denied Thursday a Winnipeg group’s bid to have courts change how they assess photo-radar tickets.

The decision is a blow to a decade-long campaign by Winnipeg advocates to have the city change its radar policy, which they claim is dangerous.

"If any case would have to be heard by the Supreme Court, it's this one. There are contrary, conflicting decisions all over the country," said Todd Dubé, whose group Wise-Up Winnipeg bankrolled appeals for a city couple’s 2015 speeding ticket.

James and Anngylla Aisaican-Chase got a $203 photo-radar ticket after running a red light on Bishop Grandin Boulevard at River Road, where they said the four-second amber light was too short for the 80 km/h speed limit.

The pair’s legal team has now failed at all three judicial levels to convince courts that red-light tickets should allow drivers to plead that they haven't been negligent in cases where they couldn't reasonably avoid committing the offence.

As an "absolute liability," a driver can’t get off the hook by demonstrating they took due diligence to avoid committing the offence. The defendants petitioned courts to deem these traffic offences a "strict liability," which would allow those arguments.

James Aisaican-Chase, who was driving the car in 2015, has since died.

Dubé said he’s spent six figures on the legal fight, and was angry to hear Thursday that the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. The justices generally don't explain why they opt against hearing a case.

"The courts have decided that the law of physics do not apply to the region of Manitoba," Dubé contended, disparaging the judges’ reasoning.

He argued Winnipeg’s streets encourage people to make unsafe stops on high-speed roads.

A Free Press investigation last fall found that intersections with stationary photo-radar cameras have registered an ever-increasing number of speeding and red-light tickets over a decade, despite city officials and police claiming they make streets safer.

That report found the intersection where Aisaican-Chase got ticketed had accumulated the most red-light tickets of any city intersection between 2010 and 2019.

Alberta is considering removing photo radars on high-speed routes, after a review found many to be a cash cow that didn’t increase safety, though police have opposed that move.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Thursday, May 7, 2020 at 3:40 PM CDT: Updates story.

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