Don Healy / Leader-Post
She has permission to take her speeding-ticket fight to Manitoba’s Court of Appeal, but a Winnipeg woman has a long legal road ahead as she continues to push for timely traffic-court trials.
Genevieve Grant is currently fighting 10 photo radar tickets in provincial court. One of them, issued after a vehicle she owned was captured on camera speeding through a school zone in October 2014, is now heading to the province’s top court.
A trial had been set for 18 months less eight days down the road — nearly reaching the Supreme Court-imposed 18-month deadline for provincial court trials. But the case was already in the system when the Supreme Court imposed those deadlines last summer in its R vs. Jordan decision.
In a subsequent decision in March, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Vic Toews ordered the ticket to be reinstated, ruling Grant had not been subjected to "unreasonable" delays.
In a decision this week, Court of Appeal Justice Diana Cameron granted Grant permission to appeal Toews’ decision.
The province’s top court is expected to seize the opportunity to decide whether relatively simple traffic disputes should fall under the same 18-month deadline the Supreme Court set for criminal cases winding their way through provincial courts across Canada. One of the questions the appeal court is expected to answer is whether Toews correctly interpreted the Jordan decision to determine if Grant’s Charter rights were violated.
"Trial judges are interpreting the law differently, and one of the roles of this court is to settle the law," Cameron wrote in her decision.
No appeal hearing date has yet been set.
Grant’s lawyer, Markus Buchart, is awaiting a decision expected today from provincial court Judge Tim Killeen on whether another of Grant’s traffic trials has been unreasonably delayed — it was set for 18 months and 10 days after Grant was ticketed. The trial date is now set for Sept. 29, when arguments on four of her 10 traffic tickets are expected to be heard.
Buchart is arguing court delays have violated his client’s rights and special constables should not be considered peace officers when it comes to doling out tickets.
While he declined to comment to the Free Press, Buchart told court his client intends to keep fighting the tickets.
"She is the registered owner of five cars and there are five household members, so the number of tickets is reflective of the fact there are five drivers," he said.
Motorists’ advocate Todd Dube of Wise Up Winnipeg said he agrees the province’s top court needs to settle the issue. Just because 18 months might not be an unreasonable timeline for a criminal trial doesn’t mean that’s how long it should take to contest a traffic ticket, he said.
"It’s the unfairness, unique to Winnipeg in terms of the deficient engineering that they’re enforcing, that has caused people to be angry enough that they’re actually going to spend five times more money arguing their points rather than simply pay (the ticket)," Dube said.
Traffic court backlogs more than a year long show Winnipeggers are willing to fight tickets, he said.
"The Manitoba judicial system has been compromised by the tremendous increase in violations that we’ve seen over the last 10 years, and the entire system is stacked against the people receiving them," he said. "They’re giving out so many unfair tickets that an unprecedented number of people are pleading not guilty."