, 07.06.2019 08:40 AM

Yell at the spouse, lose the house (updated)

That’s a headline that ran in the Sun, nearly a generation ago. It changed political history.

Remember Lyn McLeod? I do. McLeod was the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party in the mid-1990s. In the months leading up to the 1995 election, McLeod had a massive lead in every opinion poll. NDP Premier Bob Rae’s government was despised; P.C. leader Mike Harris was mostly unknown.

One fateful day, McLeod talked to a reporter on proposed legislation that would change the definition of domestic violence – and the penalties for it.

One penalty for abusing one’s spouse, she said, should be the abuser’s eviction from the family home. Hard to argue with that, perhaps.

But then the reporter asked McLeod if  domestic violence included “verbal abuse.” It did, she said. Yes.

The next day, the headline in the Toronto Sun was this: “Shout at spouse, lose your house.”

Almost immediately, the Ontario Liberals started to slide in the polls. Mike Harris would go on to win a big majority. And a close friend, and a senior advisor to McLeod, later told me: “Yell at the spouse, lose the house,” he said. “That’s why we lost.”

Which brings us to this, the former Bill C-46:

The law that destroyed the Ontario Liberals was a proposed law. This one now is law.

Lawyers like me have been warning, for months, that this change is wildly unconstitutional. It’s legislative overreach. And it’s a political suicide note, too.

But it’s the law of the land. It gives police the power to demand you submit to a breathalyzer, even they don’t have a reasonable suspicion you’re impaired. Even if you aren’t behind the wheel.

When this change was being considered, legal experts warned that a Canadian who drives home, sober, and then consumes some alcohol could register a fail on the breathalyzer – even though they didn’t drive while drunk. And that’s in fact what happened to a B.C. woman: she was by the pool at her sister’s place, having a drink, when the RCMP arrived and demanded a breath sample.

She lost her licence and her vehicle. Ultimately, she defeated the impairment charge on a technicality – but not before spending thousands on legal fees.

The media are already calling this a “police state” law. That it’s “an inexcusable violation of an individual’s Charter rights, and an invitation to police harassment of visible minorities“. Hell, even the CBC is calling it “unnecessary police power.”

Make no mistake: this issue – coming in the Summer before an election – is potentially lethal for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, I am told, are now preparing to do to Trudeau what Mike Harris and a Toronto Sun headline did to Lyn McLeod.

Have a drink, wind up in the clink”: may not be as deadly as that long-ago Sun headline. But it may do the trick.

UPDATE: Oh, look. Shortly after the above post went up, something interesting happened. I’d say they are nervous, wouldn’t you?


  1. zing says:

    I heard about that woman, who claims she wasn’t driving, but in the backyard of her sister’s, and the police, with unlimited resources apparently, showed up at her sister’s door to demand a breath sample. And I don’t believe her.

  2. Matt says:

    This was a law ushered in by the former AG, JRW.

  3. JustSomeAnon says:

    “I am tremendously proud to have introduced this legislation and see it passed into law. I believe these reforms will result in fewer road deaths and fewer Canadian families devastated by the effects of an impaired driver. This is one of the most significant changes to the laws related to impaired driving in more than 40 years and is another way that we are modernizing the criminal justice system.”

    The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., M.P. Q.C.
    Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada


  4. Gyor says:

    She was an awful AG/Justice minister, A-side from standing up to Trudeau on corruption. This is just one of many examples.

    • Fred from BC says:

      I’ve always expressed the same opinion (the Colton Boushie affair was just one of the more public ones). Her judgement was often questionable, to me.

      That said, however, I believe that *she* believes she made the right choices under the circumstances. Her motivations, like her character, have never been in doubt for one second.

    • Dan says:

      Would she have stood up Trudeau on corruption if she had not been demoted? Self serving in my opinion.

  5. Michael rae says:

    Nanny statism run by extremists who ‘know best’!
    What ‘angels’ would you trust to run your life from cradle to grave, next will be monitoring social media use, oh wait, we are already seeing government censorship if free speech. Wrong think will he next.

  6. Doug says:

    I could understand the limits on police collecting samples falling under federal legislation, but isn’t DUI provincial? Otherwise, how were BC and AB able to effectively decriminalize DUI?


    • Nasty Bob says:

      The provinces haven’t decriminalized Impaired driving.

      It’s still a criminal offence and falls under federal jurisdiction. They have no power to suspend your license until the crown proves -beyond a reasonable doubt – you’re guilty of driving impaired ( or over .80).

      However the provinces have jurisdiction over roads and drivers licenses. They have introduced “administrative suspensions” where they can suspend your DL for 90 days ( and longer if you don’t install a blow box in your ignition) and impound your car for a spell. The suspension is immediate and there is no need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt . You can appeal to an administrative body but the onus is on you.

      The provinces are not punishing you for criminal behaviour but rather for, essentially, violating the terms of you license by being unsafe on the road.

      • Dawn Mills says:

        In other words, if they can’t get you through the front door, they will get you through the back door.

        You will be assimilated. (but into a multicultural assimilnationalness as this is Canada.)

    • Fred from BC says:

      “yeah, but it deals with this bullshit:”

      Not really, given the two hour time limit (you just need to hide for a couple of hours now). And the cost is still too high; if you can justify this, why can’t you justify random searches of motor vehicles? Or cell phones? Or residences? I mean, you’re not guilty of anything, right? You’ve got NOTHING TO HIDE, do you?

      Horrendous law, soon to be gone. As a wise man once said, people who would give up their basic liberty for the illusion of security deserve neither. If you seriously think this is a good idea, perhaps you would feel more secure living in a nice police state somewhere…

    • JustSomeAnon says:

      Yeah, shit like that shouldn’t happen. Just give the police the authority to demand a sobriety test from anyone, anywhere, anytime. A quick patdown for weapons would be a good idea too.

  7. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    My guess is that if you were functionally mobile and headed in the direction of a vehicle, with keys in hand, it would be constitutional. Otherwise, not so much.

  8. Gord Tulk says:

    This is a tipping point IMO.

    For years judicial activism and virtue signalling have pushed those who believe in liberty into a corner.

    The pushback has begun. I think progressives who think that it is faint resistance have misjudged how these kinds of intrusions affect even those who have been their (passive) supporters.

    But Darkness at Noon got published and the Soviet is extinct. The truth and liberty will ultimately win the day.

    • Fred from BC says:

      “This is a tipping point IMO. ”

      I sure hope so. This law was horrifying to me (and I don’t drink).
      Right from the start, it was only a matter of time until it was overturned (like a certain child-pornography law that was also doomed right from the start). Don’t use the power of government to pass useless, virtue-signalling legislation that won’t pass the first serious legal challenge…take your time, get it right and pass something that is effective, fair and above all *not* a violation of our constitutional rights.

      (oh, and great column, WK. ..)

  9. Nasty Bob says:

    Seeing that Sun cover I’m reminded the Justin Trudeau has actually stolen 2 things from Mike Harris now

    1- over-promise, under deliver
    2- keep those sleeves rolled up

  10. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    EKOS has Bernier at 6%!

  11. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    CPC: 33

    LPC: 32

    NDP: 16

    GP: 11

    BQ: 4

    PPC: 3

  12. duojet says:

    Here’s the Justice Department Link


    The law seems pretty reasonable to me.

    • JustSomeAnon says:

      It also seems pretty reasonable to just assume you work in law enforcement. Unless you care to prove otherwise, of course.

    • Fred from BC says:

      Oh, sure…I host a party at my home and I’m not allowed to drink for two hours after I get home with all the food and stuff because the government doesn’t trust me not to drink and drive. Because hey, WE’RE ALL CHILDREN to the ‘progressives’ of the Liberal Party, right? We need to be monitored 24/7, and everything we think, do and say needs to be closely scrutinized as well for fear that an unapproved opinion or action might slip by our government nannies (who, let’s face it, are obviously superior to us Great Unwashed in every possible way, right?).

      (…and yet, oddly, I *am* allowed to own and operate a motor vehicle and I *am* allowed to buy and consume alcohol. Hmmm….)

      • duojet says:

        Educate yourself – read the link.

        Specifically: “No. Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) can only be used if the driver is operating a vehicle, the vehicle has been lawfully stopped, and if the police officer has the approved screening device at hand. It does not apply when drivers have returned home or arrived at their destination.”

    • duojet says:

      The 2 hour rule is intended to close some sketchy loop holes in the drunk driving laws.

      If you can’t be bothered to read the link I provided, here are some relevant passages:

      Can a police officer use mandatory alcohol screening to demand a breath sample from a person in a bar, restaurant or their home after they have driven?

      No. Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) can only be used if the driver is operating a vehicle, the vehicle has been lawfully stopped, and if the police officer has the approved screening device at hand. It does not apply when drivers have returned home or arrived at their destination.
      Why is it now an offence to have a BAC of at or over 80 mg within two hours of driving?

      The law has been changed so a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) cannot be at or over 80 mg within two-hours after driving. This aims to discourage risky and dangerous behavior that poses a risk on our roads. The new law has eliminated the “bolus drinking” defence and has limited the “intervening drinking” defence.

      For example, on a “bolus drinking” defence, a driver would admit that their BAC was over 80 mg at the time of testing. However, they could then claim to have consumed a significant amount of alcohol just before or while driving arguing that the alcohol was still being absorbed and, at the time of driving, their BAC was not over 80.

      The “intervening drink” defence is used when a driver claims to have consumed alcohol after operating the vehicle but before testing. Where this defence was most frequently used was after an accident where the driver claimed they drank to ‘calm their nerves’ post-incident. This defence made it difficult for law enforcement to determine actual BAC at the time of driving.

      The conduct of bolus drinking and post-driving drinking has also been the subject of negative judicial commentary, including by the Supreme Court of Canada. In addition, this new offence structure has long-been used in more than a dozen US states, including Alaska, Washington, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Utah and has, for the most part, withstood constitutional scrutiny.

      • JustSomeAnon says:

        That’s all very special, duojet. Thank-You for sharing!

        Meanwhile police officers across Canada are using the new legislation to investigate anyone, anywhere, anytime they feel like it. I suspect the prospects of padding one’s salary due to a lengthy court battle must be very enticing.

        Now would you please tell me who is paying you to advocate for this revocation of fundamental liberties by the Trudeau government?

      • Fred from BC says:

        “Educate yourself – read the link. ”

        I did. Here is the relevant passage”


        The law has been changed so a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) cannot be at or over 80 mg within two-hours after driving. This aims to discourage risky and dangerous behavior that poses a risk on our roads. The new law has eliminated the “bolus drinking” defence and has limited the “intervening drinking” defence.”


        In other words, it is EXACTLY the kind of police-state travesty of justice that I said it was. There is absolutely nothing “reasonable” about this….it’s horrifying.

        (and don’t quit your day job just yet, Duojet…I don’t know who is paying you, but as a spin doctor, you’re awful…)

  13. duojet says:

    Try again: No. Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) can only be used if
    – the driver is operating a vehicle,
    – the vehicle has been lawfully stopped,
    – and if the police officer has the approved screening device at hand.

    It does not apply when drivers have returned home

    ie if you’re stopped at a check stop, the 2 hour rule applies. If you have 0.079 % at the check stop, you’re not home free.

    This law doesn’t give police the right to arbitrarily raid your house & give you a breathalyser. (Not to say they won’t try)

    But you have already knew that, because you read and
    understood the link I provided, right?

  14. duojet says:

    Guys, this isn’t complicated & don’t take it / make it personal.

    My understanding is this law closes 2 loop holes:

    1) if someone downs 6 shots of vodka & jumps in a car, get stopped at a checkstop they can’t claim their blood alcohol was < 0.08 when they were stopped, even though it's 0.14 when the breathalyzer reading was taken.

    2) If some get's stopped at a check stop, and attempts to obstruct the process by consuming alcohol after they were stopped to invalidate the breathalyzer reading – those days are over.

    Am I missing something?

    Facts only please

    • JustSomeAnon says:

      It’s not just that you’re missing something, duojet, but by how far and how willfully you’re missing it.

      Nonetheless, you are providing a spectacular demonstration of how one does not need to be a white supremacist in order to support fascist ideologies.

      Good luck with your agenda!

  15. JustSomeAnon says:

    FACT: Police officers across Canada are using the new legislation to detain and investigate anyone, anywhere, anytime they feel like it.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      That should be a surprise to almost no one. Even at Timmy’s?

      • JSA says:

        Not sure how many people are actually aware of what the new laws are, Ron. I’ve told a few people about the new laws over the last few months, and I don’t think any of them really believed me. More like they all thought I was crazy…

        Picked up a bottle of Scotch, to give as a gift, last year and was followed by a cop for about two miles. When he finally pulled me over, the only reason he offered for stopping me was “targeting”.

        Would much rather they make ignition interlocks mandatory than have to deal with being “targeted” by police.

        • Fred from BC says:

          Yeah, that’s even worse than the two hour idiocy. The police have been given the power to stop ANYONE at ANY TIME for no reason. This will continue until the first black man/woman with the financial means to hire a lawyer is pulled over for “driving while black” (as they call it down south). And to anyone who considers this a ‘minor inconvenience’, think again: you will be removed from your vehicle and placed into the back of a police vehicle for this test, apparently. Your license and insurance will naturally be checked as well, so the whole process is unlikely to take less than ten minutes even if everything goes well. That’s not a ‘minor inconvenience’.

          Looking forward to both these two aspects of the new law being shot down in court.

          • SJA says:

            Pretty sure you’ll also have to put your hands on the hood and spread ’em for a mandatory roadside body search before they lock you in the back.

            Might just as well consider your phone and vehicle fair game too.

          • Fred,

            And the splendid irony? This will be about the only time that a lot of conservatives and libertarians will wholeheartedly embrace the theory of judicial activism. Puts a broad smile on my face! However, bet we won’t hear a peep out of Harper. Prove me wrong, Stephen.

          • duojet says:

            According to this page:


            “Police have long had the power to stop drivers …”

            In Ontario, the police can / will set up check stops – doesn’t happen often – and yeah it’s 10 minutes, but if you know you’re under the limit it’s OK.

            The difference is the new law allows the police to hold you for 2 hours – that’s an inconvenience!!

            I can envision situations where nasty cops decides to “teach someone a lesson” . That would be frustrating.

          • JSA says:

            Police have had the authority to hold you for a toxicology test for at least,two hours for as long as I can remember. That’s nothing new either, duojet.


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