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No exemption for accused Inuit hunters ;s of impaired driving

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A convoy of snowmobiles pulling sleds near Arctic Bay, Nunavut, April 18, 2022.


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A Nunavut Court of Justice judge has ruled that banning people accused of impaired driving from operating vehicles, including snowmobiles, in the territory does not contravene the rights and freedoms of Inuit. This decision rejects the arguments of Inuit hunters according to which this ban, which prevented them from moving on the territory for subsistence purposes, is unconstitutional.

In Canada, people convicted of impaired driving face a mandatory minimum driving ban of one year. The latter increases to two years after a second offense, then to three years after the third offense.

The case concerns four Inuit hunters accused of drives a vehicle in their community while impaired.

In September, their lawyers argued in court that the ban on driving following this type of offense contravened both the rights of indigenous peoples established in the Constitution and sections 7, 12 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Lawyers wanted Inuit hunters to be exempt from the ban when they operate vehicles to hunt traditional food outside their community boundaries.

In Nunavut, hunters are accustomed to traveling long distances by snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle and boat to fish and hunt, particularly seal or walrus.

In a decision rendered Friday, Judge Paul Bychok rejects the hunters' arguments. According to him, they were not able to prove that it was essential to drive a vehicle to hunt on the territory.

He did not There has been no evidence that the physical act of driving during a hunting trip is fundamental, […] even though it may be desirable, the judge said in his decision.

Judge Paul Bychok says Inuit hunters convicted of impaired driving can continue to hunt, but will depend on other drivers to get around the tundra.

There is no doubt that they will be inconvenienced during the driving ban period, since they will have to rely on other drivers in their chase group, he explains.< /p>Open in full screen mode

On Friday, Judge Paul Bychok rejected the hunters' arguments.

By agreeing with the arguments of the defense lawyers, the Crown admitted that prohibiting hunters from traveling on the territory in order to hunt violated their constitutional rights.

When the Crown thus admits that it is a violation of a right, the judge can order Parliament to modify its laws in a period of one year.

Judge Paul Bychok, however, rejected the hunters' request.

With information from Emma Tranter

By admin

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