Warrant Thrown Out Due to Police Misinforming Justice of the Peace

Update:

Constable Aamer Merchant (on right) is training for the Canadian Police Boxing Team. Peel Police Constable Aamer Merchant "lied" to obtain a search warrant, a judge ruled.
Constable Aamer Merchant (on right) is training for the Canadian Police Boxing Team. Peel Police Constable Aamer Merchant “lied” to obtain a search warrant, a judge ruled.

Despite a policy that Crowns should report dishonest testimony, it’s unclear whether police who lie on the stand are being held accountable.

see source

Using uncommonly frank language, a Superior Court judge said a Peel police officer “misled” a justice of the peace in order to obtain a search warrant for a marijuana grow-op, then “lied” about his investigation on the stand afterward.

“I cannot accept Officer (Aamer) Merchant’s evidence,” Justice Gordon Lemon wrote in a ruling on April 9, 2015. “He misled the justice of the peace … Officer Merchant lied to the court.”

The Star has been chronicling judges’ rulings that have found police officers lied on the stand ever since the 2012 award-winning investigation, “Police Who Lie.”

In response to the investigation, then attorney general John Gerretsen established a policy requiring Crown attorneys to report such decisions to their hierarchy, which can then refer the matter to the relevant police force. After its own investigation, the police force may press Police Services Act charges against deceitful officers, which carry a maximum penalty of dismissal.

The process may be long, but it nevertheless represents a functional mechanism for holding police officers to account for their conduct in trials.

However, the Ministry of the Attorney General will not confirm whether it has conducted a review of a particular ruling, nor whether it has referred the decision to a police force, according to spokesperson Brendan Crawley. That makes it difficult for the public to determine whether a specific officer is being investigated.

The only way to be sure an officer is being held to account is if the force decides to file charges and hold a public hearing — a process that can take months, if not years.

Merchant relayed a message to the Star on Thursday declining to comment for this story. The Public Prosecution Service of Canada, which prosecutes drug cases, couldn’t confirm whether the case had been referred to the Peel Police or whether they employ a referral policy similar to provincial Crowns.

Peel Regional Police were not aware of the judge’s ruling until they were contacted by the Star, Staff Sgt. Dan Richardson wrote in an email.

“Since learning of this decision, Chief (Jennifer) Evans has directed that a review be conducted surrounding these circumstances,” he wrote.

The Peel Regional Police Association did not respond to a request for comment.

Merchant is a drugs-and-gangs officer with 12 years of experience on the force.

In front of Justice Lemon, Merchant testified that he had applied for a warrant about 30 times in his career, which involved preparing a document called an “Information to Obtain” — or ITO — to present to a justice of the peace.

In January 2011, after receiving a tip from a confidential informant, Merchant drew up an ITO to request a search warrant. The warrant was granted and police raided a house in Markham the same day, finding “a quantity” of marijuana plants in the basement, Justice Lemon wrote in his ruling.

Because a tip from an informer isn’t sufficient to grant a search warrant, Merchant was required to gather additional evidence for his ITO.

“Officer Merchant set out in the ITO that he ‘was conducting surveillance’ at the two residences in question. What he did not say was that he simply drove by those two residences,” wrote the judge. “(Merchant) agreed that the word ‘surveillance’ was a ‘strong word’ and not full, frank and fair.”

Merchant also wrote in his ITO that the suspect “has a criminal record for violence, offence weapons, break and enter, drugs, other Criminal Code and other Federal Statutes,” according to the ruling.

During the preliminary inquiry, the judge heard that the document from which Merchant had obtained this criminal information had the words “Caution: this is not a criminal record” and “No convictions” written on the front page.

Merchant told the court that he did not notice these disclaimers until the pre-trial.

“The (criminal) record was a sham,” wrote Lemon. “As I listened to Officer Merchant give his evidence … I found that I simply did not believe what he had to say.”

“The conduct of Officer Merchant is so subversive that (it) requires that the warrant be quashed.”

The marijuana case is still ongoing.

Members of the legal profession who have come across less-than-truthful testimony from officers say the policy for referral is far from transparent. Lawyer Enzo Rondinelli says Crowns assure him the policy is in place, but won’t confirm that it’s been used in a particular case.

“‘Don’t worry, you can trust us’ policies are understandably met with skepticism,” he said.

“A more formal mechanism must be put in place by the Legislature to ensure that a process is fair to the police in meeting such allegations, but also (should) include a reporting requirement detailing the number of complaints and their ultimate outcome. It is the only way you can get full accountability in this area.”

Ontario: 2015 Budget Reduces Auto Insurance for Drivers

Update:see previous posts – April 10, 2015 Auto-Insurance Companies Overcharge Ontario Driver’s $3 Billion Dollars, April 16, 2014 Ontario: Highest Auto Insurance Premiums in Canada.

The government says when a driver gets involved in certain types of minor, at-fault accidents, insurers will no longer be able to automatically increase their premium.
The Liberal Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced changes in his Ontario 2015 Provincial budget. One of the changes he announced is when a driver gets involved in certain types of minor, at-fault accidents, insurers will no longer be able to automatically increase their auto-insurance premiums.

see source

The Ontario Liberals led by Premier Kathleen Wynne, handed down their 2015 Ontario budget today.

The ruling Liberal party (through Finance Minister Charles Sousa) announced, amongst other things, that driver’s in Ontario would benefit from the 2015 budget, through reduced auto-insurance premiums by vairious measures.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa promised drivers in Ontario, in the 2013 Liberal budget, that their insurance premiums in 2013 would be reduced by 15% on average by August 2015 – but have only managed to reduce those insurance premiums by half to date.

In the 2015 budget today, Sousa made the following announcements, which were extremely short on facts, figures and timelines:

  • The Provincial government will force insurance companies providing auto-insurance to provide Ontario drivers who place snow tires on their vehicles with an insurance discount.
    • The government says when a driver gets involved in certain types of minor, at-fault accidents, insurers will no longer be able to automatically increase their premium. But the government has yet to lay out the criteria for such accidents. It will consult with the industry before doing so.
    • The government will also limit the maximum interest rate that some drivers pay on monthly auto insurance premium payments to 1.3 per cent, down from three per cent today.
    • The government will establish a $300 standard deductible for comprehensive coverage, as opposed to $500 — a level where it has otherwise stood for some time in Ontario.
    • There are also coming changes to basic auto insurance benefits. The government will combine medical and rehabilitation benefits with attendant care services as a single benefit set at $65,000. These separate benefits used to total more than $80,000. However, drivers will still be able to pay for increased coverage to a total of $1 million. A similar change will be made in the case of catastrophic accidents. Services will be combined as a single benefit to a limit of $1 million. That’s down from a combined $2-million limit today. But drivers will be able to pay more for coverage up to $2 million.

    Unfortunately Sousa was short on details that outlined the level of savings that drivers would receive or when any of these savings would be realized or when the changes would be implemented.

    Ontario drivers continue to pay the highest auto-insurance premiums of any Province/Territory in Canada.
    Ontario drivers continue to pay the highest auto-insurance premiums of any Province/Territory in Canada.

    We already know that Sousa’s 2013 budget promise of a 15% auto-insurance premium for Ontario driver’s by August 2015 has only been half fulfilled. Maybe by 2017, the whole 15% will have been reached.

    It is reasonable, based on the past performance by this government, to expect a very slow implementation of Sousa’s budget announcements today. Sousa could not say with any certainty, how much driver’s would save on any of his announcements or when those particular changes would be implemented. He kept mentioning that he would have to consult with Insurance industry to work out the details.

    Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario NDP, said that Ontario has “the lowest rate of accidents in the country,” but pays the highest insurance rates.

    As for any benefits stemming from changes the Liberals have made, Horwath said they have gone to insurance companies.

    “It never trickles down to the drivers,” she said.

    It should be noted that after Ontario’s previous Premier Dalton McGuinty resigned and before Kathleen Wynne was elected, as the leader of the Provincial Liberal Party, an election took place within the Liberal party for a leader.

    In that election, the Insurance Bureau of Canada contributed $60,000.00 to the leadership frontrunners. The Insurance Bureau of Canada made the following financial contributions to the following individuals:

    1. $25,000 to Kathleen Wynne (who happened to be elected on Jan.26/13, on the third ballot, as Ontario’s next Premier)

    2. $25,000 to Sandra Pupatello (who had to wait to the third ballot to learn that her rival Wynne had secured victory)

    3. $10,000 to Dr. Eric Hoskins

    4. $500 to Charles Sousa

    Toronto: City Contemplates Future of the Gardiner Expressway

    Update:

    Motorists can expect years of frustrating gridlock, when construction begins on the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway.
    Motorists can expect years of frustrating gridlock, when construction begins on the eastern portion (the length of the expressway in question is a 1.7 km stretch east of Jarvis Street to the Don Valley Parkway) of the Gardiner Expressway. This stretch of highway accommodates about 5,000 cars and 500 trucks every hour during the morning rush. The City is suggesting that construction could begin in 2018 and that is would take six (6) years to complete the project. If the City says it will take six (6) years, that more than likely means nine (9) long and costly years in real time.

     

    see source

    City staff have completed their environmental assessment of viable options for the eastern stretch of the aging Gardiner Expressway and Toronto now faces a decision that will impact generations well into the future.

    The city will collect feedback from residents during two public meetings and a final report will be presented to council — with a recommendation from staff about they feel is the best option — on June 21.

    If the preferred proposal gets Ministry of Environment approval, construction could begin in 2018.

    The question of what to do with the eastern portion of highway has stirred divisive debate in council since 2009. A 2013 staff report recommended tearing it down and building an eight-lane boulevard in its place, but then developers First Gulf came forward and proposed what is known as the “hybrid option.”

    Here’s a look at what you need to know about the options on the table, and what they would mean for the city. All of the information below is based on documents provided by the city and details outlined during a technical briefing by staff on April 15.
    Important background

    The length of the expressway in question is a 1.7 km stretch east of Jarvis Street to the Don Valley Parkway that handles about three per cent of peak hour vehicle trips to the downtown core. Similarly, it accommodates about 5,000 cars and 500 trucks every hour during the morning rush.

    The environmental assessment (which has cost about $7.5 million since 2009) looked at a slightly larger area: about 2.4 km of the expressway and the surrounding area, representing about 18 per cent of the total length of the Gardiner. Nearly 3,500 different stakeholders have been consulted.

    City staff used traffic projections for 2031 in their analysis and assumed that a number of other transit alternatives will be constructed in that time, particularly the waterfront LRT extension, the downtown relief line and improvements to GO Transit services. SmartTrack was not included in the model.

    Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong has come out in favour of the hybrid option, saying that tearing down the stretch of expressway completely and replacing it with a boulevard would eliminate the only way to quickly bypass the downtown.

    City staff have yet to publicly reveal their preferred option, saying it will depend on feedback during public consultations.

    Cost estimates for each option are based on a 100-year lifecycle projection, which is about the timeframe any new infrastructure is expected to last before it needs upgrading or replacing.

    Hybrid option

    Maintains elevated stretch of the Gardiner Expressway west of the Don Valley Parkway.

    The elevated deck would need to be replaced.

    Existing on and off ramps east of the Don River that extend to Logan Avenue would be demolished.

    East of the Don River, Lake Shore Boulevard East would be reconstructed into a six-lane, tree-lined boulevard.

    Drivers would be able to get on or off the Gardiner on new ramps built between the Don River and Cherry Street.

    Construction would take about six years total; up to a year and a half of road detours would be required.

    Ninety per cent of commuter trip times would remain more or less unchanged but some trips from the east will take an estimated three to five minutes longer than if the Gardiner remained unchanged.
    Cost: About $414 million up front in capital costs and $505 million for operations and maintenance over the anticipated 100-year lifecycle.​

    The hybrid option, according to city staff, has fewer traffic impacts during the construction phase but costs more than the tearing down the expressway altogether. It also allows for extensive development of approximately 29 acres of land owned by First Gulf and about 20 acres of publicly owned land near the old Unilever factory site. The development of that land is also required to partially fund Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan and would ultimately house a major SmartTrack hub. Staff says there is also significant opportunity for new employment and public space on the land.

    Property of Ontario Motor Vehicle Tickets

    Removal option

    Entirety of the elevated expressway east of Jarvis Street would be torn down and replaced with an eight-lane, ground-level boulevard.
    Eight lanes reduced to six east of the Don Valley Parkway
    Considerable new public spaces would be freed up.

    New on and off ramps would connect the boulevard to the Don Valley Parkway, preventing the need for traffic to go through a stop light to move from one road to the other.

    New on and off ramps would be built west of Jarvis Street to provide a connection the western portion of the Gardiner Expressway from Lake Shore Boulevard.

    Construction would take an estimated six years; up to four years of detours would be required.

    Seventy-five per cent of commute trip times would be more or less unchanged, while some would see a three-to-five minute increase in travel time.

    City staff estimates up to 85 per cent of the north and south sides of the boulevard could be developed for commercial and residential purposes.

    Cost: $326-million up front in capital costs and $135-million for operations and maintenance costs over the anticipated 100-year lifecycle.

    Like the hybrid option, the removal option allows for the development of the former Unilever factory site. It does, however, according to city staff, open the door for more pedestrian-friendly projects. The removal option was also staff’s preferred route before First Gulf came forward with their proposal.

    Motorists can expect a decade of gridlock if the City of Toronto decides to do anything to the Gardiner Epxressway other than status quo.
    Motorists can expect a decade of gridlock if the City of Toronto decides to do anything to the Gardiner Expressway other than status quo.

    Maintaining the Gardiner

    There is a third possible option: Toronto could simply maintain the Gardiner as it is. This option would generate the least of amount of traffic disturbance, but still cost more than tearing it down. It would require about $342 million immediately and another $522 million over the next 100 years. This option has little support among councillors, restricts the development of the Unilever site and does little to improve Toronto’s waterfront. While it was included as a base case scenario in staff’s analysis, there is little chance it will be seriously considered by the city.

    Auto-Insurance Companies Overcharge Ontario Drivers $3,000,000,000.00 According to Study. Ontario Drivers Pay More for Car Insurance than any other drivers in Canada.

    Update: see previous posts – February 19, 2011 Diminished Value to Motor Vehicles Post Accident, August 22, 2010 Auto Insurance Rules Change September 1, 2010 (Ontario).

    Ontario drivers are paying too much for their insurance, according to a Schulich School of Business study. It is reported that Ontario drivers paid about $840 million too much for auto-insurance in 2013 alone.
    Ontario drivers are paying too much for their insurance, according to a Schulich School of Business study. It is reported that Ontario drivers paid about $840 million too much for auto-insurance in 2013 alone.

    see source:

    Ontario drivers were overcharged $3 billion over a decade by highly profitable insurance firms while accident benefits were slashed, a personal injury lawyers’ group says.

    The insurance industry denies the allegation.

    The average family should have paid $100 to $120 less for auto insurance in 2013, a study for the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association shows.

    While the auto insurance industry, as a group, has reported very weak profits, individual companies have earned far more than the 11 per cent return on equity allowed by the Ontario government, the analysis by two York University professors found.

    Meanwhile, accidents benefits have been repeatedly cut by government, the lawyers’ association president Steve Rastin told a press conference in Toronto.

    “Families in the province are paying more and getting less,” Rastin said.

    The lawyers group wants the Ontario auditor general to investigate.

    The Ontario Liberals allowed Auto Insurance rules to change on September 1, 2010 which meant insurance companies had a licence to print money.  For motorists, this meant that that they would pay more for insurance and receive less benefits.
    The Ontario Liberals allowed Auto Insurance rules to change on September 1, 2010 which meant insurance companies had a licence to print money. For motorists, this meant that that they would pay more for insurance and receive less.The average family should have paid $100-$120 less for auto-insurance in 2013, the study by two Schulich professors says.

    The report by professors Fred Lazar and Eli Prisman says Ontario drivers paid about $840 million too much in 2013 alone.

    The Insurance Bureau of Canada defended itself saying it costs are continuing to rise, and blamed the lawyers in part, saying they had billed $500 million in contingency fees that year.

    The industry’s claims costs “are going up” said Ralph Palumbo, the IBC’s vice-president Ontario.

    Meanwhile, premiums are regulated by the government, he noted.

    ‎NDP consumer critic Jagmeet Singh said the Liberal government is letting consumers down.

    “The government has the ability to reduce the rates and time and time again they have not,” Singh said outside the press conference. “We have the most expensive auto insurance in Canada.”

    At Queen’s Park, Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid told a news conference that the government has pressured insurance companies to lower rates an average of six per cent since August 2013.

    “It’s an ongoing effort … we’re making good progress,” he added.

    “My hope is there may be something in that report that is helpful to us … in bringing down insurance rates.”

    It’s been almost two years since the NDP, applying pressure in return for support of the then-minority Liberal government’s budget, forced Premier Kathleen Wynne to promise to bring down rates by 15 per cent.

    When asked if he hears many people saying thanks to the government for lower auto insurance rates, Duguid replied; “I can’t say I’ve had a lot of constituents come to me and say that.”

    But he added there are likely fewer complaints than there might have been otherwise and noted auto insurance rates depend on the circumstances and driving records of individual motorists.

    Toronto Police begin to tow vehicles with Out-of-Province Licence Plates

    Update:

    According to Toronto Police, the city tickets around 150,000 vehicles with out-of-province plates every year, but only around 15% pay the fines. There are currently 7,700 vehicles with out-of-town plates that have accumulated three or more parking tickets and have made it onto the city’s list of habitual offenders.
    According to Toronto Police, the city tickets around 150,000 vehicles with out-of-province plates every year, but only around 15% pay the fines. There are currently 7,700 vehicles with out-of-town plates that have accumulated three or more parking tickets and have made it onto the city’s list of habitual offenders.

    see source

    A courier van with Alberta licence plates and the subject of 356 unpaid parking tickets was one of the vehicles towed Monday as part of Toronto’s new “zero-tolerance” crackdown on habitual out-of-province offenders.

    Toronto Police parking enforcement officers followed through with a promise made last month by Mayor John Tory to crack down on such offenders and began a towing blitz of illegally parked vehicles with out-of-province plates that are discovered to have a history of not paying fines for past parking infractions.

    As it stands, said Brian Moniz, of Toronto Police’s parking enforcement division, the city has no legal recourse when it comes to collecting parking fines from those who drive vehicles with out-of-province plates. The offending vehicle’s origin of registration must be obtained for a conviction to be reached and Ontario has no such information-sharing agreements with other provinces.

    Property of Ontario Motor Vehicle Tickets

    Toronto Police parking enforcement officers followed through with a promise made last month by Mayor John Tory to crack down on such offenders and began a towing blitz of illegally parked vehicles with out-of-province plates that are discovered to have a history of not paying fines for past parking infractions.
    Toronto Police parking enforcement officers followed through with a promise made last month by Mayor John Tory to crack down on such offenders and began a towing blitz of illegally parked vehicles with out-of-province plates that are discovered to have a history of not paying fines for past parking infractions. If you’re unlucky enough to receive a ticket for parking in a rush-hour route but lucky enough to return before your vehicle is towed, it will only cost you a $150.00 parking ticket, that you can pay later. If you return after your vehicle is towed, you’ll have to travel (probably an expensive taxi ride) to the tow truck towing yard and pay a $200 ticket and $80 storage fee, before the tow truck company will release your vehicle..

    However, the new blitz means “zero tolerance” for those found to be habitual offenders, according to Moniz.

    “These vehicles contribute to congestion and gridlock, and this is the only we’re going to get compliance,” said Moniz. “This is the new way (we’re) doing business.”

    Moniz added around 30 habitual offenders with out-of-province plates had their vehicles towed as of 3 p.m. Monday.

    He said getting those vehicles back will come at a hefty price: $200 for the tow and around $80 for every day the vehicle spends in a towing yard.

    According to Toronto Police, the city tickets around 150,000 vehicles with out-of-province plates every year, but only around 15% pay the fines. There are currently 7,700 vehicles with out-of-town plates that have accumulated three or more parking tickets and have made it onto the city’s list of habitual offenders.

    If you go back to where you parked your vehicle and your vehicle isn't there, don't jump to any conclusions. Call the Toronto Police Service Radio Room at (416) 808-2222. Ask for Radio Room and have your vehicle information ready (where it was parked, the make/model and licence plate number). If your vehicle has been towed, police will inform you where the tow truck has brought your vehicle. You will have to drive to the impound lot and have your information to show the impound lot employees. You will have to pay approximately $200 for the tow and about $80.00 for the storage of your vehicle is towed to a  vehicles back will come at a hefty price: $200 for the tow and around $80 a day for the storage at the impound lot.  You will have to pay this up front, before your vehicle is released and this towing yards don't accept cheques.
    If you go back to where you parked your vehicle and your vehicle isn’t there, don’t jump to any conclusions. Call the Toronto Police Service at (416) 808-2222.
    Ask for the Radio Room and have your vehicle information ready (where it was parked, the make/model and licence plate number). If your vehicle has been towed, police will inform you where the tow truck has brought your vehicle. You will have to drive to the impound lot and have your information (registration, insurance, licence etc) to show the impound lot employees. You will have to pay approximately $200 for the tow and about $80.00 for the storage of your vehicle is towed to a vehicles back will come at a hefty price: $200 for the tow and around $80 a day for the storage at the impound lot. You will have to pay this up front, before your vehicle is released and this towing yards don’t accept cheques.