"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Saturday 4 April 2020


Having personal support workers visit twice a day provides a whole new insight into other people’s lives and  experience. A number of ladies come to call. Patterns emerge. It’s not an easy job. Not least of the negatives is driving between appointments. And not least of that are various encounters with York Regional Police. Hardly a week goes by that one of the ladies doesn’t get, a ticket for one or other traffic offence. Penalties are in hundreds of dollars but worse still are demerit points on driving records.

Most PSWs are immigrants. I suspect availability of this type of employment is reason for easy admission. An example of a ticket issued with a fine of $600, and 4 demerit points was for having a cell phone on the knee while driving. She had been in the country 7 months. Didn’t have GPS but was using the cell phone to find her way in Richmond Hill. 

Her language skills are good but not so good for complete confidence. Still, my advice was to request a hearing, attend court. Plead guilty with an explanation.

She was not talking on the cell phone. She was not distracted. She was focussed on making the right turn. The officer neither asked nor was apparently interested in an explanation.

She has since received another ticket because she failed to notice a new configuration of lights at an intersection on Yonge Street and made an illegal left turn. Another hefty fine and demerit points. 

Parking tickets are issued by bylaw officers. Town plows fill driveways with massive chunks of ice and frozen snow, blocking entry and exit. Time scheduled for visit with a client is one hour.

Speeding tickets appear to be issued willy nilly and PSWs seem to get more than their share. They do receive a car allowance but they are not paid for driving time. My advice is always the same. Ask for a hearing and throw yourself on the mercy of the court.

 I have represented myself in traffic court, I know a few things and learned a few things.

My time was not wasted.

For the purpose of this discussion, current circumstances in York Region traffic court are particularly relevant. One of my ladies took my advice and reported back. The court room was crowded. Two crown attorneys were on hand for prosecution. Her name was not on the appended list. She approached a Crown to ensure the right location and a deal was proferred. Plead guilty, pay $60, and demerit points will be removed. 

The ticket was for speeding. The fine was $280 with four demerit points. 

She took the deal. The judge was so informed and she asked why the miscreant was speeding. The  schedule was explained. What’s your job? She was asked, and answered. The judge would have made the fine $45, without demerits points and furthermore, insisted on providing a couple of months to pay.

In the meantime, two crown attorneys spent the first couple of hours of that day and likely every day, undoing that which was wrought by York Police on the streets of the Region. Officers attended as witnesses, and being paid in generous terms at municipal expense. The court room was full of those who felt the need to defend themselves; like the catch of the day. 

No doubt, the scene repeats five days a week in every traffic court in Ontario. The cost, public and private cannot begin to be imagined. 

York Region’s Police is an army, thousands strong. Their motto is “TO SERVE AND PROTECT”. Banks are robbed, assaults happen and murders committed. But not to worry my friends, they’re out there in force, issuing tickets with fines and penalties that challenged in court, do not stand up to reality of time and place. 

Now tickets are to be issued with penalties of up to $5,000 for hanging about in the open. New recruitment, new uniforms, new cars, new armaments, will all be required. To be deployed to the extent of a day in court, when all will be pled down to a reasonable penalty in the mind of a judge which may but will likely  not accomplish anything useful.

Government is indeed a blunt and bruising implement careless of a target.


Anonymous said...

We certainly do have a legal system in this country. Justice is long gone, if it ever existed.
I'm 54yrs old, and I've never seen it. Our legal system is like any other industry, just follow the money.

Anonymous said...

Hi Evelyn
Not sure if this request is appropriate to ask, but you used to write these beautiful stories of when you were a little girl. I would love to read more of them, that is, if you would like to write about them again.