(Can a Mayor Fix a Fine?)
(Original posting : 11 May 2010 )
Under what power or law can a Mayor make a fine/invoice issued as a by-law infringement disappear? Listen to the recording of a voice left on an answering machine. This is a message by a City Councillor left on the answering machine of an individual who asked for help. The councillor approached the Mayor and the Mayor decided to do as he wished with the law. As citizens of this country we are proud of our way of life, of our equality and quality of life. We have sent brave Canadians to foreign lands because we believe that our Canadian ideal of justice and equality is worth emulating. Our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers stand bravely shoulder to shoulder in our Canadian uniforms and sadly some have paid the ultimate price with their lives. Equality is the cornerstone of democracy. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees equality for all Canadians before and under the law. The Charter does not see small or big laws, but all laws.
The individual had gone to Cuba for a couple of weeks. When he left the grass was green. While he was away it snowed. He wasn’t there to shovel the snow. City employees did shovel his snow. A fine/invoice was sent to him under BY-LAW 2008-315. On his return the individual called the St. Catharines Public Works Department and tried to explain. He told City employees that he was away in Cuba and was not able to clean his sidewalk. He said that his partner is handicapped and unable to clean the snow. The City employees told him that as he knew that he was going to Cuba he should have arranged for a neighbour or someone to shovel his sidewalk and the by-law fine stood. Then the individual called his City Councillor for help in the issue. The result is this message from the Councillor on the answering machine.
Premier Dalton McGuinty was provided with all the details. He replied that it was Minister Bradley’s responsibility as Minister for Municipal Affairs. Minister Bradley’s reply to me is a contradiction to the Premier’s instructions. The essence of all law in Canada is equality in its application. What of those who paid their fines? What of the Charter of Rights? No one in elected public office has the legal right to make a fine disappear or be “taken care of.” There is a proper and legal way to object to an unjust fine and it had already been tried. It is your voice as the people of St. Catharines, of Canada that counts now.