Driving bans don’t breach Inuit hunting rights, Nunavut judge rules

Court upholds Criminal Code’s mandatory 1-year driving prohibition for drunk driving

Nunavut Justice Paul Bychok ruled Thursday that driving bans for drunk driving offences don’t breach Inuit hunting rights. (File photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Nunatsiaq News

Mandatory driving prohibitions for drunk driving convictions do not breach Inuit hunting rights, a Nunavut judge ruled Thursday.

Justice Paul Bychok released a 16-page written decision in response to a charter challenge put forward by four Inuit men convicted of alcohol-related driving offences in Rankin Inlet. Bychok heard their arguments on Sept. 1.

In the Canadian Criminal Code, impaired driving convictions come with a mandatory driving prohibition of at least one year for the first offence. For second and third offences, that prohibition goes up to a minimum of two and three years, respectively.

Lawyers for the men argued that driving bans undermine sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that cover rights to liberty and security, protections from cruel and unusual punishments, and equality.

The men explained in statements how being barred from driving would challenge their ability to travel on the land on ATVs or snowmobiles so they can hunt and harvest.

Bychok noted none of the men explained how a driving prohibition would prevent them from hunting.

“[The hunters] will no doubt be inconvenienced during the period of the driving prohibition as they will have to rely on others in the hunting party to operate the motor vehicles,” the judge said in his decision.

“However, co-operation, flexibility, and ingenuity have always been hallmarks of the hunt.”

In his conclusion, Bychok dismissed the application, stating that a driving ban would mainly revoke the men’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle but not their right to hunt.


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(18) Comments:

  1. Posted by Nunavut’s Solution to DUI Driving Bans on

    Well, looks like it’s time to dust off the old dog sled! While the court says no to ATVs and snowmobiles for these hunters, they didn’t say anything about going old school.

  2. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    In the majority of communities you do not need a drivers license for ATV s and snowmobiles which are used for hunting, not trucks . It would just inconvenience hunters who have boats to put in the water. It is important to remove driving licence in towns with trucks, cars however for repeat offenders to keep everyone safe from intoxicated drivers.

    • Posted by Alan Klie on

      The driving prohibition in the Criminal Code applies to anything that’s a “conveyance”: a car, boat, truck, ATV, Skidoo, motorcycle, moped, Vespa, train, plane and so on. The ban applies even if you don’t need a licence to drive the vehicle you want. As long as the vehicle has a motor in it, the ban applies. It also applies whether you’re on a public road or not.

  3. Posted by mikhangry4tendies on

    great! glad to hear. drinking and driving on any motorized vehicle should always be punished . nor should you be out drinking and have a firearm …. common sense .

  4. Posted by Paul on

    Alcohol, beyond being a toxin to cells within your own body, creates so much far reaching harm to the whole of our families and communities.

    • Posted by H.G. Omger on

      And to the human brain, as we can see by this ludicrous case.

  5. Posted by The bastard children of the NA on

    Delusion and entitlement

  6. Posted by John K on

    Another good decision from Justice Bychok.

  7. Posted by Make Iqaluit Great Again on

    As you know from my comments in other articles, I’ve found many of judge Bychok’s decisions to be frankly terrible. Many of these decisions, in my view, are unbalanced, too extreme in language used and mean spirited, especially when he uses written decisions to unfairly go after lawyers and others involved in cases. That said, his decision today is very good and I applaud him for it!! His analysis and reasoning as reported here are fair and sensible. Also, it also looks like he resisted that temptation he has to get mean spirited by questioning the competency, good faith and the ethics of the lawyers involved. So good job judge Bychok and I mean that sincerely!! I hope this means you’ve turned over a new leaf in terms of your style and approach. We all certainly hope so….

    • Posted by Humm….. on

      To Make Iqaluit Great Again – frankly, I would be careful if I were you that your comments and ‘in your view’ might be considered slander of this particular judge. Unless you are a judge yourself, which I doubt, you have no idea what exactly goes on for a judge to decide a particular decision. Just saying.

      • Posted by Make Iqaluit Great Again on

        Maybe I am a judge. I suppose it depends on how you define that term? And, by the way, who cares whether I am one or not? And you’re right, I don’t know what goes on in the sacred and hallowed halls of judicial decision making. But, this humble lay person has a few ideas on what it might or should involve: :

        1. Be humble ( since you have all of the power);

        2. Because you are powerful, don’t use that power to hurt others ( You have the power of words and the final say, and that can be so hurtful and destructive if it is misused).

        3. Be positive. Be encouraging and try to bring out the best in others as opposed to attacking their perceived mistakes and shortcomings.

        I hope all the judges out there in the world aren’t offended by these comments of a humble lay person. I really admire judges. The hardest thing to do is sit in judgement of another person. That is why I think you need to approach it with a profound sense of humility and respect for others.

    • Posted by John WP Murphy on

      I am sure Justice Bychok lays awake at night concerned that you may agree or disagree with his decisions..
      We have an appeals court available to both sides if they disagree with his decision

  8. Posted by Mit on

    Use a 🚲 like the rest of the world’s DUI holders. Play stupid games win stupid prizes.

  9. Posted by lol on

    Licensing doesn’t matter in Nunavut. Five year old kids on unregistered uninsured quads driving in Iqaluit all summer and never stopped.

  10. Posted by Hunter on

    Life is all about choices, and the men had multiple choices

    The men had a choice to drink or not that night. They choose to drink..

    The men had a choice to drive while intoxicated. they could have asked someone to pick the up, they could have walked. It does not take more than 10 minutes to walk across town in 95% of our communities, they choose to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

    The men decided to roll the dice and play a stupid game, odds were against them. they had to be lucky 100% of the time not to get caught while the police just needed to be lucky once to catch them. This time they got caught and lost.

    Old saying goes you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.

    Lesson to all it does not pay to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated….get picked up or walk.

  11. Posted by Umingmak on

    It’s amazing that people think they can endanger the lives of everyone around them and still retain all of these privileges.

    No, it is not a “right” to operate a motorized vehicle. The punishments for drunk driving are far too soft as it is, yet there are people driving around Nunavut communities with 3 or 4 DUIs.

    Two offenses should equal a permanent driving ban – including on snowmobiles and ATVs.

    • Posted by John WP Murphy on

      And jail time

  12. Posted by Seriously?! on

    Hmmmmmm… I wonder if people ever hunted before motor vehicles… yep, they sure did!!! Guess you ‘ll be just fine without! 🙂

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