Calvin Barry Discusses the Landmark Impaired Canoeing Case on CBC Radio

Calvin Barry was recently interviewed by Rita Celli regarding the recent conviction of an Ontario man for impaired operation of a canoe, which resulted in the death of an 8 year old boy.

Police laid four charges against Sillars: impaired operation of a vessel causing death, operating a vessel with more than 80 mg of alcohol in 100 mL blood, dangerous operation of a vessel, and criminal negligence causing death. He was convicted of all four and faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, though more likely a sentence in the range of two to 10 years.

The issue of whether paddlers can be charged with impaired operation is not new. Canada’s impaired driving laws have applied to “vessels” since 1961, but they do not define what exactly a “vessel” is. Many police forces have long taken the view that canoes, kayaks and even stand-up paddleboards count as vessels; prosecutors, however, have been more skeptical. In Ontario, there have been times — most recently in 2011 — where police have laid charges for impaired paddling, but prosecutors later withdrew the charge. “The information we had from prosecutors was that impaired operation of canoes and kayaks was not charged,” a federal justice official told MPs on Sept. 27, 2017.

At the very least, case law tells us this: Until Sillars, nobody had ever contested impaired paddling charges in court.

Listen to the interview here: https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1562558019839