Usually, at this point, some radio rant show mouthpiece enters stage right
and yips and yelps about the evils of "judicial activism" and how the
so-called "liberal" courts mess with democracy. This sad script is followed
until what the people want is not what the whiners want and the
democratically elected politicians follow the 50%-plus-one.
Then the malcontents threaten to run to the very same courts they would
smear on every other occasion.
So it is with those who don't like the butt-out bylaw asking the courts to
toss out what most Calgarians back.
I say: Bring it on. This is one dogfight where the city legal beagles aren't
hightailing it in the other direction.
Paul Tolley, the city's No. 1 Perry Mason, has lawyers on the payroll who
can battle for the bylaw without running up any extra bills for Jane and Joe
Tolley has already looked at challenges to smoking bylaws in other places
and didn't find one successfully challenged in the courts.
"Municipalities can pass bylaws for the health, safety and welfare of people
and the protection of people and property," says the lawyer, who adds the
city has legal help who "are well-versed in challenged bylaws."
"We see a very good chance of success. The Supreme Court of Canada has
indicated municipal bylaws should enjoy a high degree of deference. There
must be a clear, visible and evident error on the part of the municipality.
"Courts are saying municipal councils are duly elected bodies accountable to
citizens and the courts should not interfere in matters of public policy."
Isn't this exactly what those who froth against the nanny state want too?
Apparently not. When the irony of the anti-bylaw folks is pointed out,
"Everybody has the right to protect their self-interest. I guess there is a
bit of a paradox there." Indeed.
At least the Alberta Restaurant and Food Services Association gets it.
They've appeared before council and city paper shufflers on this butt ban
They have 100 hotels with bars as Calgary members, along with 300 city
eateries with lounges and at least 60 additional watering holes.
"We are not taking any legal action. We are not contemplating legal action.
I can say that for certain. We feel our resources can be spent on better
ways such as dealing with the critical worker shortage that really hits
everybody's bottom line," says Lindy Rollingson, the association's prez.
Lindy "appreciates" the position of bars who are pondering to do battle
with the city, but points out her switchboard isn't lighting up with calls
Still, the Calgary Pub and Bar Association, representing only 40 pubs and
clubs, but getting all kinds of press since the outfit includes the Penny
Lane entertainment empire, is looking at a court challenge, with a
decision in a week to 10 days.
As a last stand, the group offered to go along with moving the no-smoking
date up a year in exchange for patio puffing into eternity. Didn't work.
Predictably, Mike Joseph from the group says the bylaw is "full of holes."
He's still miffed the "progressive solution" of patio smoking was not
And, sigh, the 40 bars also have a Plan B.
If they don't go to the courts they may try and turn their spots into
private clubs, shamelessly looking to use the same exemption as the
veterans at the Legion, as if the city won't close that loophole.
As Bylaw Bill Bruce says, bars won't be able to sell every drinker a
membership card and ... presto ... they can smoke.
The bars would have to jump through all the hoops of a "real" private club
with all the paperwork and procedures.
"Letting Joe Citizen join on the spot will not work," he says.
Yes, in the last few days, it is becoming painfully apparent these bars
will only head into the future when democracy drags them there.
Lawsuit Over Smoking Bylaw a Waste Of Time, Says Restaurant Group -
Oct, 18 2006
CALGARY/AM770CHQR - An Alberta restaurant group has no plans to launch legal
action against the city of Calgary over the new smoking bylaw.
The bylaw pushes the smoke free date in Calgary ahead by one year, with a
Lindy Rollingson, President and CEO of the Alberta Restaurant and Food
Services Association, tells CHQR News you can't fight city hall.
"We expected something along these lines. It has been in place in a similar
format in Edmonton for the last year. While there was some hardship
experienced at the beginning, quite frankly, with the boom I think that has
more than taken up any slack the operators experienced at that time."
Rollingson says smoking bans are happening all over the province and a
lawsuit now won't change that.
Vancouver, BC, Canada
"It should be legal for a private maternity ward to permit smoking."
- Chuck Wright, May 22, 2006