Police in Quebec continue to say they are not targeting motorists in Ontario and motorists in Ontario, apparently, remain suspicious of them.
Such is life in the border towns, where we live peacefully married, but forever doubt.
There were a slew of responses last week to columns about drivers in the Ottawa area who felt they were being targeted by Quebec police forces over the issue of expired license plate stickers — already expired, or just appeared, or in that gray “grace” area of Ontario created.
Clients at Nordic Spa in Chelsea, Kew, after soaking in hot water, were privately steamed to be beaten, days later, with a $495 ticket in the mail for something that, arguably, was no crime in their home county.
Another sore spot comes between the counties – darkened windows – and John Taylor recounts an amazing experience that happened in June 2021. Oh boy, a bit of a howl.
He’s been held in the Gulf of Norway, Kew, about 70 kilometers west on the Ottawa River, since he “was in diapers” on the land his grandfather criss-crossed over 130 years ago. Taylor, 76, a retired businessman, has moved back and forth from the site for 60 years.
He prefers convertibles and the last bunch of cars were fabric roofs with tinted side windows, like the current 2021 Lexus, tinted at the dealership, so they met – he was told – Ontario standards.
Something strange happened that day. Taylor was bitten by a dog, on a walk in the hut, and was bad enough to break the skin and draw blood. So, just before 6 p.m., he began driving himself to the hospital in Renfrew, and planned to cross into Ontario at Portage-du-Fort, Que.
On Highway 303 near the border, it was stopped by the Sûreté du Quebec. The officer said he noticed Taylor’s car lacked a front license plate, which is mandatory in Ontario. Taylor explained that the front strut plate was a rear arrangement from Japan, but the plate was on the front seat of the car.
Taylor said the officer started inquiring if he had a legal right to be in his shack due to COVID restrictions. Then he asked where he was going and told Taylor to bite the dog. He said the officer asked to see the evidence.
“Literally, I was getting my pants down in the car for him to have a look at this,” he said this week. “Seventy-six years old, on my way to the hospital he treats me like a criminal.”
Convinced that the sting was real, the officer then turned his attention to the driver’s side window, which he claimed was tinted enough to violate Quebec law. The top, by the way, was down, which gave the officer a clear view.
(The county allows shading of the front side window that provides at least 70 percent light penetration, a percentage that can be tested with a special meter that officers don’t usually carry.)
“You can read a book out the window,” Taylor said. “That’s how light the dye is.”
While the officer was writing the ticket, Taylor said he looked at the Quebec 70/30 rule on his mobile phone, which he then showed to the officer.
“He looked at (the phone) and threw it on the front seat of the car and said, ‘This is rubbish.'”
He was handed a $172 ticket, which he plans to fight in court next month. He stressed that the most disturbing matter is the treatment of the law-abiding citizen who has invested dearly in the governorate.
“Lack of respect and, more importantly, prevented me from getting medical care.”
Taylor said he complained in writing about the officer’s behavior and the matter was brought to the conciliator. The results are confidential.
In fact, laws regarding darkened windows vary between jurisdictions. While Quebec has a 70/30 rule for front windows, the Ontario Highway Traffic Code says no paint or tint can be added “that would significantly obscure a vehicle’s interior when viewed from the outside.”
Maximum tint levels vary by state and Taylor sees his experience as a cautionary tale for the thousands of motorists outside the province who will travel through Quebec, especially in the tourist season.
(Although there is a nearby jurisdiction, Gatineau Police reported these numbers for tinted window crimes: in 2019, 500 charges for loaded drivers in Ontario, 513 for Quebec; in 2020, 726 (Ontario) and 701 (Q); in 2021 , 766 (ont.) and 814 (q).
From his long experience in the province, Taylor has heard many stories of Ontarians feeling targeted by Quebec police — and pandemic travel restrictions only added to the theory.
“This whole thing between the Ontario and Quebec League and it rears its ugly head every four or five years, it seems.”
Time to cast some light, perhaps, instead of casting shadow.
To contact Kelly Egan, please call 613-291-6265 or email email@example.com