Judge reserves decision in case of profane anti-Harper sign in car | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Judge reserves decision in case of profane anti-Harper sign in car

April 01, 2016 - 6:07 PM

PONOKA, Alta. - A provincial court judge has reserved his decision in the case of an Edmonton man who is fighting a $543 ticket for putting a sign in his car with an expletive aimed at former prime minister Stephen Harper.

Robert Wells was driving home from B.C. when he was pulled over last August by an RCMP officer near Ponoka, Alta., and told to remove the sign.

He refused, saying it was a political statement and he had a right to have it in his window.

Wells devised the handmade, pink “F–k Harper” sign to voice his contempt for Harper’s Conservative government.

The officer who gave him the stunting ticket testified Friday, saying the sign could be distracting to other drivers.

The court also heard from a woman who filed the complaint, who testified she saw Wells driving erratically and braking sharply in front of other drivers.

Outside court, she said she complained not because of her political views but because of the expletive on the sign.

"Someone that age should know better than to put profanity on the back of a car, driving where so many young children are out," said Linda Trewin.

But Wells, who represented himself in court, said he knew he had to challenge the ticket because it suppressed his right to freedom of expression.

"If you put (up) a sign that people don't like, and the police can go and threaten you with a ticket if you don't take it down, then it's not a free and democratic society, this is a police state," he said outside court. "That's very dangerous, and I hope the judge got that concept."

The Crown argued there are other ways to express yourself and a busy highway is not the right place for such political discourse.

"I think the sign is, according to the section of the Traffic Safety Act, is likely to distract users of the highway and that's the basis for us proceeding today," said prosecutor Steve Degen.

The judge will deliver his ruling on July 15.

Wells said he got a mixed response from other drivers during his journey, with some motorists giving him the thumbs up and others giving him the middle finger.

Wells is no stranger to this brand of political expression. He said he was pulled over by Edmonton police 15 years ago, after he put a “F–k Ralph” bumper sticker on his car to protest former Alberta premier Ralph Klein’s push for private health care.

He said he wasn’t charged because police determined he wasn’t doing anything illegal.

(CTV Edmonton, The Canadian Press)

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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