N.S. MLA Hugh MacKay loses bid to block impaired-driving charge

·2 min read

Independent Nova Scotia MLA Hugh MacKay has failed in his bid to have an impaired-driving charge against him stayed.

His lawyer had argued that the Crown's decision to proceed against MacKay, the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's, by indictment was an abuse of process. An indictable charge carries a higher penalty on conviction than a charge that is treated as a summary offence.

MacKay is accused of driving drunk on Nov. 22, 2018, but the charge wasn't sworn until Feb. 19, 2020. Had the Crown decided to treat the impaired-driving charge as a summary offence, it would have been required to lay the charge by May 2019.

MacKay's lawyer, Donald Murray, had argued that the only reason the Crown proceeded by indictment was because it had run out of time and that should be considered an abuse of process.

Justice Peter Rosinksi of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court disagreed in a decision released Wednesday.

"Given the option between proceeding indictably or not proceeding at all, the Crown decision to proceed in Mr. MacKay's case is very far removed from being an 'abuse of process' as contemplated by the binding and persuasive jurisprudence," Rosinski wrote.

The case will now be referred back to provincial court for the setting of trial dates. MacKay has pleaded not guilty.

In November 2019, MacKay pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit in relation to an incident on Oct. 13, 2019. He was fined $2,000 and prohibited from driving for a year.

He was also the subject of an emergency protection order when someone said they feared for their safety due to MacKay. A court order protects the identity of the complainant in that case.