We’ve all been there. That moment when a craving hits hard. And no matter how bleak the weather, we’re compelled to throw on a parka and trudge out into the freezing cold in search of one of Canada’s culinary delights: poutine. For one woman, however, getting her gravy-and-curds fix landed in her in actual legal trouble — and it’s taken more than three years to resolve her case.
Back in December 2014, Louise Sauvé parked outside a local poutine restaurant in Saint-Jérôme, Que., to have a meal. Apparently it was snowing outside. As she dined, she stepped out a few times to feed the parking meter. Or so she thought.
After she paid for her poutine, Sauvé found a fat $43 parking ticket on her car. According to the CBC, Suavé paid the wrong meter multiple times — due to “confusion from the snow.” (Can this story get any more relatable?!).
Sauvé tried to contest the ticket in municipal court, but was unsuccessful. But later, a Quebec Superior Court justice responded to the municipal court’s ruling and overturned it.
Here’s where it gets interesting. When a losing party of a legal battle doesn’t agree with the ruling that was given out, they can choose to appeal it, which means that the case will be sent to a higher court to be reviewed again. That is what the city of Saint-Jérôme did after Sauvé’s case was overturned by the Superior Court justice. During these hearings, both the prosecutor (the city of Saint-Jérôme) and the defendant (Sauvé) were expected to make their respective cases again to a judge.
Ultimately the city’s appeal failed to change the court’s ruling. The Quebec Court of Appeal decided to support the Superior Court in a judgement that was made last week, meaning Sauvé *finally* won her poutine-related parking battle.
The appeals court also noted that some of the judges had been uncomfortable with court cases such as Sauvé’s because the judge ruled it as an absolute liability case, which basically means that Sauvé couldn’t actually defend herself after the city proved that she paid the wrong parking meter, even though it was an honest mistake.
Even though this is a small victory in the name of poutine, it’s a big victory for the way parking infractions may be handled in the future. That decision by the appeals court has now opened the door to a defence that wasn’t available for a long time. Jennifer Quaid, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, told the CBC: “Parking infractions have been treated as absolute liability offences for about 30 years,” but the decision by the Quebec Court of Appeal last week could change things for the better and make defence easier for citizens with parking tickets.
Sauvé’s not in the clear yet though. The municipality can still appeal the latest ruling, which would mean she could find herself back in court.
But we gotta give kudos to Sauvé. It takes a crazy amount of persistence and patience to contest a $43 parking ticket for four years.
Moral of the story: Don’t try to come between anyone and their poutine.