Articles on Legal Themes

Slow down and move over

Changes to Nova Scotia's Motor Vehicle Act came into force on May 1 2010. The changes are intended to make the roads safer for emergency personnel such as police officers and firefighters.

The new law says that when passing an emergency vehicle stopped on the shoulder or road with its lights flashing you must:

  • slow down to 60 kilometres per hour, or keep to the posted speed limit, if it is less than 60 km/hour; and
  • move over into the lane furthest away from the emergency vehicle, if the lane beside you is travelling in the same direction and you can do so safely. You must still slow down to 60 km/hour or keep to the posted speed limit if there is no other lane moving in the same direction as you. However, you are not required to move into an oncoming traffic lane.

You are not required to slow down or move over if the road is divided by a median and the emergency vehicle is on the other side of the median.

An emergency vehicle is not just an ambulance. It also includes includes a police vehicle, firefighting vehicle, conservation officers' vehicle, and motor vehicle or motor carrier inspectors'  vehicle.

Current fines for a first offence under this law are between $348.95 and $693.95.  You'll find further information on the Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal website at:

May 2010, updated April 2015

The Supreme Court of Canada recently decided, in a case called Vancouver (City) v. Ward, that money (damages) may be awarded for breach of a person's rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter). 

The complainant in the case was wrongly suspected of having planned to throw a pie at the Prime Minister. He was awarded $5,000 for having been strip searched, which was found to be a breach of his s. 8 Charter right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

Section 24(1) of the Charter provides that anyone whose Charter rights have been breached may apply to court for an 'appropriate and just' remedy. Courts have a lot of scope in deciding on a remedy for a Charter breach. Money compensation is just one possible, and new, remedy. Other possible remedies include, for example, dismissing or staying charges, or excluding evidence.

In the Ward case the Supreme Court of Canada outlined four main steps involved in dealing with a claim for damages for a Charter breach:

Step 1: Was the Charter breached?
Step 2. Would damages compensate a victim for personal loss, vindicate a Charter breach and/or deter future breaches?
Step 3: Even if damages would fulfill a purpose set out in Step 2, can the government show that a damage award would be inappropriate or unfair? For example, are there alternative remedies that would adequately address the breach?
Step 4: How much money should be awarded?

For more information:

  • Click here to read the case online;
  • Click here to read the Charter of Rights and Freedoms online
  • Click here to find out more about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Julien S. Matte is a bilingual lawyer specializing in civil litigation.  After years of defending the Federal Government, Julien recently founded North End Law, on the premise that lawyers sell their expertise rather than their time.  Given this reality, any initiative that increases efficiency in the legal system will benefit everyone by reducing the time needed to address legal issues. His volunteer efforts with LISNS through the award winning Public Navigator Program, Small Claims Court Pilot and Self Representation Guide directly supports and encourages putting legal information into litigants’ hands. 

Find out more about Julien on his website: