Top cop defends law to get gangs and hookers out of bars

Solicitor General Fred Lindsay says he’s willing to fight any legal challenge once Alberta passes a tough new law aimed at keeping violent gangs out of bars.

EDMONTON — Solicitor General Fred Lindsay says he’s willing to fight any legal challenge once Alberta passes a tough new law aimed at keeping violent gangs out of bars.

“We believe that it’s something that’s going to make Alberta a safer place,” Lindsay said in an interview.

“I believe people are looking for government to be creative in regards to making their community safe and I believe this bill will get widespread public support.”

The Alberta Criminal Trial Lawyers Association is already raising the alarm that the proposed legislation may be a breach of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The legislation introduced last week would allow police to remove suspected gang members, prostitutes and their associates from bars and nightclubs.

Bill 42 also proposes bar owners be allowed to collect personal information from customers that would then be shared with police and the government.

Lindsay points out that British Columbia already has a similar law.

“The difference between our legislation and theirs is that in ours, the police can go into a licensed facility without getting a call,” the minister said Tuesday.

“So that’s really the only difference and I don’t see that as standing in the way.”

Alberta privacy commissioner Frank Work said last week that he doubts bars will be safer by collecting the names of patrons, their ages and photographs.

But the proposed legislation is already having an impact on the province’s bar scene.

A newly formed group has sprung up in Calgary that is working toward a program this spring in the interests of “guest safety.”

The Calgary Bar Watch Association is inviting bars to share information with police and other pub and nightclub owners.

The association says it will ensure that any information gathered from customers will be handled to comply with all legislation and regulations.

Bar owners in the program will be required to use closed-circuit television cameras and to post policies and restrictions.

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