EDMONTON – A police officer has testified that an Alberta MP locked himself in his truck and refused to co-operate the night he was pulled over for suspected drunk driving.
Sgt. Conrad Moschansky told court he arrived at an Edmonton parking lot last December after an officer asked for help with Peter Goldring’s arrest following a riding Christmas party.
“He (the officer) informed me we had a member of Parliament under arrest and he was being belligerent,” Moschansky said Friday under questioning from Goldring’s lawyer, Dino Bottos, at a pre-trial hearing in provincial court.
Bottos read aloud one of Moschansky’s cellphone messages from the scene and the sergeant confirmed it was accurate.
“(I) spoke with (arresting officer) Const. Shelrud and he mentioned driver had locked himself in car and would not co-operate and would not open door,” read the email.
However, Goldring acknowledged within seconds of the sergeant’s arrival that he was there, Moschansky said. “The window came down four inches and we engaged in conversation.”
Soon after, Goldring was charged on one count of failing to provide a breathalyzer sample and released.
The 68-year-old MP for Edmonton-East is to go to trial Jan. 16.
He has represented the riding since he was elected under the Reform banner in 1997. He was elected most recently as a Conservative but has sat as an Independent since shortly after his arrest.
He has suggested his defence will include the assertion that police unfairly targeted him and his vehicle to be pulled over during a Checkstop crackdown.
Goldring has long been a critic of random breathalyzers and Checkstops. He says he supports cracking down on drinking and driving, but he believes that random checks with no reasonable grounds for search infringe on civil liberties.
Bottos is in court to try to get access to police electronic messages and phone records in the hour prior to Goldring’s arrest shortly after midnight on Dec. 4, 2011.
Judge Larry Anderson is to make a decision Thursday.
Moschansky acknowledged the arrest was handled differently from others in that within an hour he had phoned his supervisors to give them a heads-up that a high-profile person had been charged.
“I notified my bosses he (Goldring) was under arrest out of respect for them, so they wouldn’t have to hear about it third-hand. They wouldn’t appreciate that.”
Moschansky said everything was done by the book.
“The investigation was not different from any other investigation that was completed.”
Under questioning from Crown lawyer Laura Marr, the police officer said he was a directing a Checkstop team in the area that night. He said he told his officers to travel around and pull over any “vehicles directing attention to themselves.”
Moschansky told Marr he didn’t tell his officers to patrol in any specific area or target any specific make or model.
Marr asked if he had received or relayed any information on Goldring prior to his arrest that night.
“No,” said Moschansky.
Goldring, taking notes on his lap, sat in the front row in court.
He declined to speak on the record to reporters but reminded them that the evidence presented so far has not been challenged by his lawyer and that there is a lot more to the story.
Last month, in an earlier phase of the hearing, Shelrud testified he decided to pull Goldring over when he saw him drive out of a bar parking lot.
He said Goldring told him he had had one beer, but his vehicle had a “strong smell” of alcohol. Shelrud said Goldring was “belligerent,” announced he was an MP and at one point followed Shelrud back to his cruiser to try to “negotiate his way out of it.”
If found guilty, he faces a minimum $1,000 fine, up to five years in jail and a driving prohibition.