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The Globe and Mail

Alberta MP accused of not providing breath sample tried to ‘negotiate:’ police officer

Edmonton MP Peter Goldring, who left the Conservative caucus after being charged with failing to take a breathalyzer, speaks in the House of Commons on on Nov. 21, 2011.

Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

A police officer who arrested an Alberta MP suspected of drunk driving says the politician tried to "negotiate his way out of it" after he was pulled over.

Constable Trevor Shelrud also told a court hearing in Edmonton that Peter Goldring was belligerent and smelled strongly of alcohol when he was stopped on his way home from a riding Christmas party last December.

Mr. Goldring, who represents Edmonton East, is accused of not providing a breathalyzer sample. He has been the riding's MP since he was elected under the Reform banner in 1997. He was elected most recently as a Conservative but now sits as an Independent.

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Constable Shelrud was testifying at a disclosure hearing Friday where Mr. Goldring's lawyer tried to find out more about what police were saying to each other the night his client was stopped.

The nine-year veteran said he was patrolling north Edmonton just after midnight Dec. 4 when he noticed a single vehicle idling in the parking lot of a sports bar, which was in the same strip mall as the Christmas party.

"I told myself, 'If it moves, I'll check it out. If not, I'm on my way,"' Constable Shelrud told Mr. Goldring's lawyer Dino Bottos.

Constable Shelrud drove around the block, stopped and dealt with another driver, circled back and noticed an SUV pulling out of the parking lot. He stopped it.

The driver, Mr. Goldring, said he had consumed one beer. Constable Shelrud's notes describe how the MP hesitated in his answers and "smelled strongly of ethyl alcohol."

Mr. Goldring identified himself and said he was a member of Parliament, said Constable Shelrud. Constable Shelrud returned to his car to confirm Mr. Goldring's status – "I had never heard of Peter Goldring before" – and call his supervisor to describe what had happened.

"I may have used the word belligerent, yes," he responded to Mr. Bottos.

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While Constable Shelrud was back in his car, he noticed Mr. Goldring had left his vehicle.

"Mr. Goldring had already exited his vehicle and come up to the police car to try and negotiate his way out of it," Mr. Shelrud said.

Mr. Goldring didn't make it all the way to the officer's car, he added.

Constable Shelrud denied Mr. Bottos's direct suggestions that he had been instructed to look for Mr. Goldring or his vehicle.

He said that he had actually planned to patrol a different neighbourhood that night, but changed his mind when he realized there were already three other officers at the nightclub he'd intended on staking out.

Mr. Goldring has long argued roadside breath-screening devices breach individual rights to be presumed innocent and to not self-incriminate. He has indicated he will use his defence to advance that cause.

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He's also said the circumstances of how police came to pull him over and how he was treated will form part of his defence.

The Crown has provided some police communications from that night, but Mr. Goldring's lawyer asked for more Friday.

He wants all north division police communications from 11:19 p.m. Dec. 3 through to 1:45 a.m. the following morning, when Mr. Goldring was released. Court heard that there could be as many as 300 radio calls in that time from that part of the city.

Mr. Bottos is also asking for cellphone records of conversations between two officers on duty that night, one of them the supervising officer. He's also looking for written records and reports from one officer, as well as records of any tips that may have come in from the public that night.

Crown prosecutor Laura Marr told court that all relevant communications have already been disclosed. Some records sought by Mr. Bottos don't exist, she said.

If found guilty, he faces a minimum $1,000 fine, up to five years in jail and a driving prohibition.

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