Cheering Canucks fans hit with $804 in tickets in Alta.
Published Saturday, April 14, 2012 4:32PM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 5:01AM PDT
A pair of B.C.-born Canucks fans living in Alberta are crying foul after being ticketed $402 each for hoisting flags from their truck and honking their horn during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Chris Barber brought his Canucks spirit with him when he moved from Vancouver Island to Fort McMurray, and on Wednesday he headed out with a friend to celebrate the first game of the team's post-season.
"We like to drive around town and just sort of support our team with our flags on the truck," Barber said. "We weren't really causing any problems, we weren't drinking or anything. We were just showing support."
But the 27-year-olds quickly caught the attention of an RCMP cruiser on Highway 63, and were pulled over just outside town.
The officer told them they were "stunting," a provincial driving offence that bars any activity likely to distract, startle or interfere with other motorists on the highway.
But Barber says the real offence was cheering for the wrong team.
"I felt that we were really targeted," he said. "You watch people get married and they're going down the road honking their horns, and that's alright."
Barber claims the Mountie and another officer joked and laughed about the situation behind his truck, then again while issuing the hefty tickets.
He also says he was told to remove a flag hanging from a hockey stick in the back of his truck, and when he struggled to untie the ropes propping it up the officer handed him a knife.
"We had to cut our flags," Barber said.
RCMP spokeswoman Const. Christina Wilkins said the tickets had nothing to do with what team the boys were cheering for, and the officers were merely responding to a serious driving offence.
"Waving flags or any type of activity that is distracting to other users of the roadway is definitely dangerous, and that is something that we will address," Wilkins said.
Wilkins could not say how commonly stunting tickets are handed out to honking sports fans with flags on their vehicles, but said she could not recall hearing about a similar incident.
"That doesn't mean it [doesn't happen]," she added. "The thing is that I'm one police officer."
The spokeswoman also said the number would be difficult to quantify because traffic tickets aren't generally entered into the RCMP's records system with much detail.
Barber insists he wasn't doing anything dangerous, and plans to fight the two tickets however he can.
"I don't know when it was ever illegal to support your team," he said. "It's a sad day to be a citizen of Fort McMurray."