House of Commons Hansard #24 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was impaired.


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3:10 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to compliment my colleague for his outstanding and eloquent speech.

Drunk driving is an enormous problem, as my colleagues have mentioned, and successive governments have failed in bringing forward legislation to adequately address it. As we have heard before today, more than three people die every day and over 300 are injured every day because of drunk drivers.

I know that drunk driving is a problem in his province as it is in mine. I know that he has seen in his riding, as we all have, people who have died or have been injured by drunk drivers. I would like my hon. friend to give the House his opinions and his views on what the government can do to try to turn the tide in this extremely important social problem.

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3:10 p.m.


Jake Hoeppner Reform Portage—Lisgar, MB

I thank my hon. colleague for the question. It is a very hard question to answer. When I moved into the area where I farmed for 35 years, alcoholism was a real problem. It is not just drunk driving.

The education in our schools, in our homes and probably by government programs all point out how serious is the issue of being drunk, whether in a car or on a snowmobile or on a farm implement. A number of accidents have occurred in our community. They did not just happen on the road.

I remember one of my neighbours who had been drinking quite heavily during the day was having problems with his baler. Luckily the good Lord prevented him from being killed. He stuck his head into the bale chamber when the tractor was running to see what was the problem. That is how serious this issue is when your senses are not 100% clear and you do not really know what you are doing.

We have to start really hammering this home to young families. Children have to be educated to know that they have to be responsible for their actions, whether it is being drunk, whether it is being disobedient to law enforcement officers. Education is worth its weight in gold if it can be more or less implemented in all our homes and schools.

We can never imagine what kind of savings this country would have emotionally and financially if we did not have the drunk driving instances, whether on the road or on the farms or on the sports field. We have seen a number of serious accidents in boats where boaters should not have been physically behind the wheel.

I thank my hon. colleague for his question. I hope that adds a bit to the debate.

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3:10 p.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, this has turned out to be an emotional day as we debate these issues and bring to our conscience the sadness and tragedy caused to so many individuals and their families.

One of the difficulties as we look at this, and it is perhaps even more emotional than we are able to discuss here right now, is that so many people do drink at one level or another. One of the difficulties I see in looking at the serious consequences of this is that those people who do have drink, and who do drive home, and have done this for a long time and have never had any difficulty with it, may be saying “There but for the grace of God go I”, when they see one of these accidents.

When we look at the consequences of what happens, when we look at what is needed to prevent these accidents and those consequences, it is very difficult to accept responsibility for what so many of us do on a day by day basis.

I ask the hon. member for Portage—Lisgar if he does not see the need for toughening up the penalties in our judicial system so there is a line drawn in the sand so we can all understand the basis that this is built upon. If you cross the line, you pay the penalty. That may be a sledgehammer but it is at least the beginning of dealing with a serious problem.

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3:15 p.m.


Jake Hoeppner Reform Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for that quick question.

I do not know if he remembers the good old days when discipline was exercised at home and also in the schools. We knew after being disciplined by the teacher that it would be worse at home. Maybe that was a little harsh.

If the fines and the sentence are not deterrents, what is? Why do we have fines at all? We must have fixed discipline, fixed sentences for these accidents. I cannot call them crimes but I guess they are crimes to humanity. When that happens, I think people will start listening and obeying the law.

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3:15 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, officially this is my maiden speech.

I thank the people in my riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca for giving me another opportunity to represent them in this House. For all of us it is an enormous responsibility and an enormous honour to finally be in this arena where we can fight to make our country a better place. I know all of us here are grateful for this. I am extraordinarily grateful to the people of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca for giving me that opportunity.

I also thank my colleague from Prince George—Bulkley Valley who has done a yeoman's job for years, in the last Parliament and now in this one, in fighting for this issue. It is perhaps one of the greatest social issues which extends across boundaries from coast to coast. It affects health. It affects welfare. It affects human beings in so many different areas. In fact it has been somewhat of a silent horror in our midst for many years. My colleague from Prince George—Bulkley Valley has stood out there, and not alone as we have been backing him, as the point person in fighting for this issue.

Drunk driving is a problem and social ill that costs us over $7 billion per year. As I mentioned in the question to my colleague, it kills over four people every day and injures over 300 people every single day. It has a social cost that goes way beyond that because it affects the family.

I would like to recite a personal situation. When I was working in the emergency department of a hospital in the the riding of my colleague for Prince George—Bulkley Valley, a code blue was called which is a major trauma. An individual was brought in with massive head injuries. He was dying. We could not save this young man.

Shortly thereafter the driver of the car was brought in, absolutely drunk. This individual refused treatment, refused to communicate with us, refused to have a blood alcohol sample taken. At the crash site this individual was trying to drag his nearly deceased friend into the driver's side so the deceased would be the culprit and he would be free.

The difficulties for the police in trying to prosecute this individual were massive. For example they had to observe the blood being taken. It had to be done in a certain fashion. It had to be done within two hours of the accident. If any of those are broken, in the words of a defence attorney who said to me “I am smart. I can get any of these guys off on a technicality”. What kind of message does this send? What kind of judicial system do we have in this country that allows somebody to murder their friend, because that is what it is when you drive a car and you are drunk, and then allows them to get off on a technicality? That hole has to be repaired.

And it is not just one hole, there are many. The justice system we have today has numerous little loopholes that enable people who are guilty of committing murder through drunk driving to get off. This has to change.

My colleagues in the Reform Party have put forth many constructive suggestions to the government. I will name a few. I ask the hon. justice minister to listen to them and adopt these suggestions.

One, when blood is extracted that it can be done in greater than two hours, four hours for example.

Two, that the blood alcohol level be dropped to 55 milligrams per decilitre instead of the 80 milligrams per decilitre which it is today, in terms of defining somebody who is impaired.

Three, that when there is a situation where somebody is involved in a serious traffic accident, a blood sample can be taken automatically.

Four, that if somebody refuses to have a blood sample taken, they will be levelled with a criminal charge of refusal to submit. If someone is innocent they should not have a problem with this. The only reason they would want to refuse was if they were guilty, is it not?

Five, we have to remove the barriers to police officers and enable them to do their job.

Drunk driving is a little window of insight into the difficulties the police have in performing their duties. For example, if an individual is caught driving while drunk, it takes about six hours of the police officer's time to engage in the paperwork in order to prosecute them. Six hours off the beat. Six hours of not being able to find and prosecute criminals. Six hours of time that could be better spent doing something productive and keeping our streets safe. That has to change. The paperwork police officers are mired in today prevents them from doing their jobs and keeping our streets safe.

Six, we have to have a victims bill of rights.

Our house leader put forward a private members bill, a victims bill of rights which the government refused to adopt. This bill of rights is rooted in fairness and sensitivity to the victims. For too long the justice department has taken into consideration the rights of the criminal and in many cases has ignored the rights of the victim. That is going to change. It must change.

We have put forth in two successive Parliaments constructive suggestions, two victims bill of rights that would protect victims during court proceedings. Many suggestions are very constructive.

For example, victims must be kept informed of all proceedings. Victims must have the right to be heard at every stage of the judicial system. Victims must be informed of when and what charges are going to be laid. Victims must have the right to be protected from intimidation. Victims must be able to have time off in order to attend court and that they do not have to bear an economic penalty during the course of their ordeal. There must be no plea bargaining or charges dropped unless the victim is aware of it. Victims must be made aware of the support services available to them.

This is not complex. This is rooted in fairness. Again it is the innocent victims who have been violated through no fault of their own. The least we can do as a caring, sensitive society is afford them the same consideration as we afford the criminals.

My colleague from Lisgar mentioned the aspect of education. Too often we ignore that. We have to address the children early on and the earlier the better. If the education system is involved not only on the issue of alcohol, but also drugs and other aspects of drunk driving and criminal activity, that will have an impact. There are some remarkably effective programs which have been created not only in this country but also in the United States.

Drunk driving is a social ill. People make mistakes. However we must have the legislative framework to enable us to do what we can to ensure that this massive social problem decreases. We cannot ignore the problem any longer.

In the last Parliament very little time was spent on this problem, yet it walks across the social spectrum. It waltzes across many different ministries. It is something which we must be concerned about.

One need not look any further than the victims. It is not only the person who is injured in a car accident who pays the price. Their families, friends and loved ones pay a price too.

I hope that we in this House can take it upon ourselves to support the very fine motion presented by the hon. member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley. I am sure there will be unanimous support for it.

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3:25 p.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have enjoyed the debate today because it has been a very different debate for this place. It has been very emotional. A lot of personal stories have come out.

We are seeing consensus building not only in the country, where I think there has been consensus for quite some time, but also in the House of Commons among all parties that this issue needs to be dealt with. I hope that a committee will be struck as a result of this Reform motion which will bring forward strong legislation to deal with this huge problem.

The hon. member outlined the social costs, both financial and personal, of these tragedies to the country.

I would like to relate a story to the House. The first tragedy that I remember was as a very young boy. I might have been about five years old. We had to go back to my Dad's hometown of Minnedosa for a funeral. Actually there were two funerals.

Two of my cousins had graduated from the high school in Minnedosa and were heading to Brandon for the evening. Minnedosa is not a big place so they got together with the high school in Brandon for their celebration. There were five people in the car. The road is as straight as an arrow from Minnedosa to Brandon but unfortunately a drunk driver swerved over and hit their car head on. Two of my cousins were killed as well as others in the car. In the small town of Minnedosa it was a real tragedy.

As is so often the case, the drunk driver walked away from the car. Five kids were killed, but the drunk driver for some reason was not killed. I do not know if it is because these drivers are so drunk or what, but very often they are the only ones who walk away from the scene.

The community was in shock. My aunt, uncle and the extended family were in shock. I always wondered if my aunt, who recently passed away, ever recovered.

I can still remember it. I was five years old. I can remember all the draped coffins at the front of the church. There was such profound sadness. I was very young so I did not really understand it all, except I knew that everyone I knew and cared about was shaken to the core.

That was one of the instances in my life that somewhere along the line I decided as an adult that I would abstain from alcohol. I realize it is a personal choice and I do not say it has to be the choice of a lot of people. Part of it was I wanted to send a message to those people I cared about. The deaths, the broken homes and the social cost of irresponsible drinking especially is just not something I want to participate in. I made the decision a long time ago. I drank an awful lot of Coca-Colas while others around me were doing otherwise, but it has never hurt me. It was triggered really at five years of age when that first tragedy in my life happened.

Perhaps if there is a minute left the hon. member may want to tell it again, because I think these personal stories are a powerful testimony of why change is required. Perhaps he would like to relate other stories from his life as a physician where he has had to deal with this horrible social crime.

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3:30 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend, our whip, for his heartfelt intervention. None of us could have said it more eloquently, I am sure.

Working in the emergency department I have seen a lot of people die. I will have to say this. Of all the people I have seen killed none are perhaps more tragic than those individuals, particularly the young people who have died in a car accident as a result of drunk driving. I remember when I was an intern I was working in the emergency department just before Christmas. One of my colleagues, a fellow emergency room physician, was there. He went home. He was moving to Victoria and he was bringing his family. He was driving to the airport and a drunk driver crossed over the line and killed him. They brought him into the emergency department half an hour later while I was still on shift, and he was almost dead. He did die. You never forget something like that.

I think it is wise for us to remember that on a cold night, on any night, one-fifth of the people who are in their cars driving have been drinking and one out of every 25 is drunk.

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3:30 p.m.


Guy St-Julien Liberal Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to divide my time with the member for Wentworth—Burlington on today's opposition motion about impaired driving. It is true that this problem has caused, and will cause, much sadness in our families. This motion is very important for all Canadians.

According to the statistics, there were over 37,000 cases of impaired driving in Canada in 1995; over 60 resulted in death and over 500 resulted in injury. These are the sad facts.

In the case of Quebec, we know that the Société d'assurance automobile du Québec is going to crack down on motorists. As of December 1, it will be bringing in the toughest measures yet. It is known that fear of the police and of reprisals has the most calming effect on motorists. That is why even tougher measures will be introduced as of this date for those driving while impaired. Drivers who take the wheel while their licence is suspended are also being targeted by the Government of Quebec.

Obviously, everyone wants the slaughter to cease. The finger is always being pointed at young drivers and, effective July 1, 1997, young Quebec drivers with probationary licences cannot drink any alcohol and drive, or their licences will be revoked.

As of December 1, the highway safety code will carry much tougher penalties. Those arrested for the first time for impaired driving will have their licence taken away immediately by the police, and revoked for one year. Repeat offenders will be given longer suspensions, from 24 to 36 months, and their vehicle will be confiscated when they are arrested. They will also be required to go for addiction treatment.

First time offenders will be required to attend the Alcofrein program. Previously, only those ordered to do so by a judge had to attend a three hour information session offered by the Department of Public Safety at minimal cost. The facilitators for Alcofrein make errant drivers aware of their actions and focus their efforts on destroying the myths surrounding alcohol:

I have recently become aware of an article by Isabelle Mathieu that appeared in Le Soleil on September 13, 1997. The headline says “Wake up before disaster strikes” and I would like to read a few excerpts:

Imagine just for one second that your last, slightly alcohol-tinged evening with the love of your life ended up in a ditch, with her dead. For the past two years, that is the horrible scene that plays out in the head of Francis Laroche.

This young man from Beauport, now aged 22, has not forgotten the tragedy, let alone accepted it. He has, nevertheless, agreed to talk about it for the shock value to all drivers who are still continuing to tempt fate.

On October 2, 1995, at 3:15 in the morning, Francis, his 18-year-old girlfriend and three other friends were coming back from partying at a bar in Sainte-Foy. Francis was driving, he had consumed three beers over the course of the evening and felt that he was in full possession of his faculties.

“Before we started out, I said to my girlfriend “Look, I'll blow into the breathalyser and if I'm over 0.08, I'll hand my keys over to you, no problem” recalls Francis. But the bar's breathalyser was out of order that night.

While the five friends were on the Autoroute de la Capitale near Pierre-Bertrand Boulevard, the vehicle in front of them changed lanes abruptly. Francis lost control—

Francis' girlfriend of a year was killed and his three friends were injured. He ended up with a cut on his head, and when he took the police breathalyser test, his level was 0.1130 over the 0.08 limit.

He did not, however, experience any difficulty whatsoever in performing the physical tests such as walking a straight line. Later, the Crown could not, therefore, prove that the accident was directly linked to drinking. In May 1996, Francis Laroche pleaded guilty to the charge of impaired driving. He got off with a $500 fine and a year's suspension. His description of this: “The fine and the rest of it are really secondary compared to the much worse punishment of causing the death of my girlfriend”.

There are stories like this every day.

The legal proceedings weighed very heavily on the young man, whose record had been clean before the accident. “When I was in the cell at the courthouse, I did not believe it. I could not believe I was there”, he recalls. “When I walked in the street, people looked at me. I felt everybody knew. I felt judged, even by someone who had been drinking and driving for 20 years”.

Can this be prevented? Since the beginning of June, alcohol has robbed over a dozen people of their lives on Quebec highways. In 1996, 412 people were killed, while 1,656 were seriously wounded and 6,250 received minor injuries. The Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec has paid out $200 million in compensation.

“Delinquent drivers are a minority, but they do so much damage that we hear only about them”, points out Yvon Lapointe, head of the road safety department of CAA-Québec—

Statistics indicate that the number of young people driving while impaired is decreasing more rapidly than is the case for adults. Conclusion: prevention is really working with young people—

In imposing zero tolerance for impaired driving, the government is betting that, after three years of total abstinence when driving as part of the sentence, young drivers will have learned how to control their own consumption—

There is frequent reference to young people. And in the Quebec government's bill:

—young people are presented as irresponsible, incapable of learning caution. The message must be repeated loud and clear: it is only a small minority of young people who drive dangerously and risk causing accidents. In their case, something drastic must be done, I agree. But not in the case of the 97.4 per cent of young drivers who have not been involved in injury-causing accidents, whose only crime is being born after 1972.

We all have a driver's licence. The renewal form asks clearly: “Do you wear glasses?” It also asks if we suffer from any illnesses. But I want to go further. This motion introduced by the Reform Party member is important.

Perhaps there would be agreement on 0.03, 0.05, but I still say the Government of Canada should require zero tolerance for several years after a second offence, as is the case for young people in Quebec.

Drivers of snowmobiles, tractors, motorcycles and boats should not be left out. The police should also be allowed to do their job. When examining the driver's licence of someone they have stopped, they could see the code on it, as they now do for glasses. There would be a code for those with zero tolerance. This would perhaps be a way to reduce the number of accidents.

We will not go that far. In September, and there are accidents every week, in the municipality of Val d'Or in my riding, we lost a young leader, a man by the name of Jean Godbout, who was knocked down by someone over the age of 40 driving in the downtown area. This was a married man with two young children. His mother had already lost one son in the Balmoral mine accident in Abitibi.

This brings sorrow to all families. I understand, and we all understand, that you have just lost the people on whom you counted the most, those close to you. The hardest part about these accidents is saying goodbye to a friend. On behalf of all families, I say that there must be an end to this slaughter in Canada.

Following discussions, and with the consent of all parties in the House, I move:

That the motion be amended:

(a) by deleting the words “a legislative committee” and substituting therefor the words: “the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights”; and

(b) by changing the period at the end to a semi-colon and adding the following: “and that the said Committee, when so instructed, submit its report to the House no later than May 15, 1998.”

This amendment is a clear indication of the commitment of all members in the House.

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3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the amendment.

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3:45 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to follow the member for Abitibi in the debate. I certainly agree with his motion. As well, I find myself largely in support of the original motion as proposed by the Reform Party.

I enter the debate cautiously because I am not a great fan of prevention arguments when it comes to crime. I do find, however, that the motion proposed by the Reform Party is moderate and quite reasonable in its approach to the problem.

I come to the crime of drunk driving from a different experience than the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca who told how as a physician he saw the broken bodies of people who were killed by drunk drivers.

In my earlier days in a former life I was a reporter. I not only saw people who were injured and dying in hospitals but I saw the larger consequences beyond the hospitals. That included not just the families of victims. It also included the families of persons who committed the crimes. That made me realize that when dealing with the problem of applying and creating laws we have to remember to look at it as broadly as possible. The human condition is very broad and each one of us sometimes only sees a part of it.

There is a problem with increasing penalties for drunk driving. I certainly agree we should have penalties that serve as deterrents, but I have a problem when we want to create penalties that basically reflect our outrage at the crime. Then penalties become the vengeance of the state rather than penalties of either deterrence or rehabilitation.

I use an example from my own life in earlier years as a young journalist. The drunk driver, a father of young children, had tried very hard over the years to control his habit and had been largely successful. One afternoon coming home from picking up his children from a soccer game he had been to the pub, had drank, was over the limit, was involved in an accident and one of his children was killed.

What happens then? As a young reporter I saw the tragedy of a dead child. There is nothing more heart rending than to see a child that has been killed in an accident. I do not know why it is that we can tolerate seeing dead adults, but as a reporter I could never steel my heart to a dead child.

Later I followed it up and found that the wife and children of that drunk driver were absolutely devastated, not just because of the tragedy but because of the expected loss of the bread winner of the family. They know that he tried very hard to control his weakness, and despite all his efforts it led to this tragedy.

That brings me to the idea that when we look at justice we must always remember that justice must have compassion. I would not want to see the House pass any law that does not give the judge and the courts some discretion in looking at an entire situation, not just at the victim, in this case a child, but at the family of the accused when it is very clear that whatever sentence is coming down is not a question of deterrence. The individual did not want to do it in the first place and nothing would have compelled him to do it other than a psychological weakness.

On the other hand is rehabilitation. There is no doubt we certainly must have penalties but we have to apply the law with compassion.

There is a lot of valid criticism, but I think the weakness is when judges pass sentences that we know are inadequate for the crime, where there are no mitigating circumstances such as I have just described, when looking from the outside we see judges pass a sentence that is far too light for the circumstances of the crime, be it drunk driving, murder or sexual assault.

We just had a very recent incident in Toronto where a judge passed sentence on the most horrendous sexual assault case and most of us feel the sentence was far too light.

The problem is not just looking at the law and considering whether we should revise the penalties, which is what this motion proposes. Because it is moderate I cannot oppose that in principle. We also have to look at the question of who our judges are and how our judges come to be.

We are experiencing in society some serious reservations about the way we appoint judges, the way judges become judges. Our whole court system is predicated on the principle that the judge should be a person of great experience in life, of great integrity and of great professional experience.

It is widely felt across the country that perhaps the judges from the supreme court right down to the provincial court are not all they should be. That may be because of our current method of appointing judges. In many instances judges are political appointees.

I do not want to get into a debate about patronage. In some ways I think patronage is a very good thing, but when it comes to judges I have a great deal of reservation about judges being appointed by any aspect of the political process.

I suggest to my colleagues that if we want better quality judges so we can have better decisions in cases, be it drunk driving or be it supreme court decisions, we must set up a new regime for appointing judges.

Perhaps we need to look at a mechanism of independent appointment coming from perhaps the governor general, where the governor general examines the credentials of potential applicants and ultimately decides who should sit on the bench. Perhaps that would elevate the quality of judges so decisions made in crimes like drunk driving, murder or assault may combine common sense, deterrence, rehabilitation and compassion where necessary; not foolish compassion, not politically correct compassion, but compassion when it is appropriate and right.

I would not want to see our courts and laws become the laws of vengeance. Our courts and laws are there to make society better, to help individual citizens with genuine problems and to protect society where necessary. They are there to help not only the victims but the accused.

This may not be a popular position to take, but there you go, Mr. Speaker.

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3:50 p.m.


Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend was quite right. This is not a popular position to take.

I am sure he need not look to the House because he knows where most MPs stand on that question. I suggest he look outside the House, out there to real people land where people are seeing travesties of justice being committed every day in our courts across the country by appointed judges who tend to reflect the philosophy of the government of the day, whether it be federal or provincial. That is where we are going wrong.

The former minister of justice of this government clearly said in this House, as recorded in Hansard , that the priority of the justice system shall be the rehabilitation and reintegration into society of people convicted of crimes.

I find that philosophy to be absolutely in contrast to what my party and I believe. It is also in profound conflict with what the Canadian people think. The philosophy of the former Minister of Justice is being reflected by judges day after day after day. Not only that, but current sentencing is reflecting the desire of provincial and federal governments to cut costs in the prison systems to the detriment of Canadians by not putting people who break the law in jail but rather turning them out so they do not have to pay the costs of keeping them.

There is a fundamental wrong here. When a person commits a crime there must be consequences. Life is all about choices. We make some choices that are good and we carry on with our lives. Some people make choices that are very bad and they must pay the consequences of that.

I tend to think—and we may get to this in the justice committee some time during this Parliament—that if there is a way to ensure that judges sitting on the bench have only one goal in mind and that is to ensure true justice is given in their decisions I hope we find it. I hope the hon. member will contribute to the process of reaching that goal.

What we have now does not work. I do not believe the appointing of judges is the right way to go. It does not reflect the will of the Canadian people. I do not buy for a moment that the Canadian people simply want vengeance or revenge, but they do want justice.

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3:55 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, in reply to the member opposite, yes, they do want justice, but I think justice is always understood as having an element of compassion in it.

My concern about a debate on victims rights and so on is that it steers into the whole idea of vengeance. When a crime is committed one can actually set a fixed penalty that is absolute. We have to give discretion to judges. We have to give judges the opportunity to be compassionate.

I will leap to the defence of the former justice minister because I think he tried very hard to choose judges who were very well qualified. I had discussions along this line with him.

In criticizing the system I want to make it very clear that I was not criticizing the government or the former justice minister. I was pointing out that there are judges on the bench appointed by previous governments who have certainly not performed in an adequate fashion.

The system is flawed. The former justice minister would agree that a better way has to be found than relying on the political arm of government to choose judges. I hope that is the kind of debate we would have.

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3:55 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this motion moved by the official opposition, a motion which, all in all, needs a very serious analysis, given its implications for a society like Canada, and Quebec as well.

To situate the debate properly, the purpose of this motion is to require the government to bring forward a motion, pursuant to a Standing Order, to strike a legislative committee. We have seen the government bring in an amendment to this, in order to have the words “legislative committee” replaced by “the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights”. This, I believe, is an amendment that makes sense, since the committee already exists. Since the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is there precisely in order to study motions of this sort, it is obvious to me that this amendment needs to be made. We in the Bloc Quebecois approve of this amendment.

In addition, in order to limit the time period allowed the committee to consider the question, the government is making an amendment giving the committee until May 15, 1998 to submit its report to the House.

At first glance, the government appears to be paying careful attention to the motion tabled by the opposition in this House today for us to study this topical issue carefully.

Why are we now concerned with this issue, among others? Last week, a lobby group—and I use the word “lobby” not in its negative sense, quite the contrary, some lobbies in Canada do good work—known as MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, came to the House to meet members of Parliament. They submitted a report, which, in short, is very well done. However, as with any lobby, we must examine their report with a critical eye, but in a constructive manner.

When a lobby group of this sort submits a public survey, the results must be considered and statements in the report have to be acknowledged, but we must look at it with a critical eye. We must find out how and why the questions were asked, who paid for the survey, and so on.

What catches my attention about this survey is that it points out the same things already confirmed by the police, by groups who have studied the situation, among others, in the report about the national scourge of drinking and driving. I can immediately tell this lobby group and all those listening that the Bloc Quebecois also considers drinking and driving to be a scourge both for Canada and for Quebec. As legislators and elected officials, we must give very serious thought to this issue.

The main figures pointed out in this document, and it is important to recall them so that we have a fairly good idea of the situation, are that 94.3% of those surveyed think that driving while impaired is a problem that the government must eliminate. I am not surprised that the percentage is so high, given the seriousness of the problem, as I said earlier.

In addition, 74.7% of those surveyed think that the provincial and federal governments are not doing enough to reduce impaired driving. This may or may not be true, but one thing is certain—it depends on the question asked, I was not surveyed, you know it is sometimes easy to get people to say things over the phone, if the questions asked lead the person answering in one direction rather than other—there is no doubt that this is a high percentage of people who think that governments are not doing enough.

The committee that will be created, if the motion is passed by the House, will, I think, have to take a very serious look at this finding. Are the federal and provincial governments, which are responsible for the administration of justice, making a serious effort to stamp out impaired driving, or are they not? This is the question we will have to answer.

I will know more when we examine the issue, but it is interesting that 94.4% feel that Criminal Code amendments must be implemented and anyone involved in an accident causing death or serious injury obliged to provide a blood sample when requested to do so by the officer, as required by law.

Of those surveyed, 73% support a reduction in the level of alcohol from 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres to 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres, a reduction of 30 milligrams. This is sizeable. It seems, however, that over two-thirds of the population support this measure.

Another important point, one I am also anxious to be able to verify, is that 85% of those surveyed are in favour of amending the Criminal Code to stiffen the minimum prison sentence for any person who has caused death or bodily harm. In other words, a person who has an accident in which another person sustains physical injury or death would automatically receive a minimum sentence.

At the moment, we know that the Criminal Code stipulates a prison sentence, but it is a maximum of five years and judges are given some discretion. I will come back to the judges a little later.

There is one element which raises a big question mark for me, because I have read some of the survey questions and am a bit puzzled by them. It may be true, but it would need to be checked in committee. It is said that 90.2% of respondents support adoption of a declaration of victims' rights. What I would like to know is, what percentage of those surveyed knew what a declaration of victims' rights was, and what it included.

One thing is certain, the public is currently questioning the extremely important issue of drunk driving. Every week we read newspaper reports about accidents resulting in injuries and deaths. One need only check with the automobile associations in Quebec, Ontario or the other provinces, to see that the statistics are damning.

Does the reality really dictate that the legislator must be pushed into changing the legislative provisions on impaired driving? Perhaps. Or perhaps it is something other than the legislation that needs changing. The committee that will be struck can cast some light on this and report to the House.

One of the questions I have asked myself, particularly when I meet with the people from MADD, is what goes on in other countries, how do other countries deal with impaired driving. The maximum blood alcohol level allowed in the legislation when I was practicing law was .08. That is what it still is today. But I realy wondered about the proposal to reduce it to .05. I learned, however, when I looked into it, when I examined more closely the information submitted to us today, that .05 was the level already in Australia, Belgium, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, even France. So, this is perhaps not as extreme as it appears. Perhaps it is not such an exaggeration to consider a lower blood alcohol level in Canada and in Quebec, if that is what people want.

I have in fact noted a difference in the application of the rule of 80 mg per 100 ml in the blood, in Quebec and in other Canadian provinces.

However, nothing is ever all black or all white. Those who have followed the issue of drinking and driving, lawyers primarily, those involved in enforcing the law, know that, since 1985, a series of amendments have been made to the Criminal Code in an effort to solve the problem, to further discourage people, to focus on the target group, those most affected by drinking and driving. Since 1985, an attempt has been made to dissuade them in all sorts of ways, including through stiffer penalties and simplification of the job of the police.

Recently, it became possible to obtain a blood sample under certain circumstances, guidelines were given, the goal being to help police officers gather evidence to build cases and to discourage the public from drinking and driving. All this has taken place since 1985.

In the 35th Parliament, I remember the government members opposite presenting amendments to increase the maximum sentence in the case of people who had had an accident while impaired and who had injured or killed somebody in that accident.

The result is that today we must also take into consideration the provisions of the Criminal Code, and I think it useful to point these out so as to give people an overview of the situation. As it now stands, section 255 of the Criminal Code provides for the following sentences:

(1) Every one who commits an offence under section 253 or 254—driving while impaired—is guilty of an indictable offence or an offence punishable on summary conviction—

In legal jargon, a “summary offence” is less serious than an “indictable offence”. When someone is charged by way of indictment, the offence is much more serious, the person must be represented by a lawyer, and so forth, while someone tried by summary conviction is not required to be present at the hearing. It is a less serious offence.

It therefore reads:

—is liable,

(a) whether the offence is prosecuted by indictment or punishable on summary conviction, to the following minimum punishment, namely,

(i) for a first offence, to a fine of not less than three hundred dollars,

(ii) for a second offence, to imprisonment for not less than fourteen days, and

(iii) for each subsequent offence, to imprisonment for not less than ninety days.

A progression can be seen that no longer exists since these rules were passed. These are amendments made by the legislator over the years in the wake of certain rulings, certain developments in this issue, in order to increase the sentence and try to discourage the public.

(b) where the offence is prosecuted by indictment—

—to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

(c) where the offence is punishable on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.

(2) Every one who commits an offence under paragraph 253 ( a ) and thereby causes bodily harm to any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

(3) Every one who commits an offence under paragraph 253 ( a ) and thereby causes the death of any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

As you can see, the sentence is increased if it is a repeat offence, if the damage is greater, if the other party's injuries are more serious, or if someone dies as a result of an accident caused by an impaired driver.

What is being called for, and what we would like to see in the Criminal Code, I think, is a minimum. In other words, an impaired driver who has an accident gets, for example, a minimum of one year or two years in prison.

I see this as dangerous, though perhaps it is necessary, and I am not saying that it is not. Personally, I am telling you today that it may be dangerous because all discretion is being taken away from the court. We are taking away any way, any manner in which a properly informed judge, a judge who hears the evidence, a judge who sees the accused, a judge who is familiar with all the facts of the accident, could assess the case, as he could not do so if a minimum is set. Perhaps we will have to come to that, but only a very wise man could know the answer to that question today.

The opposition's motion, if passed by the House, will enable us to check whether setting a minimum for such an offence is really the right thing to do. That is one example. There may be other things that need examination. I heard one of my colleagues on the government side talking about the appointment of judges just now. Yes, there is that aspect, perhaps, but there may be something else, perhaps in terms of heightening the judges' awareness.

These days, I hear all sorts of things about remarks judges have made following a decision, remarks that have not always been so nice. I am not noising around the fact that I am in the same league, because I am not too proud of the remarks these people may have made.

Perhaps enhanced awareness is needed. Stiffer penalties in the Criminal Code are not necessarily the solution. All of this can be studied in committee. We can look at what exactly should be considered.

That said, we in the Bloc Quebecois have three points to make with respect to this motion. First, we acknowledge the importance of the problem raised by the motion presented by the official opposition. The motion deserves our support and very serious consideration in committee.

Second, the Bloc Quebecois supports the motion as amended by the government, which asks to present a motion to set up a standing committee to discuss the measures provided in the Criminal Code in order to correct and improve where possible the provisions pertaining to offences involving the consumption of alcohol and impaired driving.

Third, the Bloc Quebecois aware of the problem created by drunk driving considers that legislative study will concern the matter as a whole and not just the establishment of harsher penalties. We say “What's worth doing is worth doing right”. We will do it with assurance, and anyone looking at it afterward will have no cause for complaint. This is what I want to bring to the committee. If a committee is going to look at this, we must look not only at increasing the penalty, but at the whole issue from A to Z.

I would, however, caution this House, because we will be dealing with the administration of justice, which is not a federal matter but a provincial matter. We must be very careful in our review of these provisions to do a thorough, serious and detailed analysis in the area of federal jurisdiction. We will not stick our big mitts in the administration of justice. It is none of our business. The Bloc will be there to dot the i 's and cross the t 's, should the government decided to go a bit further.

I will conclude by saying that, in committee, I will have a series of questions to put to the people who will come to present their briefs, make comments on such violations and the changes that need to be made to the Criminal Code. I think we should also hear from police officers. We should seek their opinion on this question and on what they would like to see in terms of legislation, to get a feel for what their priorities are.

Finally, because I can see you signalling that I am running out of time, we indeed support this motion, as amended by the government. We support it because it will allow an informed debate on this question. We will then report to this House to enact the most useful legislation possible, legislation that may stop this scourge, which is—again, we agree on the terminology—a very terrible national scourge.

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4:15 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague of the Bloc. I do not often have occasion to congratulate my Bloc colleague on an excellent speech. This issue is so important that it must cross party lines. We must all try very carefully to avoid trying to make political capital out of it.

As my colleague said, it is a case that goes beyond simply increased penalties. It is not a matter of increased penalties. It is a matter of finding a solution that is more equitable for victims, for everyone who is involved in the tragedy of drunk driving. If it is a matter of changing the mechanism by which we appoint judges, so be it.

I take it from the remarks of my hon. colleague opposite that he agrees with me that in matters of justice, justice must be tempered with compassion. We can only have compassion in the courts if we give discretion to judges and we can only give discretion to judges if we have good judges.

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4:20 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, to hear the hon. member paying me compliments like that, I would be tempted to believe there is something fishy going on here.

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4:20 p.m.


Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

He is being generous.

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4:20 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

He is being generous. Perhaps he is generous and more practical than you, Madam.

But seriously, having sat on the justice committee with the hon. member who just made these remarks, I know that, on a number of occasions, in the interest of advancing certain issues, we have all set aside our political affiliations and petty partisan concerns. We have done so with various issues, and I am prepared to do so again today on this issue, which deserves the full attention of this House.

Before answering his last question, a word about the appointment of judges, which he mentioned. Indeed, we in the Bloc Quebecois believe that the appointment of all judges should be carried out in a much more enlightened, much more transparent fashion, as we requested when a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada was appointed, recently. Our call was not heard, and I hope the hon. member will pursue the matter on the government side so that we can eventually have legislation governing the appointment of judges to ensure it is carried out in a much more transparent fashion. And this extends beyond the office of the Prime Minister, who, with a stroke of the pen, decides who will be a justice of the supreme court or superior court. These are, after all, very important positions.

I believe they will eventually come around and share our views, as they have done regarding many other issues. After all, when it comes to certain issues, the Bloc and the province of Quebec seem to be 15, 20 or 30 years ahead of the government members sitting across from us.

The last question has to do with the compassion—I guess it is the right word—that judges can show when no minimum sentence is set. The word “assessment” could also be used. If we set a minimum sentence in a legislative provision—and I agree that such a minimum should be set in some laws—we remove any possibility for the judge to assess the facts before him.

I would not want to sit on the bench and to hear witnesses, including victims, describe a situation. Sometimes, the victims are not completely innocent. As I said earlier, things are not always black or white. I can imagine a judge saying: “Sir, I must sentence you to two years in jail, because the act requires me to do so. In the old days, I might have given you just six months, with a possibility of treatment in some institution, because you have a serious alcohol problem and because you have children”. This is another aspect which should not be overlooked.

Sometimes, five, six or seven children may depend on the individual. Is society better served by sending that person to jail and forcing the children to go on welfare? Is this the ultimate purpose of these changes? If so, I want no part of it.

The issue has to be reviewed very carefully if we want the judges to have a good understanding of the situation but also if we want to send a clear message to the population saying that no, it is not acceptable to drink and drive.

Yes, I am with you all the way on this; yes, you will find me by your side to further this issue, but I believe we must proceed carefully and analyze the situation in detail so that we will have the best legislation possible to fight against this scourge.

I am not sure that by having a minimum penalty of one, two, or three years, this will help achieve our objective, because I have never seen any study nor has any study ever been tabled showing that there is a direct link between increasing the penalty and seeing a decrease in repeat offences, or in the number of drunk driving cases, of thefts or anything else.

I think I am still part of the generation that is really committed to rehabilitation, prevention and education.

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4:25 p.m.


Gordon Earle NDP Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the comments made by my hon. colleague from the Bloc Quebecois. It is very important that we not allow the focus of this motion to be deterred by looking at the broader issue of justices and the appointment of judges.

While the hon. member on the opposite side has raised some valid concerns, that justice must be tempered with mercy, the examples that he cited earlier are among the minority of the tragic cases that we see resulting from drunk driving. I believe it is appropriate that the House agree on this motion and refer it for proper study to a committee so that those issues can be dealt with.

We should not get lost in the debate. By moving it to another level and talking about the appointment of judges is a different issue. It is important to keep the focus on what this motion is designed to deal with on behalf of the people who suffer the tragic results of drunk driving.

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4:25 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe that we should not steer away from the motion we are examining. But at this stage, everything is possible. If we really want to consider seriously this issue, we must absolutely not exclude anything.

Are the judges the ones who need education? Is it the procedure by which judges are appointed that can solve the problem? Is it stiffer penalties? Is it education? Is it allowing provincial legislation to deal more adequately with such or such an area? Personally, at this stage, I exclude nothing.

It will be up to the committee to carry out its work in a very independent and professional manner, and the Committee on Justice and Human Rights has shown on several occasions that it can do just that. When all the parties worked together and set politics aside, we have done wonders. I think we will be able once again to go over this issue very effectively and to table a very relevant report in this House.

But in reply to the member, yes, we must maintain a clear objective, which is to deal with the Criminal Code, if anything in it has to be dealt with, to achieve the ultimate objective which is to put an end to the problem of impaired driving. If we have to deal with the judges, we will do that. If we have to deal with something else, we will do that also. The committee will report to you, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure you will agree with us.

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4:25 p.m.


Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise you and the House that I will be sharing my time with the member for Mississauga South.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this motion. I do not think one of us in this House has not been touched by the tragedy of someone close to us being killed by a drunk driver.

Just to contemplate and hear about a dear friend, somebody who is working in the community, who is helping other people, who is a source of inspiration to her entire family and to everyone who knows her, suddenly vanishing from the face of this earth because a drunk driver came out of a side road and on to a main road and smashed right into her car. None of us has lived without experiencing receiving that kind of news and the senselessness of it, the helplessness of it, and the determination that we have to do something about it is our first reaction.

I want to congratulate MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Its members have done an absolutely phenomenal job in this past week of meeting with members of Parliament, of informing us, of putting together what they believe needs to be done to diminish this scourge on our population, to diminish the number of people of all ages who fall victim to drunk driving.

They have done a tremendous job of educating the public. They have done a tremendous job of surveying public opinion and making it clear to members of Parliament that Canadians from coast to coast want serious to action be taken on this soon.

This is an issue that I have some history with. When I was president of the Ontario Association of Municipalities I had the privilege of working with the attorney general at the time, the hon. Roy McMurtry. We set up a program for municipalities across Ontario to develop community action programs on drinking and driving. I set up a program in the city of Ottawa.

Things have changed a lot since the early eighties. Attitudes have changed a lot. At that time my children were in their teens or their very early twenties. It was very encouraging for me to see young people coming to a party at my home, bringing their sleeping bags, just in case they had something to drink and did not want to drive home or just in case their friends felt they should not drive home.

I remember living through a period of time with a friend who was a drinking alcoholic. This friend was coming to visit us regularly. We were trying to provide him with support. I suddenly realized that every night he visited us he was driving down my street, endangering my children and other children. At one point I said to my husband “Ron, you drive him home. You disable his car and do not let him drive again”. I told him that I would not ever again have him coming to my home, endangering someone else's life.

His distributor cap sat on the top of our refrigerator for a long time. I am pleased to say that for the last 20 years he has not had a drink.

I tell that story because one of the lessons I learned when I was involved with the drinking and driving task force in this region was that what we are dealing with is the problem of alcoholism. Fifty per cent of first time driving offences are committed by alcoholics. The end result of their history is often tragedy. Lives are lost.

I believe it is important for us to deal with the front end. The first time someone is apprehended, the first time they are convicted, that is when we have to take serious action. We have to recognize that half the people we are dealing with in those first convictions are alcoholics. If we do not deal with alcoholism, there will be a second and third conviction and a tragedy.

To demonstrate how important this point is, by the time someone is convicted a second time of drinking and driving we know there is a 90% chance they are an alcoholic. Ninety per cent of second offenders are alcoholics. Therefore losing a licence or spending time in jail is not enough to ensure that person will not get behind of the wheel drunk again.

We have to deal with alcoholism. We have to deal with it seriously. We have to ensure that person, convicted the first time, does not drive again until the alcoholism is dealt with. That is a very important and crucial step in preventing these tragedies.

That does not mean that we do not have to look at the other end and at what we do when a tragedy occurs and take much stronger action. We do, but we will always be dealing with the situation after the fact, after the tragedy, after the death, unless we deal with the first offence.

We must deal with the problem before that offence. That comes with the kind of responsibility which my children and their friends started taking for each other.

We must ensure that we do not pass this off as something light, unimportant and socially acceptable. We must each take the responsibility of confronting a friend, however difficult that may be, to say “I am sorry, but I will not let you get in your car. I will not drive with you if you insist on getting in your car”. That is the kind of responsibility we all have to take. That is why the last discussion was very interesting. It is not something that can be solved simply by tougher laws. We all want to prevent these tragedies, not just to punish after they happen. We hope we never have to punish. That is why it takes a combination of effort at this level, through the Criminal Code, at the provincial level, effort in our own communities and our own families.

I do not think there is one of us who does not know someone in our family or a friend or someone we work with who is an alcoholic. Every time we turn our backs on that and do not take the responsibility of confronting that alcoholism we contribute to the tragedies we are talking about today. We also have to take responsibility.

We also have to get over a hurdle. Training judges is a part of it. We used to say we have to educate young people, that if we educate young people the problem will go away. Young people learn their drinking habits somewhere. Young people learn their driving habits somewhere. Educating young people to solve a problem we have created is a nice way of getting out of our responsibility.

One place that I think we have to change attitudes, and I am not sure the courts have caught up with public opinion on this yet, is maybe a person is not responsible for a decision made while drinking but is responsible for the decision to drink. In my view, if that decision is made then automatically the decision is made to take responsibility for everything that person does after that first drink is taken.

Whether it is a case such as we saw in the courts where drunkenness was an excuse for raping a 78-year old woman, or whether it is a case of saying “I was too drunk to know what I was doing when I got into my car and drove”, I am sorry, but that is no longer acceptable. You take that responsibility when you take that drink.

It is a personal responsibility for all of us. Yes, it is changes in the laws and a combined effort of all levels of government, continuing and increasing our actions on substance and alcohol abuse throughout society, which is the source of most of these tragedies.

I never thought I would say this, but I am grateful to the Reform Party for bringing forward the motion today. I am anxious to see it get into committee where at least the federal responsibility can be dealt with and we can also initiate some major activity with the provinces, communities and people across the country to diminish this tragedy. I do not think we can ever put an end to it.

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4:35 p.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the intervention she made and the spirit with which she approached this subject. This has been a very emotional day for all of us who have been paying attention to this.

We have heard words such as vengeance, which is not acceptable here. I am inclined to agree with that. The Bible says “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord”. So I do not think we need to worry about that.

However, we somehow or other have to draw a line. I believe that in many respects drinking and driving is still acceptable to far too many Canadians. What I am interested in knowing is how can we draw the line in such a bold fashion so that people realize that drinking and driving is not acceptable.

I am aware of a family that lost a young man because his friend was driving drunk. The young man who was driving drunk got thrown in jail for manslaughter. There were two sad families as a result of this. That may be the way has to be.

What I would like to explore with the hon. member is maybe the line in the sand should be that if you drive while drunk you loose the privilege to drive forever. If you drive when drunk and kill someone, you have committed a crime like murder. One of the things you loose is your vehicle, which was the weapon used. Would the hon. member agree with that as drawing a line in the sand? People may then understand that drinking is not acceptable.

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4:40 p.m.


Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I guess the theme of my speech was that the line in sand has to be drawn much sooner and much earlier in the process which eventually leads somebody to kill on the highway.

Somebody knew that the young person the hon. member was talking about was drinking and driving and did not do anything about it. What we have suggested is that the whole issue be referred to a committee.

A tremendous amount of research has been done to look at the views of the experts as well as people who have been victims, people who have been involved in this and people in the justice system to find the most effective way.

The member and I both want the same thing, what is going to work most effectively. I hope he will forgive me if I do not jump to conclusions about what I hope will be the excellent results of the review by the justice committee on this issue and a very good package of recommendations to us.

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4:40 p.m.


Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member for Ottawa West—Nepean raised some personal experiences and I think we all have them. Every member who has risen in the House today has related some tragedy.

I know she talked about things improving, although I sometimes wonder. In my riding I had a family that had a very tragic experience. It involved a woman by the name of Joanne Perrotta. Both her brother and father were severe alcoholics. Her brother after a heavy night of drinking went out and ran into a transport truck in 1989 and was killed. Then Joanne, who was a non-drinker, was working late one night. On her way home she was broadsided by a drunk driver and was killed.

The next year her father was driving drunk, as he had done several times, ran over a motorcycle driver and killed him. This tragedy kept going on and on in that family.

I know there is a public education aspect that is very important. I wonder if the member would agree that a tough deterrent for those people who are hardcore is actually a good method of trying to solve this problem.

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4:40 p.m.


Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member has precisely made my point.

What we have to deal with is that alcoholism is the root cause of most of these tragedies. We have to deal with that. Somebody who is an alcoholic is not going to be deterred at that moment by knowing that he may spend three or six months in jail or loose his license. This just is not going to happen.

We have to deal with the alcoholism. That person should not be allowed to drive until they have been sober for a period of time where one can say this person is a recovering alcoholic. The point also is that there are probably several hundreds of people who knew those drivers, who knew that they regularly drove drunk and did nothing about it.

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4:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Waterloo—Wellington, Agriculture.