Madam Speaker, I rise in support of this motion. In many ways I am very moved to be speaking on it today.
Intoxication should not be an excuse for anything. It should not be an excuse for sexual assault, for death or for murder. We should not be accepting any level of blood alcohol content as an excuse.
I do not think anyone should be allowed to drink and drive. Therefore, my hard line is that we do not have any level that anyone can say there is room for error. You cannot drink and then drive.
As long as we say drinking is all right, we will be facing the tragedy that has happened over the last 30 to 40 years. When people drink their decision making is impaired. It is impaired as to whether they decide to drive. It is impaired as to whether they decide to have another drink or another 10 drinks and then drive. They should not have any discretion in that area.
In deterrence, if we are going to look at preventive measures, then we have to have it at all levels.
The Yukon had a Youth Empowerment and Success Program that was cut, I learned today, by the federal government. This dealt with the very area in Yukon where there is a large percentage of drinking and driving: the youth. Pulling out this strategy to prevent drinking and driving or other drinking related abuses is now not available.
National statistics show males between the ages of 25 and 35 are the drivers behind the wheels of those vehicles. Therefore, we should not allow advertising that glamorizes the drinking lifestyle, that everybody is happy as long as they have a bottle of beer beside them.
When it comes to our judicial system I think our judges should have discretion. I would like to say “Yes, let us just take away their vehicles and that will solve the problem”, except that the rest of the family may depend on that vehicle and someone's employment may depend on that vehicle. Therefore, we are causing others to suffer who should not suffer because of an individual's decision to drink and drive.
Our judicial system should have a process for appointing judges. If we want discretion we need to know whose discretion and how they got into those positions of trust.
When it comes to enforcement, we have to know that the RCMP are not letting their friends go when they stop them for drinking and driving. We have to know that the RCMP are well enough staffed so that at the peak hours when people drink and drive, between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m., they are there to stop them.
My city of Whitehorse has two RCMP on duty through the night. That is not adequate to deal with drinking and driving, among the other responsibilities that they have to take on. If we are serious about deterrence, we need to be prepared to give the resources to the RCMP so that they can deal with drinking and driving.
When I grew up in the Yukon, as a teenager it was still legal to drink in public. It was legal to drink and drive. That was just over 20 years ago. Public attitude has changed dramatically since that time. You can no longer drink in public and you can no longer drink and drive. But the attitude still is prevalent, as it is elsewhere in Canada, that it is all right to drive and to drink.
I commend my colleague across the floor for describing what it took for her to make a stand and not let her friend drink and drive. By doing that in our daily lives we will make changes.
I also believe once someone has transgressed, once they have driven drunk more than once, we do not need to give leniency any further. At that point we should take away the vehicle or there should be a substantial fine and there should not be available legal loopholes to avoid the guilt of what someone has done.
I will finish with my own story on this issue. In Yukon in the early seventies it was a different atmosphere. I was in a boat with my father who had been drinking. The boat tipped. After I watched my father drown, I swam to shore. That left my mother, who had a part-time job, to raise eight children. Drinking and driving is not a statistic for me. I thought after many years you come to grips with trauma of that nature. It is not easy and it does stay with us.
I am honoured to have the opportunity to speak on this debate. It is our chance to make a statement to our fellow Canadians that this matter will be taken seriously and we will not allow drinking and driving. If you are going to drink and operate any motorized vehicle, you are responsible for your actions. We will hold you responsible but we will also show compassion. I believe that is why we are here.
For those reasons, I support this motion.