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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12:05 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario


Andy Mitchell LiberalSecretary of State (Parks)

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to rise in debate today on what I believe is a very, very important subject for all of us in this House and of course for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

I would like to congratulate the member opposite for proposing this motion. Even in a very small way the fact that we will spend the day debating this hopefully being watched by several thousands of Canadians, perhaps if that will give somebody the opportunity to have a second thought about getting behind the wheel of a car tonight, then that in itself is important. Of course the whole subject is important.

I am the father of a 16 year old who is going through the process of learning how to drive. I am trying to convey the reality and the vulnerability of a young person, to convey the horror that too many of us have felt when our friends were hurt or killed in needless traffic accidents. Trying to convey that to our young people so that they understand that is indeed a challenge. As a father I know it is shared by parents right across the country to try to convey the importance of that.

Drinking and driving, the abuse of alcohol is a tragedy that too many times is visited upon Canadians and their families. I concur with the intent behind this motion. It is absolutely essential as a Parliament, as a society, and as individual Canadians, that we address this issue. We need to make progress.

I know it has been talked about already in this debate and some people have agreed with it and others have not put as much emphasis on it, but indeed the problem is complex. It involves many things. We need to understand why generally responsible people will sometimes be very irresponsible in their use of alcohol and the activities they choose to partake in, like driving after they have had too much to drink.

It is a complex problem and as a complex problem it is going to require complex solutions. There are going to be solutions that involve the things that are brought forward in this motion. It is going to involve items like changes to the Criminal Code. It is going to involve things like penalties. That is important. Deterrents indeed are important. But the problem, the situation and indeed more important, the solutions go beyond just that, although that is important.

We need to deal with the whole idea of education, as I opened my speech talking about my own personal situation. We need to talk about the whole issue of education. We need to make sure that people understand, particularly our young people as they are beginning in life and are having to cope with new pressures and new responsibilities. They must understand exactly what the costs are and what the responsibilities are for them.

The whole issue of enforcement is important. It is not good enough simply to have the laws on the books. If there are no means to enforce those laws, then we will not have moved toward a solution.

There is also the issue of societal attitude. It is absolutely essential that we continue what I believe to be progress over the last generation in a change in societal attitude. It is no longer an acceptable social practice to drink an excessive amount of alcohol and get behind the wheel of a vehicle. That is simply not acceptable. When people have an opportunity to interact with each other, society should provide a negative sanction against that type of activity.

I recall that I was going to a reception one evening a short time ago and my nine year old daughter asked who the designated driver was going to be. That is a sign of how society is changing and how our school system is trying to get that type of education brought forward so that the upcoming generation will understand and will be responsible in their use of alcohol. That is a very, very important part of what we need to do as a society in order to address this very difficult problem.

It is also very critical as parliamentarians approach this subject, that we understand there is a broad range of individuals and groups in society that need to come together to work on this problem. Obviously, as parliamentarians we have a very specific role. We also need to work with our provincial counterparts who have the responsibility for prosecution and enforcement of the rules and regulations governing drinking and driving.

As I mentioned, we need to work with the education system to make sure it is working in getting the point across. We need to work with organizations like MADD and other groups that have worked very diligently to raise the awareness and profile of the issue. We need to work with groups in our individual constituencies that have specific roles, such as the boating and snowmobile clubs. These are areas where similar tragedies take place because of drinking and driving. Together we need to move toward solutions.

Members have mentioned that we as a government as well as society have implemented steps in this regard. It was in the 1920s when operating a vehicle while impaired became a criminal offence. Since that time there have been changes in the Criminal Code which have enhanced the prohibition of this activity and which have enhanced the penalties.

I heard the Minister of Justice in a reply to a question the other day make a very clear commitment to the House that she will continue to work along those lines. We as parliamentarians have a role to play in that. We need to work with the Department of Justice and others and move toward improving solutions.

Speaking as the representative for Parry Sound—Muskoka, my riding faces a problem similar to many areas, although it has its own particular and unique nature. There are approximately 80,000 residents in that area and in the summer it attracts roughly 60,000 seasonal residents, people who choose to have summer homes there. On a long weekend in the summer there could be an extra 100,000 or 150,000 visitors to the area. The whole issue of responsible recreation is critical and important in an area such as Parry Sound—Muskoka.

I mentioned a minute ago the whole issue of boating safety. It is surprising sometimes that an individual driving the 400 km to come to my area would never for a moment think of having a drink when they got behind the wheel of their car and drove up the highway but then would think nothing of having that drink and operating a boat. That is why I say societal attitudes and societal changes are so important. It has to be as inappropriate to get behind the wheel of a motorized boat as it is to get behind the wheel of a car. That is something where education plays an important role. I am pleased to note that within my riding of Parry Sound—Muskoka there is a wide coalition of individuals and groups working on the whole issue of boating safety, and obviously a big component of that is to not operate a boat.

Two years ago in this House on a Friday morning with the consent of all the parties, the Reform Party, the justice critic whom I had an opportunity to work with, and the Bloc and its justice critic, we passed amendments to the Contraventions Act in one day. Although it does not deal directly with the issue of impaired boating, it dealt with the whole issue of regulations and increased enforcement on our waterways to protect boating safety. That is a small example of things that we have been able to do in this House and something that has a very direct impact on Parry Sound—Muskoka and of course other ridings that have large amounts of water. I was pleased to be able to have a role in seeing that take place. It was something that my predecessor, Stan Darling, who had sat in this House for 21 years, had worked on before.

Also on the issue of recreation in an area like mine in the winter we have the whole issue of snowmobiling. Again we have a motorized vehicle that requires people to be operating them safely and obviously sober. The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs has worked diligently with snowmobile owners and snowmobile clubs over the last several years to educate their membership as well as to make it clear that as a society we do not accept operating a snowmobile while impaired. It actually introduced a program called sled smart where it works with the clubs and with individuals to ensure this does not happen.

In a rural area like mine I must give credit to the Ontario Provincial Police and the detachments in my riding and the officers of those detachments who work diligently on the issue of education and enforcement to ensure that the tragedies we all too often hear about are reduced. I do commend those officers, the work they do within the schools and the work they do in terms of enforcement. I know they, who all too often are the first ones on the scenes of those tragedies, are trying to do all they can to reduce this problem.

Of course in my role as the Secretary of State for Parks, we have a role in the park system to ensure there is not an abuse of alcohol. Our park wardens work diligently oftentimes with local enforcement agencies to ensure that there is responsible consumption of alcohol. There are times during the year when we feel it necessary to put bans on alcohol consumption within our parks. I am committed in my role as Secretary of State for Parks to ensure that we continue that diligence, that we continue to work toward preventing the inappropriate use of alcohol.

This is a critical issue for all of us in this House. In summarizing, I again thank the member opposite for bringing this motion forward because I think it is important to have this debate.

I want to leave the House with one thought. Although the contents of the motion are good and describe part of what we need to do in terms of the solution, let us not lose sight of the other part of it. Let us not lose sight of what the boating community is doing and needs to do in terms of prevention. Let us not lose sight of what the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs is doing. Let us not lose sight of what the Ontario Provincial Police are doing. Let us not lose sight of the actions that we need to take at Parks Canada to make sure this abuse is not allowed. Let us make sure that we deal with the totality of the problem. That is not to suggest that any part is less important than the next, but we must deal with the overall issue.

I feel strongly about this and I am sure my colleagues feel strongly about this. I look forward to arriving at a solution and making progress on this important issue.

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12:20 p.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. secretary of state for his remarks and for bringing into the discussion the issues of boating and snowmobiling. I can relate very well to those issues. I was out in the middle of Howe Sound on a 35-foot sailboat when a high powered motor boat played chicken with us to see how close he could come to the side of our boat before he had to steer away. There is a good deal of threat in that. I am pleased that the secretary of state has widened the issue.

There was an element of his speech that I would like to draw to the attention of the House, the statement that Canadians find it unacceptable to drink and drive. A lot of Canadians do, but far too many do not.

I do not want to depend too much on statistics, but my hon. colleague from Edmonton pointed out that over 65% of those who have been charged with impaired driving are repeat offenders. It seems to me that there are not enough Canadians who understand how serious it is to get behind the wheel of a car or a boat after having consumed alcohol.

I would like to test the secretary of state. Is putting yourself in the position where you can threaten, injure or kill another person acceptable under any circumstance? That draws it out a bit more starkly. If he agrees with me that it is not acceptable under any circumstance, what lengths would he go to to prevent that by putting something into legislation for the Canadian people?

Would it be appropriate, for example, if someone committed a crime, homicide, and used their vehicle to commit the crime, to confiscate it? If the vehicle was used in the commission of a crime, would that be acceptable?

Would it be reasonable to say to someone who has been accused of drunk driving that they will never drive again? They have taken the privilege of driving and made it their right. That is not acceptable. Therefore they will not have that privilege any longer. Would that be within the scope of possibility to prevent the mayhem that is taking place?

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12:20 p.m.


Andy Mitchell Liberal Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his questions.

On the first point, quite frankly, if there is one person who thinks it is acceptable to get behind the wheel and drive while impaired, that is one person too many.

Our objective as a society and as parliamentarians is to ensure that we move as closely as possible to it not being acceptable to any Canadian.

I am a realist. I do not know if we can ever reach that zero number. If there is one person who thinks it is acceptable, that is one person too many.

Whether it is acceptable that somebody places at risk somebody else through their inappropriate action, in this case we are talking about getting behind the wheel of a boat or a car or driving a snowmobile impaired, of course it is not.

We have to deal with two components of that issue. We are trying to do two things. One, as a society we are saying to that individual that it is inappropriate and as a society we are going to apply a sanction against them for doing that. We need to do that. I think society at large wants to make that point.

We are also trying to make sure the person does not do it in the first place or that the next person does not do it in the first place.

When I talked about the need to have a broad based solution that contains various components, that is what I am saying. As a society we have to make clear what we consider to be a penalty in the Criminal Code and say that is not acceptable. That is not good enough. It is important but we have to do more than that. We have to take measures so that the next person or the person after that does not get behind the wheel or does not get into a boat. We must do both things. That is the objective.

I thank the hon. member for his question and the opportunity to make those points.

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12:25 p.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree that whatever can be done to prevent this from ever beginning is all good and right. If this were part of the ingredients of one's mother's milk, I would be in favour of it, that we grew up with the attitude in our communities that people just do not drive after they have been drinking. I think that would be wonderful. I am in favour of that. I am in favour of the education. I am in favour of family attitudes and fostering everything that will do this.

I want to push the member again to the questions I asked. For those who insist on breaking the law and putting themselves in a position where others can be killed or injured, would he be in favour of confiscating the vehicle after the first offence? Would he be in favour of saying to that person they have violated their privilege and will not drive again, these are the rules we have?

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12:25 p.m.


Andy Mitchell Liberal Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not disagree with what the member is saying. I have often said in the House that one of the important things we need to do as a society is ensure people understand there are consequences for messing up. If you get behind the wheel of a vehicle or some other motorised apparatus and you operate it in an impaired state, you should realize quite clearly that you are going to pay a price for doing that. Society is going to provide a negative sanction, a penalty to you.

I hope we have the opportunity over the next few months to discuss the most appropriate way to do that and the most appropriate penalty. We need to analyse that and look at it carefully. Should it be the same in every instance? Is every instance the same? Perhaps it is. Perhaps there should be some discretion. I remain with an open mind to look at exactly what that should be.

I unequivocally agree with the member. If somebody knowingly places somebody at risk by operating a vehicle or some other motorised apparatus in an impaired state, I think most members would agree society is justified in applying a sanction.

The hon. member has outlined various options that need to be looked at. We have some on the books now and an examination of what can be added is appropriate, something I hope we undertake.

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12:30 p.m.


Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, before I get into my speech I wish to inform the Chair that I will be splitting my time with the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.

I am privileged to stand here in support of the motion of the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley.

As I studied politics and took an interest in politics in Canada and around the world, I realized one thing. People who are elected to govern or sit in opposition have one primary responsibility that overrides all else. It is for the safety and well-being of its law-abiding citizens.

That is what we are trying to do today. We are trying to form a motion that can proceed and pass in this House in order to protect the legal, law-abiding citizens in our country.

We all know, from the things that have been said so far, that tragic things are happening to individuals and to families right across Canada because of criminals who drink and drive. I call them criminals because I want everybody to recognize one thing, that making the decision to drink and drive, whether it is a boat, a car or an airplane, is like picking up a weapon. It is a life threatening act which could kill or maim the driver, the passengers, other drivers and their passengers. It can ruin the lives of their families and friends who must deal with the tragedy. It can possibly affect many innocent bystanders.

I am going to get a little personal on this issue. I was not going to. Normally I like to speak to everybody involved on anything that is personal. I have not had time to speak to my wife because I was not going to bring personal happenings into this today, but I think I must.

When I was 23 years of age, my wife then was 18, I was on the way to the wedding of my future brother-in-law. My job was to pick up the flowers to take to the wedding. Another brother-in-law of mine was in the car too. On the way a vehicle turned into our path. I was the driver of our vehicle. John, my brother-in-law, was the passenger.

At the time of impact I remember seeing a small child come through the window of the vehicle that hit us. I will always remember seeing the impact of that child on the hood of my car. That is the last thing I remembered for a long time. I was in the hospital for nine months. My pancreas was ripped and my liver was ripped off and my career was changed forever.

My wife Cis spent many months, because of under-insurance of the other driver involved, picking strawberries and fruit in order to be on the coast—because we were from the interior—to stay with me through all of this.

I never got a chance to really talk to the other driver. Alcohol was involved. The other driver had been drinking but not enough to be charged with impaired driving. The child involved was his grandson. That child lived but was in a coma for 19 or 21 days. The child was left a paraplegic.

Did this accident have to happen? No. When the driver, the grandfather, was asked about this, he said he could give no reason for turning into our vehicle at that time. It was a straight highway. He did not know why he turned into it. I have often wondered about that. He had been drinking at a function and he had left there to drive home with his grandson. I wondered then as I wonder now if different laws had been in place whether that child would be better off than he is today. It is quite possible. Would that grandfather have to go through the pain that he probably goes through every day now when he looks at his grandson?

One has to take all of that into consideration. My heart goes out to the families of these tragedies. Last year, just outside of Vernon where I am from, three young women from Okanagan—Shuswap decided to drive home after an evening's entertainment in Kelowna, a neighbouring community. They had gone only a few miles before they turned into the path of a logging truck. All of them were killed. Now their families, friends and loved ones have to deal with that. It is almost impossible to deal with that type of tragedy. This is all because we have a system in the country which allows judges to interpret our laws when it comes to impaired driving.

This happens in my constituency and I know it happens in other constituencies. It happens every day. As the hon. member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley stated when he spoke to the motion, 4.5 Canadians are killed every day due to impaired driving and many thousands a year are left as paraplegics or have to suffer other consequences.

It was just last week that the Mothers Against Drunk Driving visited the Hill. Its members wanted the public to become aware of a random poll which they asked the Canadian people at large. It is interesting to find out, in answer to the question: Should a driver be convicted of impaired driving causing death, would you strongly support or strongly oppose a minimum jail sentence?, that 47.9% answered they would strongly support minimum a jail sentence for impaired driving causing death, and another 37.6% answered they would support it. This adds up to a total of 85.5% who would either support or strongly support a minimum sentence.

This should send a message to us here. These are the people who pay our wages. These people put their trust in us to make the laws that will protect them. That is our job and our obligation. I believe that if we in the House work together, we can live up to that trust.

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12:40 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his comments. I know the member well and he is a sincere and hard working member of Parliament.

This opposition motion asks that a committee look at the issue of impaired driving. It asks for two things, enhanced deterrence, and to ensure that the penalties reflect the seriousness of the offence. I do not believe that there are very many people in the House who do not believe that the deterrent elements should be appropriate, given the seriousness of the issue. And I certainly do not think that members in the House would disagree that the penalties should reflect that seriousness.

Since the member raised the issue, I want to deal with the consequences. We know that something like 45% of automobile collisions and injuries are because of the misuse of alcohol. We also know that 65% of snowmobile collisions and injuries are caused by the misuse of alcohol.

When a drunk driver kills a pedestrian, that pedestrian did not die because of alcohol, he or she died because of trauma. Statistics in Canada probably understate the seriousness.

I thank the member for the comments he made. I think he should elaborate a little bit on the fact that the consequences are not simply to the person who misused the alcohol and the victim who may be involved, but it affects all of us because we all know someone who has been touched by a preventable tragedy caused by the misuse of alcohol.

Perhaps the member would like to comment on this and the ripple effect of pain and suffering and loss, tangible and intangible that all Canadians feel.

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12:40 p.m.


Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

There is hardly anyone today who has not been affected in one form or another by the misuse of alcohol.

The survivors and some victims have to live with this forever. I can speak on that from a personal point of view. I do not think a week or even two days or nights go by that the memory of that child does not flash into my mind. I can never get rid of it. I have to live with that.

My wife lives with the fact that her career changed at that time also. She chose to give up a well paying job and career advancements in order to be by my side in the Haney hospital. While it affected us to a great extent, I cannot imagine what that child's grandparents had to live with for the rest of their lives. My brother-in-law John was another victim of that accident. He sustained head injuries in the accident that he still suffers with today.

An accident does not just affect the people who are involved, there are lot more victims that we hear nothing about. We pay far too little attention to them when we make some of the decisions in this place.

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12:45 p.m.


Reed Elley Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak in support of the motion before the House. In my opinion the motion is long overdue. Canadians have been looking for this for a long time. It certainly deserves the support of members on both sides of the House.

My good friend from Prince George—Bulkley Valley brought this motion to the floor of the House in the spring of this year when the election came along and intervened. I respectfully ask that we as members of the House of Commons dispense with all our partisan beliefs in this regard and pass the motion.

The subject before us transcends all the political differences we might have and should unite us in a common cause. The motion is not reflective of any particular political party or party ideology. It is an effort that seeks only to protect Canadians. Nothing more and certainly nothing less is being asked for.

We have all heard the horror stories associated with drinking and driving. Some members have already shared their stories with us. The yearly carnage which is altogether senseless and tragic must come to an end.

I happened to make a decision a number of years ago to abstain from alcohol. Part of my reasoning was that I did not want to be responsible for passing along something to my children which perhaps I could handle but which they could not. I certainly did not want to get into the situation where I was responsible for taking the life of another person while drinking and driving.

Abstinence is still the best preventive. However we have freedom of choice in the use of this legalized drug. People will continue to choose to drink. Unfortunately some will choose to drink and drive.

I do not delude myself into believing that the passage of the motion will stop people from dying in these kinds of accidents. However it will go a long way toward giving the family and friends of victims some semblance of closure and the notion that justice was served.

The greatest value of this initiative may be in its deterrent value to new drivers. Indeed they are the ones who need to be educated at an early age on the perils of driving while impaired. Those who unfortunately are repeat offenders would only likely be stopped by some kind of punitive sanction such as a stiffer sentence.

Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving tell us that the status quo in sentencing can no longer be tolerated.

There have been far too many tragedies. We have buried too many loved ones. As the father of eight children, every time they go out in a vehicle at night I pray to God they will come home safely. It is not because I am worried they will be drinking and driving. It is the other person who is out there that I am worried about.

In 1967 my wife's sister, at 21 years of age and newly married, was driving down a road in Victoria, British Columbia, with her husband. A drunk driver went through a stop sign and broad sided their car. She was thrown out on to the pavement, hit her head and had severe brain damage. She went into a coma for three months. She lost the use of one of her legs and one of her arms. Miraculously she has regained a large measure of the use of those limbs, but today she still lives with the consequences of that accident. Her marriage dissolved. She limps. She has constant pain. That driver got off with a $500 fine and a slap on the wrist in 1967. That is not acceptable, not at all.

It has been said before by the survivors of these kinds of accidents, and it deserves to be said again, that victims should not be paying the penalty for impaired driving.

Here is some information that shows how much of a problem driving while impaired has become. In 1992 an Ottawa Sun editorial pointed out that over 13,000 people that year were killed or injured because someone drove while impaired.

In 1994, 1,414 were killed as a result of impaired driving. This is roughly three times the number of people murdered in Canada every year, but one could argue that this is essentially the same thing. Does it matter whether one holds a gun to the head of someone and shoots it or whether one is out there driving a car while drinking?

I ask my colleagues to think about that number, 1,414. If this Chamber were made four times larger it would not hold all those people. In 1993, 565 of the 1,315 people who died on Ontario roads were involved in alcohol related accidents.

I also want to share some additional information with colleagues as it relates to the cost of drinking while driving, while intoxicated. By cost I refer to the price in lives and suffering as well as monetary. Some 4.5 Canadians are being killed by impaired drivers each day. That is one every six hours according to studies by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation of Canada. It also found that impaired drivers caused over half of Canada's 3,300 road fatalities in 1995. This means the chances of being killed by an impaired driver are three times greater in Canada than being killed as a result of homicide.

Fatalities are not the only sad statistic. In 1993 a Transport Canada study revealed that over 300 Canadians each day are being injured as a result of an alcohol related crash. In addition, these injuries and fatalities effect not only the victims but society as a whole.

In 1989 Transport Canada found that the minimum losses to society total $390,000 per fatal crash. That figure represents the loss in terms of income, property damage and related cost to health care.

We must bring justice to the families of victims and stiffen the sentencing of offenders. Members in the Chamber need not take my word that Canadians find the situation intolerable. In the recently released paper prepared by MADD and alluded to by my colleague, we have all the reasons Canadians believe the penalties should be stiffer. Canadians have spoken and we as parliamentarians who represent them need to act.

I close on that note. Again I urge members to put aside partisan politics and vote in support of the motion for the good of the country.

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12:50 p.m.


John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me thank all members who have spoken today in favour of the motion. In the last parliament a similar motion was brought forward. I was very honoured to have seconded it.

We have heard some very moving personal tragedies today. I am sure every one of us have some to share. A resident in my riding, a Mr. MacRae who worked in the greater Ottawa area, was unfortunately hit on one of the major highways. It was a head on collision with another driver who was intoxicated. His life was suddenly taken away. He left a young wife and a young child whose futures were taken away from them.

The member just gave one example of an incident. I believe it was a $500 fine and a slap on the hand. That is ridiculous.

We have a problem. We could bring forward all the laws we want, and I think we should, but an area of enforcement has to unfold. This is where we sometimes lose the game. Most recently we heard of the Stuckless case in the greater Toronto area. Thirty or forty young kids were abused during their early lives. The gentleman was literally given a slap on the hand.

Was it because the law was not there? The law is there. There are rules but the enforcement side is an area we somehow have to address as well.

Does the member have any ideas that could be brought forward to enforce these laws, to make sure the penalties are enforced and to send a message saying that the laws are there? We could change the law, implement the law and bring forward motions, but unless they are enforced the tragedies a previous speaker referred to will go on and on. They are slaps on the hand.

We have to send a signal to the judges out there. They have a job to do. They have a responsibility. Unless judges are told in black in white that they must enforce the law as stated, we could bring in all kinds of the changes and nothing will happen.

Does the hon. member have any suggestions on how to enforce the rules and the laws we are trying to bring forward?

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12:55 p.m.


Reed Elley Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and comments. In a great sense he has answered his own question. I agree with him wholeheartedly that we have a system of justice. The laws are in place. The judges are there but unfortunately they very often do not enforce the law.

Canadians have to scream for this to happen. It will take public opinion and pressure by parliamentarians and others to make it to happen.

The laws are there. They are not being enforced. We cannot have these slaps on the wrist any more. It sends a signal to every young person that it is okay to drink and drive. It is not acceptable.

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12:55 p.m.


Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the speaker opposite. This is a very serious and important problem as it affects Canadians.

As former chairman of Waterloo Regional Police we took very seriously the whole issue of drunk driving and the results that would occur for people in that position. We ensured we had good programs in place, for example RIDE and other methods to ensure enforcement was there.

Does the hon. member believe additional enforcement on the part of police services across Canada would be useful to help ameliorate this devastating problem?

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12:55 p.m.


Reed Elley Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

There is no doubt in my mind that we have to get behind our police forces. I talked to RCMP officers in my riding. There are disheartened not only by the problems we have with the enforcement of drunk driving laws but by the manpower problem. There is a problem with the justice system and judges letting people off after the police have worked hard to try to bring people to justice.

It is a very serious problem. I would wholeheartedly support the hon. member's statements. We have to support our police.

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12:55 p.m.


Elinor Caplan Liberal Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe the debate we are having today is an important one because I do not think there is anyone in the country, certainly no one in the riding of Thornhill that I know, who would condone anyone driving when drunk. I do not think they would condone them driving an automobile. I do not think they would condone them driving any motorized vehicle.

When we drive we have an obligation to ensure that we have knowledge of the vehicle, are trained and our judgment is unimpaired. We know that these vehicles can kill.

I want to begin my remarks by congratulating the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, MADD, as its members are referred to, for the wonderful work they have done in raising public consciousness over the years on this important issue. I also want to congratulate all the members of the House in all parties who have stated very clearly that this is a non-partisan issue.

As we address this issue of driving while drunk, it is important to note that across the country it is not just the Criminal Code which is responsible for the deterrence and the punishment for those who drive while drunk. Every province has a responsibility. The provinces have the responsibility for enforcement of the Criminal Code. The provinces also have responsibility for the highways within their jurisdictions.

As a member of the Ontario legislature for 12 years I am aware of the progress that the province of Ontario has made. I am also very aware on a personal level of the tragedies that have occurred.

I sat in the legislature on the day that it was announced that the tragic loss of the son of the now Treasurer of Ontario was as a result of an alcohol related accident. While I may have had my differences with the hon. member, I want the House to know, that I and every member of that legislature felt and empathized not only with the tragic loss but with the senselessnes and its preventability.

More recently we were aware of the news that the son of a cabinet minister in Ontario had been charged with driving while impaired. The thought that went through my mind was when will we ever learn.

I come to this House not only as a parliamentarian with significant experience in the legislature in the province of Ontario after serving on municipal council for six and a half years, and I am a mother of four children. The youngest is now 25. I remember how I felt when each of them got a driver's licence. I remember discussing with each and every one of them the responsibility they had when they got behind the wheel of a car. I remember discussing with them the responsibility they had when they saw a friend of theirs who should not be getting behind the wheel of a car.

I remember discussing with them the support they would receive from their family and from their friends, but particularly from my husband and I, if they took a taxi home and left the car if they had had a drink.

For those who say that these tragedies can be prevented and we should be doing something about it, I agree. I think that the deterrents in the Criminal Code and the penalties and the enforcement of the Criminal Code are only one part of the solution.

Certainly education and treatment for those with alcohol problems are all part. The raising of consciousness of this issue over the last many years has resulted in significant progress being made. Certainly progress is being made in public consciousness and awareness.

I was very disappointed when the courts struck down the Ontario law brought in by a Conservative government that said that if you failed or you refused to take a breathalyser test that you would have your licence revoked for 90 days. I thought it was a good law and a good deterrent. I am pleased that the government is appealing that decision. It is my hope that law will be found to be constitutional.

We have to find ways to keep the public informed of the importance that legislators, parliamentarians and the public who are interested in public safety, hold this important issue.

I also want to say how very proud I am of the responsiveness of the Liberal government. There has been a firm and clear commitment from the Minister of Justice to raise this issue with her counterparts, the attorneys general. We know that the solicitors general are also very interested in the whole issue of drunk driving. I am proud to be part of a government with ministers who have made that commitment.

The importance of that commitment speaks to the nature of this country. It is not just an issue for the federal Criminal Code. It is an issue that requires a national strategy, a national interest and certainly discussions and action by all of the provinces across Canada.

In the short time that I have been here, I have learned the importance of working with the provinces and getting the support of the provinces for federal initiatives. I also believe this is in the national interest since this is a federation, but I also believe it is in the interest of the issue.

I want to go on record today as saying that I do not believe that a consensus is unanimity. We do not require unanimity in order to take action. I believe we can move the yardstick further if we can achieve a consensus among the provincial partners that have responsibility enforcement of the Criminal Code. We know that enforcement takes resources. If they do not dedicate the resources we do not get the kind of enforcement that we need. Therefore, it is a partnership.

We also know the public policy which is in the provincial jurisdiction. I only mentioned Ontario but I know other provinces have also taken initiatives. We know how important it is for the provinces to be able to share that information and for us to be able to target our resources at what is going to be the most effective way of achieving our goal which is the reduction of impaired driving incidents, accidents and loss of life.

If that is the goal we all share then it is important to make sure that we have the research, the data, the information which will allow us to frame our policies in the most effective way.

It is important to note that the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, TIRF as it is called, is a facility database for Transport Canada. That data is very important if we are going to not only evaluate our programs but also to see the progress that we are making in achieving our goal. The Traffic Injury Research Foundation collects data from across this country and that data is very important.

Similarly, and I speak again from my perspective of Ontario, we know the work of the Addiction Research Foundation. It is a world leader in policy development, research, prevention strategies and, yes, treatment. That is an important part of this issue as well.

It is important that a matter such as this brings all of those together. The most appropriate lead is with the Minister of Justice. She has expressed interest and made a commitment in the House and to MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

I also believe there is a role for the parliamentary committee on justice to play. Standing committees can help frame policies which will impact and help to achieve our goal of a safer society. I hope we will have an opportunity over the coming years to discuss these kinds of issues in a non-partisan way.

One thing I have learned is that while we may all agree on the objectives and the goal, because of our philosophical or ideological differences, our approach to resolving these issues and achieving the goals often differ. During the debates it is important for everyone to remember that we share the same goal, that of a safer society, of preventing accidents caused by impaired drivers. We must be responsive to those who say this is a complex issue.

I recently said to someone that we do not have to say that an issue is controversial. If it is not controversial, it is not an issue. If the solutions were simple, we would not be debating them here, they would have been resolved. The reason we are having this debate is because the issue is controversial and the solutions are not simple and the public policy implications are complex.

I specifically mentioned the legislation in Ontario that was struck down by the courts. It was well-intentioned legislation. The provincial government was warned that when it was brought in that there would be court challenges. The court challenge was successful and the legislation was struck down.

I believe that as legislators we must not grandstand on these issues. We must not say that the solutions are simple. These issues are so important to the kind of society we build that they must be addressed often in this kind of forum. We must look for a solution, listen to the experts, collect the data from across the country, look internationally to see what others are doing, look at what works and what does not.

No one wants to see tax increases and everyone wants value for their tax dollars. We must target our resources to those things that will work cost effectively.

In the debate today I want my message to be very clear. On behalf of the people of Thornhill who I have the privilege of representing in the House, I believe they would like to see a comprehensive strategy, one that includes enhanced education, prevention, treatment options and strengthening of the Criminal Code in a way that will achieve the goal of reducing drunk driving in all motorized vehicles.

I appreciate the opportunity of speaking in a non-partisan way for my constituents in the riding of Thornhill on an issue of importance to all of us. I believe this is an issue that every member in the House and every person in the country cares deeply about. There have been too many needless tragedies. I wish the solutions were simple. But I know that every member of the House, each in our own way, will further the cause by participating in today's debate.

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1:15 p.m.


Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with very much of what was said by the hon. member across the way. Debates like this bother me because they hit home personally.

For several years in the last session I worked with my colleagues, friends and people across the country on a national victims bill of rights. We brought this victims bill of rights to the House, and the justice minister at that time agreed with the bill. Millions of people across the country were optimistic that we would finally see a national victims bill of rights. That bill went to committee and died there and nothing has come of it.

My concern is very much the same as what we are hearing from parties here, two parties in particular who had the opportunity over decades to do something about drunk driving. Today on the Reform Party's presentation we are very likely to get unanimous agreement on such a motion. How confident does the hon. member feel about implementing something in this House when the track record of past governments is zero?

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1:15 p.m.


Elinor Caplan Liberal Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I suggest to the member that in fact the track record is not zero. If we are going to have a helpful thoughtful debate on important issues like this one, it is important to state the facts clearly.

We know there were amendments to the Criminal Code placed by this government and passed by this government last spring in the previous Parliament. We also know that over the course of the last Parliament there were numerous justice issues brought forward by this government that were simply not supported by the Reform Party across the way. I would like to point out the ones they did not support.

Talk is cheap. When we are talking about a non-partisan issue such as this one, and we want to have support from all sides of the House, I say to my colleague from the Reform Party, who would stand and talk about zero, that he should get his facts straight. I would ask him, if I can during my response, why it is when it came to important initiatives to strengthen the Young Offenders Act the Reform Party voted no. Why is it when it came to gun control which was supported across the country, the Reform Party said no? Why is it when it came to strengthening the judicial review of parole ineligibility, again the Reform Party said no?

I am proud to stand in my place today in support of an initiative which the justice minister and the solicitor general of this Liberal government have said is a priority for this government. I believe with goodwill from all sides of the House we can make progress, but with an attitude like that and when you stand in the House and do not give accurate information to the people watching—

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1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The Chair reminds hon. members to please address each other through the Chair.

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October 30th, 1997 / 1:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the debate today on the issue of drunk driving is extraordinarily important. I congratulate MADD for its important work nationally. In my own constituency there are very few families who have not been affected in some way by a drunk driver. The risk to individuals and to society is great if we let it continue to grow unabated.

The penalty for someone arrested for drunk driving is significantly more lenient than the penalty for someone who while behind the wheel of a car kills somebody, yet the actions leading up to either of those two conclusions are identical. The only difference is that one person was lucky enough to be arrested before he killed somebody. That the two actions are identical represents one of the greatest arguments for stricter sentencing, for tougher laws and for stronger enforcement of those laws.

Earlier I had made a few notes to commend my fellow parliamentarians on the non-partisan nature of this debate, but I suppose that is no longer valid. However, I was enjoying the debate immensely up to that point, so I would ask that we return to the non-partisan spirit of debate on this very important issue.

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1:20 p.m.


Elinor Caplan Liberal Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, the issues which the member opposite raised about the variations within the Criminal Code are exactly the types of issues that should be addressed not only during debate and discussions perhaps before a legislative committee, but also by the justice minister and her colleagues across this country because it is the provinces which enforce the Criminal Code.

I support a non-partisan debate in this legislature. I said that during my remarks. However when provoked, if you tease the bear, I growl. I hope hon. members opposite do not take offence when I respond in kind.

This is an issue of importance to members of all parties. I too wish we could debate this issue in a non-partisan manner. Unfortunately my colleague opposite made that impossible.

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1:20 p.m.


Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, apology accepted. It is too important an issue to start playing petty partisan politics, regardless of the fact of whether someone feels they have been provoked. Certainly I could respond to the long list the member just rattled through and say that I was provoked. However that would detract from the spirit of this debate today, which is to address one of the most serious criminal actions in our country which is killing thousands and thousands of Canadians and unfortunately all too often they are very young Canadians.

What specifically is the hon. member prepared to do to ensure that we bring the issue of drunk driving to its proper conclusion? What concrete action is she prepared to take? That is what my hon. colleague from Langley—Abbotsford was getting at. It is fine to support a motion, but what concrete steps will the government take and which this particular member will support?

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1:20 p.m.


Elinor Caplan Liberal Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, in response to the hon. member opposite, I am willing to take the Minister of Justice at her word on the commitment which she has just made to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, that she will raise this issue when she meets with her counterparts across Canada. I am not only prepared to take her at her word, but I am willing to give her the opportunity to bring forward a report to the House. At that time there would be an appropriate opportunity for us to consider this matter in an appropriate forum such as the justice committee. That is what I said during my remarks.

I would also point out that we may not all agree on the solutions, because they are complex. However, I believe we all agree on the goal. I will make my commitment in this House to do what I can to achieve the goal of reducing drunk driving and to make changes as necessary to public policy to achieve that goal. I consider that to be a priority on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Thornhill.

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1:20 p.m.


Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would not want the House to misunderstand where I come from. It is not to degrade debate in this House to ask very legitimate questions. The question is serious. How do we as members of this House get the government to move on issues such as this one and on issues such as the victims bill of rights, on victims of other crimes as well as drunk driving?

Members in this House should clearly understand that questions have to be asked because I do not think the confidence is there that these things proceed as they should. I want the hon. member to understand that.

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1:25 p.m.


Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I say at the outset that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Langley—Abbotsford.

At the start of my presentation, I want to draw attention to the fact that in this debate we want to clearly understand that many thousands of victims are killed every year. I think the number is up to 1,700 victims of drunk driving or of accidents involving alcohol. I noted in my brief remarks a few minutes ago that all too often it is the young.

We are rapidly approaching one of the worst possible times of the year for drunk driving. As the incidents of drunk driving go up, unfortunately so do the fatalities and the injuries around Christmastime. Another time of the year is at graduation time with our young people.

Last year a poem appeared in the Alaska Highway News in my hometown. I want to read a couple of excerpts from it because it quite pointedly cuts to the real problem.

I went to a party, Mom, I remembered what you said. You told me not to drink, Mom, so I drank soda instead. I really felt proud inside, Mom, the way you said I would. I didn't drink and drive, Mom, even though the others said I should.

I started to drive away, Mom, but as I pulled out into the road, the other car didn't see me, Mom, and hit me like a load. As I lay there on the pavement, Mom, I hear the policeman say, the other guy is drunk, Mom, and now I'm the one who will pay.

Why do people drink, Mom? It can ruin your whole life. I'm feeling sharp pains now. Pains just like a knife. The guy who hit me is walking, Mom, and I don't think it's fair. I'm lying here dying and all he can do is stare.

Someone should have told him, Mom, not to drink and drive. If only they had told him, Mom, I would still be alive.

My breath is getting shorter, Mom, I'm becoming very scared. Please don't cry for me, Mom. When I needed you, you were always there. I have one last question, Mom, before I say goodbye. I didn't drink and drive, so why am I the one to die?

That really sums up the issue here. It is the innocent who are being killed by drunk drivers time and time again. I do not think this government or previous governments have even begun to adequately address this issue. It is critical that the House act on this motion.

Impaired drivers have been literally getting away with murder, with little or no consequence for their deadly habits. We have all heard the statistics echoed time and time again during the debate today. Too many families are suffering because the lives of loved ones were cut short by drunk drivers. Too many convicted impaired drivers get behind the wheel again and again, never changing their drinking and driving behaviour. For some, even killing a child does not stop them.

Scott Wilson was only 15 when he was killed by a drunk driver in 1985. The driver, Owen Bradshaw, hit a hay wagon loaded with a minor hockey team, their friends and families. Bradshaw fled the scene as Scott lay dying and 18 other people lay injured by his criminal act.

This was not the first time he had been caught drinking and driving, it was the third. He had two previous impaired convictions. He only received a $175 fine for his first conviction and spent 30 days in jail for the second. For killing Scott, he was sentenced to two years imprisonment plus one year for fleeing the scene of the accident, but he only served one-third of the three year sentence before being paroled in December 1987.

You would think his conscience would not let him continue to drive and drink, but he was convicted of drunk driving again in 1991. On his fourth offence he received a six month jail term and was prohibited from driving for three years. Did he change? No. On his birthday last year Bradshaw backed a van into a police cruiser that had pulled in behind him. When it went to trial the crown recommended locking him up for three years but the judge gave him only nine months and recommended that he be granted immediate temporary passes so he could continue to work during the day. His ex-wife had told the court how important his child support payments were to put food on the table for their children. He should have thought about his family before he picked up the beer. He should have thought about Scott's family when he picked up the keys. He has been convicted of drunk driving five times. How many times has he driven while impaired? I would doubt that even he knows.

Bradshaw is just one of many drunk drivers with multiple impaired offences still on the road today. They do not change even after fines and prison terms. Many continue to drive with their licences suspended, still drinking and still driving, hoping the police will not catch them.

Bradshaw, unfortunately, is just one but not even the worst example. Sadly there are countless others. One man killed five girls in Winnipeg on his 51st offence.

There are at least two types of impaired drivers, the ones who get charged once and never drink and drive again, and the ones who get charged but continue to drink and drive with extremely high blood alcohol levels. It is the second type in particular that our laws must focus on, the hardcore drinkers. They will drink and drive until they injure or kill themselves or someone else. Yet they refuse to change.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 12% of hardcore drunk drivers killed around 1,300 Canadians last year alone. For these people we must consider an alternative that will save lives.

Other people here today have talked about the need for stiffer penalties, and I certainly concur with them. However, I would like to focus on another deterrent for drunk driving, something that has been proven effective in both the United States and Alberta where it has been available since 1990. On Monday last I introduced Bill C-266, a bill that would empower judges to sentence impaired drivers to ignition interlock programs. I believe it is one part of a deterrence package that this House should seriously consider.

For members who have not heard of it, an ignition interlock is an electronic device with a breath alcohol analyser, a micro-computer and an internal memory that interconnects with the ignition and other control systems of a vehicle. It measures the blood alcohol level of the driver and prevents the vehicle from starting if the alcohol level exceeds a certain level. In other words, it only lets the operator drive if he or she is sober.

It has been proven that current methods of sanction and rehabilitation do not work for most hardcore drinking drivers. However, the interlock is an immediate and effective deterrent against drunk driving for the participants in the program. People in the program have a licence that only allows them to operate vehicles with an ignition interlock. Every 30 to 60 days the internal memory of the interlock is read and recorded. The report details every driving event, the results of all tests and any attempts to circumvent the system. Where other members of the family must have access to the vehicle they too can be taught how to use the device.

There are currently programs in Alberta, in 30 U.S. jurisdictions and Quebec will start a program on December 1.

Michael Weinerath, currently teaching at the University of Winnipeg, evaluated the results of the ignition interlock program in Alberta. He concluded that the ignition interlock cases were 4.4 times less likely to record a new serious driving violation and 3.9 times less likely to be involved in an injury collision. Clearly the interlock system teaches impaired drivers to modify their own behaviour much more effectively than jail or other treatment programs. Not only does the interlock keep impaired drivers off the road when they have been drinking but, more important, it teaches them to keep themselves off the road when they have been drinking.

Where a person requires their vehicle for work and a judge thinks a suspension would be an undue hardship, the ignition interlock provides the public with an added measure of safety.

The police cannot be everywhere but the interlock can be there every day and every night, all the time. In most jurisdictions the interlock is installed for a set period of time but I believe there is a better alternative. We could make the program mandatory until such time as the drunk driver changes his or her behaviour. Some people modify their behaviour within a couple of months, but others never learn. Those are the ones we need to stop.

People convicted of impaired driving, particularly those who have killed or injured someone, should not be able to start their cars let alone drive if they have been drinking, and the interlock stops them. If they cannot start their car, they will not be on the road killing people. And if they are caught driving a vehicle without the device, then lock them up.

We do not give a lethal weapon to a known sociopath who has been convicted of murder. So why do we let impaired drivers who have shown no regard for human life continue to drink and drive? I say let us consider the ignition interlock as part of an overall deterrence package. We owe it to Scott Wilson and the hundreds of other Canadians who are killed by drunk drivers every year.

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1:35 p.m.


Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to dedicate this speech to Sheena, who was taken away from us some years ago by a drunk driver. The drunk driver had his licence suspended for that deed.

I start by congratulating MADD Canada. It is a Canadian organization of volunteers, people committed to trying to rectify a situation in this country that has grown to be very unacceptable. This is an organization in which many of the people have experienced the very problems and situations that have been raised here today.

The mission of MADD Canada is to stop impaired driving and support victims of this violent crime. What more honourable mission could there be?

One has to just do a reality check and talk about some of the statistics related to drunk driving. I know they have been mentioned here before, but I want to make yet another point on this, that 4.5 Canadians are being killed by impaired drivers every 24 hours, every day of the week. Over 300 people a day are being injured in Canada as the result of an alcohol related crash, more than one Canadian every five minutes. Impaired drivers killed 17,630 Canadians and injured 1.1 million from 1983 to 1991.

If those were by the hands of criminals with guns, if they were rapes or other types of malicious actions, laws would have been put in place long ago in this country to prevent them. One wonders why, after all these years of building up to this, we are at this time today in 1997 asking the House of Commons yet again to take action.

A bit before my speech I raised my concern and I want to talk about it again. We in the House must insist on action from government, from all members from all parties. But it is the government which is responsible for implementation. We in this country cannot wait, beg, hope, appease that something, somewhere, somehow will be done. If not now, then when? And if not here in the House of Commons, then where?

Not only has the situation of drunk driving affected our family deeply, but I have been involved in a number of cases in my riding of victims of drunk driving, even before I was a member of Parliament.

I recall a drunk driver who had a history of drunk driving charges. He was out on yet another binge, on a Sunday, when he drove through a chain-link fence at one of our school yards. I was the secretary-treasurer at the time. He killed several young people and severely injured others.

I recall being in the courtroom when his defence lawyer tried time and time again to get me to admit that it was a problem with the fence. It was the fence, he said, that was not strong enough to keep the drunk driver out.

He did not win that case. He served a very short time in jail. He is out, probably driving drunk again.

I wondered at the time why we were looking at the fence as the problem. Why would we sue a school district or any other entity for the actions of an irresponsible individual? Perhaps way back then I made my mind up to get involved in politics to change that shameless attitude.

I am happy to see that members of the House support this motion. It well explains how bad the situation is in Canada.

I am working with a friend right now who lost his step-son. He will be driving across the country in the spring, raising the awareness of the public about drunk drivers.

I would like to read from a letter which he recently sent to me. This individual's step-son was killed by a hit and run driver who was suspected of being drunk. We now know he was actually drunk. He says in his letter that court proceedings are in absolute shambles. There is no mention of cause of appearance. The charge appeared for two minutes. He was allowed to leave the courtroom free. Basically the parents were told nothing about it. This was just another one of those days in court.

He had previous convictions for impaired driving, going back to 1984. On six occasions his licence was suspended. My friend asks this question “Why is a person such as this allowed to drive again, and resulting in eventually killing somebody, my step-son? The law has to be changed. The law as it stands at the moment condones drinking and driving by the fact that a coward like this killed my son”. That is how these people feel. I know what those people are going through.

It is necessary once again to read into the record where Reform stands on this matter. There should be no doubt about what we believe in.

Reform supports strengthening the Criminal Code and other federal acts to respond to the serious issue of impaired driving. Our aim is to enhance deterrence and more suitably punish those who choose to drink and drive. A Reform government would lower the current blood alcohol content level from .08 to .05. We would extend or eliminate the two hour sampling time limit. We would toughen sentences for those convicted of impaired driving, higher fines, jail times and licence suspensions. We would establish minimum sentences and longer driving prohibitions for those convicted of impaired driving offences causing death or injury. We would ensure that parole is dependent on the successful completion of an educational or rehabilitative program. We would encourage the provinces to introduce random breath tests for deterrence. We would encourage the provinces to seize and sell the vehicles of those convicted of impaired driving while under suspension, with the proceeds going to an anti-drinking and driving fund.

I suspect things like this have been said in the House for many years. I know my colleagues mean what they say. We have worked on this issue. We have worked with groups across the country. It is necessary to emphasize in the House that it is time to act. It is not the time to sit back and tell a committee to take the issue, wallow around with it, hope it goes away and make some minor tinkering changes. We are long past that time.

I encourage my colleagues to put whatever pressure is necessary on those who make decisions in this esteemed place to get on with the job of changing the ability of drunk drivers to kill.

MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is looking for a victims bill of rights. I have some experience with that, having approached it not from the drunk driving angle but from the view of other victims of crime. It suitably fits in both places.

Unfortunately I have run out of time. In conclusion I would say that we must influence this place and get the job done this time.

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1:45 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the member's comments.

The motion before us today concerns the specific area of drinking and driving and asking the government to put forward a motion to have a committee draft a bill to deal with deterrents and penalties to reflect the seriousness of the offence. Every member of this place should and I hope will support the motion. It transcends partisan politics.

Since the member is the House leader of the Reform Party I would ask him for his words of wisdom. I am having difficulty making it happen but I think it is important.

If the issue unfolds the way it should and the justice committee deals with deterrents and penalties, it will undoubtedly seek the input of expertise from across Canada. It is undoubtedly the case that there will be input with regard to the broader question of alcohol misuse in Canada. This will possibly bring out relevant and vital recommendations that should also be dealt with.

Would the member on behalf of the Reform Party support or move an amendment to its motion to the effect that any other important recommendations, observations, et cetera, that should come from the committee would be referred to the appropriate standing committee for detailed review? In that way we would not lose the momentum started by the motion.