MP pushes drunk driving bill
My Conservative colleague Steven Blaney recently brought forward private member’s Bill C-226 to combat drunk driving. This bill will make a real, practical difference on the roads and it will save lives every year. Some of the provisions of the bill may be controversial. But I will still be supporting it.
Bill C-226 has three main provisions. First, it toughens sentences for repeat drunk drivers. Second, it eliminates legal loopholes in order to ensure that drunk drivers face justice. These parts of the bill will, I suspect, be relatively uncontroversial.
The third and most consequential part of the bill is that it will introduce a system of so-called “mandatory screening.” This will allow police to ask any driver at any time to provide a breath sample. Currently, officers have to demonstrate probable cause before asking for a breath sample. Some civil liberty advocates defend the current system on the basis that they do not want police officers to have the power to require a breath sample without cause. They consider this a violation of civil liberties.
Civil liberties are important to me. I certainly do not think that the police should be able to demand a breath sample from a person in their home or out for a walk. But driving is a privilege, not a right. And driving entails specific obligations and responsibilities, which are needed to protect public safety. I think one of those responsibilities should be to provide a breath sample when one is requested.
It’s worth noting that, after studying this issue, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights recommended the implementation of mandatory screening. Also, countries that have implemented mandatory screening have witnessed a significant decrease in the number of recorded road deaths every year. Since impaired driving is the leading cause of criminal death in Canada, this is particularly important. We are talking about real lives being saved if this bill passes.
Going door to door in this constituency, I have met families who have been affected by drunk driving — either because they’ve lost a loved one, or because they have a loved one struggling with a permanent disability as a result of a drunk driving incident. Mandatory screening could have made a difference for these families. Mandatory screening will deter drunk drivers, and also ensure that drunk drivers are caught and successfully prosecuted.
Those who are interested can look at the Parliamentary website to see other bills currently before Parliament, using this link: www.parl.gc.ca/LEGISInfo/Home.aspx?language=E&ParliamentSession=42-1.
Especially given the large range of topics before Parliament at any given time, I always appreciate when constituents share with me their particular interest in, or expertise with, particular topics.
Garnett Genuis is the member of Parliament for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 780-467-4944. His office is located in the Park Place Professional Centre, Unit No. 214. Genuis was first elected in October 2015.
Published: Thursday, April 7, 2016