By The Canadian Press - Monday, January 28, 2013 - 0 Comments
SHERBROOKE, Que. – A Quebec man has been charged with drinking and driving for…
SHERBROOKE, Que. – A Quebec man has been charged with drinking and driving for the 17th time.
Maurice Larrivee allegedly showed up this Sunday morning at a grocery store to buy a case of two dozen beers at 8:45.
The cashier allegedly warned the 69-year-old man that he appeared too drunk to drive and, along with fellow employees, tried to convince him not to get back in his car.
Larrivee allegedly ignored the request, and left.
By Mika Rekai - Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 5:10 AM - 0 Comments
It has been two years since judges in Prince Edward Island took the country’s harshest stance on impaired drivers—imposing mandatory jail time for virtually everyone convicted of being above the legal limit.
It has been two years since judges in Prince Edward Island took the country’s harshest stance on impaired drivers—imposing mandatory jail time for virtually everyone convicted of being above the legal limit. In Canada, eight per cent of those convicted of driving under the influence in 2011 served time in custody. In P.E.I., 93 per cent were sentenced to jail time. While the move was controversial, the judges claimed it was necessary for public safety.
Perhaps, but the province’s jails may be the ones hardest hit by the new approach.
Alanna Taylor, a Charlottetown defence lawyer, says it is “fairly typical” that one-third to one-half of cases going through the courts on any given day are impaired-driving charges. According to Statistics Canada, 28 per cent of all guilty cases in P.E.I. are for impaired driving, compared to 16 per cent elsewhere. With short jail terms now the norm even for first-time offenders, they’ve become commonly known as “weekenders,” and the provincial jails are feeling it.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 4:36 PM - 0 Comments
Behold: the first-ever extramural attack ad from an Alberta Conservative government. Don Braid says it’s the first, anyway, and if I didn’t know whether it was the first, he might be the person I’d ask.
Maybe it goes without saying, but the dearth of attack ads in recent Alberta politics is not special testimony to the politeness of those politics. It’s testimony to Alberta’s one-party nature. The Conservatives took over from Social Credit in 1971, in a youth-driven power shift: Peter Lougheed, in pushing aside a government that had delivered prosperity but was increasingly behind the times socially, was so civil and restrained and all-around decent about it that the whupped Socreds practically said “Please, sir, may I have another?” The federal Liberals and the radical ’70s NDP obligingly kept Lougheed in power for another decade and a half, and as Braid notes, the premier never so much as referred to the existence of other parties. Why would it have been in his interest to do so? Continue…
By Alex Ballingall - Monday, March 5, 2012 at 9:50 AM - 0 Comments
France is requiring motorists to carry them around in their vehicles
In a dramatic effort to combat drunk driving, France is set to become the first country in the world to require that motorists carry Breathalyzer kits in their vehicles. The measure is part of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s push to reduce France’s annual road death toll, which sat unmoved at over 4,000 in 2011. One third of those fatalities were alcohol-related, according to the government’s Sécurité Routière department, giving France one of the worst drunk driving records in Europe.
After a grace period expires in November, anyone caught without a Breathalyzer will be fined $15. France has recently stiffened fines for driving over the legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.05, and added even harsher penalties for blowing over 0.08—$6,000 in fines and potential prison sentences. The hope is that people will use the Breathalyzer to check their own level before hitting the road. Just a glass or two of Provençal rosé or a smooth Merlot could be enough to push most people over.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 9:31 AM - 0 Comments
Peter Goldring, the MP for Edmonton East, explains what happened the night he was charged by police with failing to provide a breath sample and says he’ll explain why later.
“Although I was not impaired by alcohol, the police officer demanded I provide a roadside breath sample at the time because I admitted to having recently consumed a very small amount of alcohol,” Goldring told media at Edmonton’s courthouse. ”One beer. The police had the opportunity to charge me with impaired. They did not. There’s no suggestion of impairment here.”
He said he would provide the reason for his refusal to take a breathalyzer only when his case comes to court.
Mr. Goldring withdrew from the Conservative caucus in December and declared himself a Civil Libertarian MP in January, but he is now simply an independent MP (possibly to avoid confusion with the actual Libertarian Party). He has previously expressed civil liberties concerns with random sampling of drivers.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 9:15 AM - 31 Comments
Conservative MP Peter Goldring has resigned from the Conservative caucus after being charged for refusing a breathalyzer test this weekend.
Two years ago, on the basis of civil liberties concerns, he criticized a proposal from Mothers Against Drunk Driving that would have required drivers to comply with random screening. He also apparently opposed new drunk driving legislation being pursued by the Alberta government.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 3:33 PM - 0 Comments
Coast to coast
British Columbia: Two Korean foreign exchange students were attacked at a bus stop in North Vancouver by three youths. One victim required seven stitches and 18 staples to close a head wound after being struck in the skull with a machete. Two 18-year-olds and a 17-year-old have been charged with aggravated assault.
Alberta: Police are searching for two men who committed armed robbery at a Calgary drugstore. The thieves were demanding OxyContin, though when told by the pharmacist the painkiller wasn’t stocked at that particular location, the men settled for erectile dysfunction drugs instead.
Manitoba: A Swan River man facing 47 counts of animal abuse was arrested after showing up at an auction where his family and friends were bidding on some of the horses he is alleged to have mistreated. The RCMP escorted the man from the auction and have charged him with breaching a court order. In December, 15 horses, 27 dogs and two donkeys were seized from his farm. Police allege that at the time of the seizure, some of the dogs had rotted flesh around their necks from chain collars, and that piles of animal feces reached one metre high.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 6:00 PM - 0 Comments
Barack Obama and Stephen Harper agree to discuss border security, while Silvio Berlusconi’s political career hangs by a thread
A report prepared for Washington lawmakers reached a familiar conclusion: a “truly shocking” lack of security along the Canada-U.S. border. Of the 6,400 km that separate the two countries, only 51—less than one per cent—is under “acceptable control,” the report says. Which is why this week’s announcement of a White House sit-down between Barack Obama and Stephen Harper is welcome news. After months of speculation, the time has come for both leaders to hammer out the final details of a North American security perimeter that will not only boost security, but improve the flow of trade.
By a margin of three to one, Canadians support changes to the monarchy that would rid the system of its males-first succession rules—an issue that was recently raised in the British Parliament. Maybe that explains the report in a London tabloid that William and Kate have chosen Canada as the site of their first overseas tour after the April wedding. Clearly, the United States wasn’t even an option. A new survey found that only nine per cent of Americans are interested in whether the royal marriage even lasts.
In the safe lane
According to new figures released by Transport Canada, death by car is on the decline. In 2008 (the latest stats available), 2,419 people were killed behind the wheel, a 12 per cent drop from the previous year—and the lowest number of fatalities in nearly six decades. The dip is a direct result of tougher seat-belt and drunk-driving laws, not to mention airbags and impact beams. But gas prices deserve some “credit” too; Statistics Canada says the cost of a fill-up jumped 13 per cent over the past year.
Lots of people are lucky to be alive this week. In New Zealand, a hydro worker injured only his thumb and elbow after getting zapped with 19,000 volts of electricity (“I should be in a pine box,” he joked). In Utah, an accused robber is recovering after hurling himself out of the window of a moving police car—while wearing handcuffs. And in Scotland, a mountain climber somehow survived a 300-m fall off the side of an icy cliff. Rescuers found him standing up and looking at his map.
Cruel and unusual
The reported slaughter of around 100 sled dogs in Whistler, B.C. has sparked outrage. The horrifying details of how the dogs were killed emerged in the workers’ compensation documents of a B.C. man claiming post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident. The man’s lawyer says his client shot the dogs after being told by the tour operator he sub-contracted for to make the business more “cost effective.” The tour operator insists it didn’t order the cull, but if dogs were euthanized it would be done in a “humane manner.” The B.C. SPCA and the RCMP are investigating.
Silvio “the Situation”
If the allegations are true, Silvio Berlusconi won’t be in office much longer. He’ll be in jail. The Italian prime minister—already famous for hosting “bunga bunga” sex parties at his home—is now accused of hiring two underage prostitutes. When one was later arrested for theft, Berlusconi reportedly pressured police to release her. Can you blame Jersey Shore producers for deciding to film Season 4 back in the old country?
Big, fat problem
As it does every five years, the U.S. government released new dietary guidelines this week. The mere fact Americans need to be reminded every five years to eat more greens and cut back on the salt is scary enough. But then again, Canadians may benefit from a similar scolding. According to a new report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, nearly 90 per cent of Canadians consider themselves healthy, despite plenty of evidence that we don’t eat nearly enough fruits and veggies, and many of us are packing more pounds than we should.
A new study says creative people are more likely to cheat because they can find “original ways to bypass moral rules.” Although being clever, resourceful and imaginative looks great on a resumé, researchers also found that creativity “allows people to come up with a lot of excuses and justifications for why their behaviour isn’t bad.” Exhibit A: Lise Thibault. The former Quebec lieutenant-governor made her first court appearance this week, accused of creatively spending $700,000 in taxpayer money.
By Colby Cosh with Chris Sorensen and Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 12, 2010 at 6:00 AM - 114 Comments
Ottawa’s storybook young duo suffers a fall from grace
Wearing a navy pinstripe suit, a blue check shirt, and a vibrant yellow and lime-green striped tie, Rahim Jaffer cut a dapper figure in a courtroom in Orangeville, Ont., a sleepy town of 27,000 northwest of Toronto. The former politician, his hair gelled neatly in place, sat near the back of the gallery on the morning of March 9 while the court dealt with its quotidian diet of scandal: a domestic dispute, a 17-year-old arrested for marijuana possession, a woman caught skimming from her employer. For his part, Jaffer, 38, looked confident. With good reason.
Jaffer would shortly plead guilty to a charge of careless driving, and promise to pay a fine of $500; the court was told he had already made a charitable donation of an equivalent amount. As part of the plea deal, the Crown had agreed to drop two more serious charges against Jaffer—drunk driving and possession of cocaine—but did not offer much in the way of explanation. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2009, Jaffer had been pulled over by police for speeding through the village of Palgrave. The OPP officer detaining him was said to have smelled alcohol on his breath; the ex-politician was reported by the OPP to have failed multiple breathalyzer tests, and when he was arrested and searched, an unspecified quantity of cocaine was allegedly found “on his person.” Nonetheless, there were “significant legal issues” surrounding those charges, Crown attorney Marie Balogh told the court, and she foresaw no reasonable chance of conviction. She refused to answer questions from reporters after the trial. Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the attorney general of Ontario, stated later that “there were issues related to the evidence that led the Crown to determine that the most appropriate way to proceed was with the plea resolution.”
Justice Douglas Maund wrapped up the proceedings, telling the accused: “I’m sure you can recognize a break when you see one.” Outside the courthouse, Jaffer did not respond to the judge’s remark or to any questions about the dropped charges. “I know that I should have been more careful,” he said. “I once again apologize for that and I take full responsibility for my careless driving. And that’s really all I have to say this morning.”
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 12:51 PM - 83 Comments
Maybe it’s true: you can put a Republican in a Democratic cabinet, but you can’t stop him from trashing science. On Friday the Highway Loss Data Institute issued a paper complaining that their insurance-claims information offered no significant indication that cellular bans in California, New York, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia had done a lick of good. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took to the web in a state of high dudgeon, complaining that the study “irresponsibly suggests that laws banning cell phone use while driving have zero effect on the number of crashes on our nation’s roadways.”
Leaving aside whether it can be “irresponsible” for a study to report disappointing or unexpected data—although, why, yes, now that you mention it, that’s something the definition of scientific responsibility positively requires!—LaHood isn’t even speaking accurately about what the HLDI found. According to the Institute’s interpretation of the trendlines, New York and Connecticut experienced statistically significant increases in claims relative to other states when cell-phone bans were introduced. The effect of the ban wasn’t zero: it was worse than zero.
The HLDI doesn’t really believe that cell-phone bans make the roads more dangerous, and you probably shouldn’t either. The charts in the study offer a nice check on the credibility of the findings, and the one from New York actually appears to provide decent prima facie evidence that the cell-phone ban did work there:
The reason the statistical model used in the paper reported a negative effect in NY (and CT) is that those states were already enjoying long-term trends of increasing relative safety before the ban—trends which slowed, but, as you can see for yourself, did not stop. Interpretively, this seems like pretty sharp dealing. On the other hand, the unimpressive early results for California, the most populous state, have to be pretty disappointing for advocates of a cell-phone ban.
One way or another, there can be no excuse for LaHood to resort to the argument from anecdote in an attack on the world’s most important highway-safety authority.
Not explaining likely reasons for the surprising data encourages people to wrongly conclude that talking on cell phones while driving is not dangerous! Nothing could be further from the truth. Just ask Jennifer Smith and the founding board members of FocusDriven, who all lost loved ones in crashes caused by cell phone drivers. Ask Shelli Ralls, who lost her son Chance Wayne Wilcox on March 22, 2008. Ask any one of the hundreds of people who have poured out their stories of loss on Oprah, on websites, in blogs and newspapers around the country.
You heard right: go ask Oprah, says the man 13th in the line of succession to the nuclear football. I for one would be more comfortable right now if that number were a little higher.
I thought another part of LaHood’s horrified screed was particularly amusing:
Look, a University of Utah study shows that using a cell phone while driving can be just as dangerous and deadly as driving drunk.
The part he left out, in describing that 2006 study, is that motorists were put in a driving simulator and tested four times: once while sober and undistracted, once while using a handheld cell, once while using a hands-free set, and once while at a blood-alcohol level of exactly 0.08%—the legal limit in many North American jurisdictions. What the researchers actually found is that driving “drunk” by this definition isn’t all that dangerous!
“Neither accident rates, nor reaction times to vehicles braking in front of the participant, nor recovery of lost speed following braking differed significantly” from undistracted drivers, the researchers write. …Drews says the lack of accidents among the study’s drunken drivers was surprising. He and Strayer speculate that because simulated drives were conducted during mornings, participants who got drunk were well-rested and in the “up” phase of intoxication.
Whoa, there’s an “up” phase!?
Look, we all know it’s better to drive without distractions and without a bellyful of Wild Turkey. But learning to take drunk driving seriously has been an important achievement of Western civilization in recent times, and that achievement is undermined when politicians make gibbering, hysterical comparisons of cell-phone-using drivers to drunken ones. The case for cell-phone bans has to stand on its own two feet. And, ideally, on a solid empirical foundation of the sort that has not yet been supplied.
By macleans.ca - Friday, December 11, 2009 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
This week’s Newsmakers
It’s coal in your stocking, bucko
Santa shook like a bowl full of Jell-O at the Southlake Mall in suburban Atlanta, but not in a good way. Police in Morrow, Ga., say 45-year-old William C. Caldwell III dressed as an elf and waited an hour in line to have his picture taken with St. Nick. When he reached the man in red, Caldwell, looking very elfin at five feet tall and 108 lb., said he was packing dynamite in his bags. Santa called security. The mall was evacuated but no explosives were found. The naughty elf faces a variety of charges and the prospect of Christmas behind bars.
The other shoe drops
Two Iraqi journalists are now one shoe short of a pair. Muntazer al-Zaidi, who famously chucked a shoe at former U.S. president George W. Bush, has himself become a target of flying footwear. Zaidi was speaking at a news conference in Paris when an exiled Iraqi journalist, arguing in favour of U.S. policy, hurled a shoe at Zaidi. Zaidi’s outraged brother attempted to rough up the fleeing journalist, who wasn’t immediately identified. And Zaidi later complained, “He stole my technique.”
Son of a Terminator
If the rumours are true, Tallulah Willis, 15, is dating Patrick Schwarzenegger, 16. Doesn’t that have the makings of the ultimate teen-romance action flick? Willis shares her time with daddy Bruce Willis, and with mom Demi Moore and her hubby Ashton Kutcher. And Schwarzenegger’s dad, Arnold, is the governator of California. The New York Post says the pair started dating at Halloween. A rep for Bruce Willis denies it, but dads are always the last to know. Continue…
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at 10:10 AM - 32 Comments
Canada is considering tougher and broader laws. Will they work?
Their actions are indefensible: Roger Walsh, the 57-year-old Quebecer sentenced to life in prison this September for running over and killing wheelchair-bound Anee Khudaverdian in 2008—his 19th impaired-driving conviction. Andrew Anthony Charles, a 25-year-old from Vancouver Island, recently handed three years for an alcohol-soaked April 2005 crash that took the lives of his girlfriend, Doreen Joseph, 20, and cousin, Glen Charles Jr., 23. Wladyslaw Bilski, a 49-year-old drunk from Chatham, Ont., who, earlier this fall, got four years, one for each of the elderly women he killed—Marion Dawson, Jean Ripley, Verna Neaves and Bernice Phillips—when he plowed his minivan head-on into their car as they returned home from a November 2007 church supper. Bilski’s blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit.
The list of offenders, and their innocent victims, goes on. Anyone with doubts that drunk driving is still a problem in Canada need only scan the headlines. In an era where the rates of all types of crime have dropped to 30-year lows, and our roads are safer than ever, the sometimes lethal combination of alcohol and automobile remains a stubborn phenomenon. In 2006 (the most recent statistics available), 907 Canadians were killed in crashes involving a drinking driver. Thousands more were injured.
Little wonder that federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson last month announced his intention to yet again toughen the country’s impaired-driving laws. Endorsing the June report of the all-party House of Commons justice committee, Nicholson said he wants to give police broad new powers to conduct random roadside breath tests. (As the law currently stands, ofﬁcers must have a reasonable suspicion—an admission of drinking, or possible indications of impairment like the odour of alcohol, or erratic driving—to use the Breathalyzer.) RBT, as the random checks are known, is now in place in several European nations, and has been a long-standing practice in Australia, where millions are waved to the side of the road, asked to board “Booze Buses,” and blow every year. It’s a change that would put Canada, already home to some of the world’s most stringent sanctions for impaired driving, at the forefront of a global war. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 5, 2009 at 4:25 PM - 28 Comments
Rob Nicholson reportedly raises the prospect of random breathalyzer tests.
The federal justice minister is considering a new law that would allow police to conduct random breathalyzer tests on drivers, regardless of whether they suspect motorists have been drinking.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson raised the prospect recently at a meeting of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, according to MADD chief executive Andrew Murie.
If random testing were to be adopted, it would be a major change to Canada’s 40-year-old breathalyzer legislation, which stipulates that police may only administer a test if they suspect a driver has been drinking.
By Nicholas Köhler - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 3:00 PM - 0 Comments
He was an immigrant success, a political star. What happened?
Last week, an email began making the rounds of the Tory BlackBerry circuit. Titled “Laugh of the day,” it consisted of two sentences pulled from an Edmonton Journal story detailing the arrest, on Sept. 11, of former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, whom police have charged with drunk driving and cocaine possession: “Edmonton MLA Thomas Lukaszuk knew Jaffer well and said he never saw him intoxicated in any way,” ran the excerpt. “ ‘I knew him to be a religious person,’ Lukaszuk said.”
The email’s recipients considered the quote droll because Jaffer, though almost universally loved among parliamentarians of all political stripes, is known to enjoy a drink. “He’s very hard not to like, although everyone acknowledges his shortcomings,” says another. “I think many people would say Rahim was the life of the party,” says Calgary Tory MP Rob Anders, a long-time colleague. Continue…
By Nicholas Köhler - Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 9:20 AM - 3 Comments
Impaireds are up and Bozek wants the new sergeant out
One day last fall, RCMP Sgt. Ron Russell, the top cop in Wynyard, Sask., stopped in at a local barbershop for a haircut when he noticed the owner and his friends indulging in a whiskey. “Are you closed?” asked Russell, who notes the law permits a proprietor to drink in his business only after hours. “Er, yeah,” said the barber. Russell left without a haircut and reviewed the legislation; the next day, he stopped in again to advise the barber he should lock his door next time he drinks. It was just one in a series of by-the-book pronouncements that have earned Russell a reputation as the east Saskatchewan town’s Dudley Do-Right—and it’s making the local bar owners angry.
Since last July, when the sergeant moved to town, the number of impaired driving charges and liquor licence violations have more than doubled; indeed, drunk driving charges in the area rose from 29 charges in 2007 to 48 last year. Russell admits more people are being charged because he’s being more vigilant, but he can’t figure out why that’s upsetting people. Now, “people are just coming in and having two or three drinks, then taking a box of beer home,” says Russell. “We actually think that’s responsible.”