With working with Families for Justice on getting the petition signed, I have heard a lot lately about people not agreeing with Mandatory Minimums because it wreaks of an American style of justice and Canadians don’t want that.
You’re absolutely right….surprised? You shouldn’t be. When it comes to Impaired Drivers and Courts and Sentences, I don’t want an American system of justice. Besides, even though they are making progress with Impaired Drivers, which is more than we can say in this country, they are not making great progress. They are going at a snails pace.
I don’t even look at how the Americans are dealing with Impaired Drivers, unless it comes up in an article or report that I happen to be reading about something else. In the immortal words of Dalton McGuinty I have been looking at changes “more in keeping with European Standards” (of course, he was using these words with reference to opening up beer tents).
The EU may have some serious issues with their economies, but the have set up clear rules, firm consequences, and consistent application of punishments in the courts. That’s all that we are asking for.
We actually have a very well defined law in this country with regards to Impaired Driving, Impaired Driving Causing Injury, and Impaired Driving Causing Death. Unfortunately, we have allowed Myth to override fact and therefore muddied the word and spirit of the law.
We don’t have clearly defined consequences. Sometimes they are charged, more often they are not. On rare occasions (22% of the time),they are charged with Impaired driving Causing Death/Bodily Harm. More often they are charged with Over .08mg. That’s a little like charging someone with Uttering Threats after they have shot someone. Even the police officers are complaining about the lack of consistency (they never know what charges the Crown will choose….personally, I think that Crown Attorney’s Offices come with one of those spinning wheels with a list of charges on it like on The Price is Right. They spin the wheel and whichever charge it lands on….) Oddly, it is not even classified as a violent crime…perhaps one day I will make a list of all of the damage that I have heard about inflicted on the children that I have heard about. Trust me when I say….it is violent.
As for consistent application of punishment…it is totally left to the discretion of a few people, so on occasion it is jail time but more often it is either ignored or a small fine if imposed (for the most common violent crime in the country). How many judges are there in Canada? Well, that is your answer to how many different punishments there could be.
If you don’t like the European Standard, then just look to Australia. They have dropped their rate significantly too by doing a lot of the things that MADD has been advocating for for years but also that there is a consistency all the way along the system. From prevention to punishment…it is made perfectly clear what an Impaired Driver can expect.
That’s all we are asking for. Put it in writing and hold people accountable. Not so bad…not so hard.