The biggest policy changes or proposed policy changes seem to happen during election season in Canada. Take the Dangerous and Impaired Driving Act for example: years after promising tougher drunk driving laws, the conservatives are introducing a new plan to fight impaired driving. That idea in itself is a great one, but the timing means it may be a ploy for votes in the Federal election and could never see the light of day.
Another hot button topic in Federal elections of the past has been the idea of putting alcohol in grocery stores, with the Conservative government in Ontario putting their foot down and saying no and the Liberals pushing forward to eliminate the privatization of alcohol sales. With an election right around the corner and the topic on people’s minds, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union has come out against grocery store liquor sales and ruffled a few feathers in a very unlikely place: Alberta.
Alberta is at the bottom of the heap when it comes to controlling impaired driving in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, the province is second only to Saskatchewan for impaired drivers, and that’s one of the reasons why Ontario has stepped forward and used the province as an example in a recent radio advertisement.
You’ve probably heard of the advertisement by now, but if you haven’t the overall message is this: in Alberta it’s 3 ½ times more likely that people are driving drunk than in Ontario, and because alcohol is available in grocery stores in Alberta, it will be easier for a person to pick up alcohol than it would be to get a Tim Horton’s double double.
Needless to say, people in Alberta aren’t impressed about the ad, and they’ve fought back in the form of news posts, radio spots, and on TV. Yes, it’s true that Alberta has more impaired drivers than Ontario, but is there a direct link between grocery store sales and impaired driving? Officials aren’t so sure, and don’t feel it can be proven yet.
Whether it’s a ploy to gain more votes in an election or an attempt to draw more attention to a hot button topic, the feud between Ontario and Alberta probably won’t die down for a while. If you live in either province, what’s your take on privatizing liquor sales, and how do you think it will affect impaired driving in your province?