It’s hard for people when someone they look up to and admire is charged with a crime. It’s even harder for people to deal with it when the person charged is a politician who should know what breaking the law means better than anyone else. That might be why a wave of disappointment has covered Saskatchewan after the former deputy premier of the province has been fined and lost his driver’s license because he was drunk driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) almost triple the legal limit.
Don McMorris was spotted driving erratically late in the morning on a day in early August. He was in a government vehicle, and when he was stopped by police officers they suspected him of drunk driving and asked him to submit to a breathalyzer. He said he had been drinking the night before, so he was surprised his BAC came in so high the next day.
McMorris pleaded guilty to drunk driving, and although he’s stated that he’s embarrassed, sorry for his choice, and that there are no excuses, the incident has put a spotlight on Saskatchewan’s serious drunk driving problem. Even Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has spoken out after the arrest.
Wall posted a long message on his Facebook wall, and he began it with “Saskatchewan, we have a serious problem.” He mentioned that ignition interlocks are now required for all offenders, and that driver’s license suspensions may be extended. By reaching out to the people of Saskatchewan he seems to be trying to do something that hasn’t happened yet: get the people in the province to seriously reconsider their attitudes toward drunk driving.
He may have an uphill battle. A recent CBC article stated that one in five residents of the province think it’s fine to drink and drive short distances. That line of thinking discounts the fact that drunk driving can and does injure or kill, even if you only drive short distances.
What will it take to stop drunk drivers in Saskatchewan? No one knows, but the best outcome from a high profile drunk driving arrest like this is that it could be the red flag that causes everyone to stand up and take notice.