17 ways to look at it
Thatthere is a huge problem in the administration of justice in Canada and in Quebec was made completely clear this week when the employees of the Rock Forest Metro Plouffe averted a potential disaster by calling the cops after a highly inebriated costumer, early in the morning to boot, went to his car after buying a case of beer. It was the seventeenth time he was arrested on drunk driving charges, this time at twice the maximum level accepted.
The time has come to reconsider the way that drunk driving is seen: only an infraction, likened to an unpaid parking ticket, those being real revenue makers which I’m sure are getting more attention from municipalities than drunk driving.
Which, for those unaware, is a crime, as in Criminal Code. Problem is that not too many people seem to be aware of the fact, judges first. This brought a rare intervention from Quebec’s Justice Minister, Bertrand St-Arnaud, asking that crown prosecutors consider drunk drivers for what they are: criminals who have a slim chance of getting caught, by the way; about 1 in 500.
And when they are that unlucky, they always deny the facts. They are the victims of an unjust system singling them out for a minor infraction, like a speeding ticket. Nothing more.
Mind you, while we truly believe that if our roads were in good condition and cars in excellent condition with drivers in top shape, that speed limits could go higher if traffic was light and weather permitting, still, the penalty for drunk driving is minimal. A $600 fine, 4 demerit points. A slap on the wrist, a don’t do it again type of thing. But drive fast, and you get 24, 30 demerit points and at least a $1,500 fine.
Now driving while drunk can easily be likened to carrying a loaded firearm in a shopping mall at Christmas time. It would not take much for a disaster to happen and someone doing this in Quebec would be sent to jail immediately.
The time to adjust is now. The federal government is responsible for the Criminal Code aspect, it should revise it immediately so that a first offender receive a 15 day imprisonment term, most would be suspended, but the stigma of having a prison term attached to you would be a good deterrent. Fines should be adapted to today’s reality: a minimum of $2,000 seems reasonable with the offending vehicle held in lieu of bond if the amount of the fine is not paid immediately on site. This is current in the USA, when you pay the fine to the officer on the spot. At the second offense, a minimum 30 days in jail should be imposed and the fine upped to $5,000. In lieu of the jail time, a yearlong therapy, paid by the accused, should be acceptable. Needless to say, we don’t believe that nothing except seizure of the vehicle, a fine of $50,000, a prison term of 2 years should be imposed to anybody stupid enough to be caught more than twice.
Quebec also has a duty. The rule should be a limited permit, not the idiotic 4 points of demerits, with the obligatory alcohol sensors installed in any vehicle that the drivers would use. With a huge fine for those who don’t follow the rules.
If not, well, why stop at 17 times? The record seems to be in the twenties…
The public transport committee of the Memphremagog MRC is questioning an aspect of accessibility to education which often goes unnoticed: the physical accessibility by the average person to public transport. We represent the citizens of Orford County, situated not far from a university and a cegep but where the number of people holding a university degree is four points below the Quebec average, at 22.1% when the average is 26.2%. Furthermore, presently, more than five hundred students at the come from our MRC.
One of the main problems encountered here, as in other regions, is the difficulty in attending educational institutions without the service of public transport. Students, used to taking school transport for their elementary and high school education, are confronted with difficulties once they reach cegep and university. Unfortunately, in rural zones relatively close to city centres, it is rare to have access to a system of organized transport.
The students who live in these areas must pay for their transport, something which greatly increases the cost of their studies. When the family can afford to buy a vehicle, the student is helped by the time saved, the reduction of worry, and school results improve. The marks of students who live with their parents are statistically better than the average. The socio-economic milieu is therefore a determining factor in the pursuit and success of an after-high school education.
Some young people who are less well-off see no other alternative but to leave the region, often for good. Consider, for example, those from the city of Magog who go to Cegep or to university in Sherbrooke, 30 kilometres away: the transport will cost them a minimum of $200 per month, despite the fact that the two municipalities are beside each other. They may get a loan from the government of $91 a month in the absence of public transport. They are therefore obliged to work just so they can get to school, something that takes time and energy, reducing the energy available for school work, forcing them sometimes to move, and putting them more into debt. We consider this unacceptable that the students must pay for the inexistence of public transport, which should be available to the entire population.
We demand that the Government of Quebec oblige all MRC’s (regional municipal counties) to put in place efficient, public transport and ensure that it is accessible to the entire student population at a reasonable cost. The Comité pour le transport collectif dans la MRC
de Memphremagog www.transmemphre.com