Why governing parties and journalists don’t much get along has to do with their very different approaches.

A governing party’s prime directive is to remain in power so it can do what it feels is best for the public.

But that isn’t always about telling the world like it is, but what they wish the world to be.

Journalists are bound by their commitment to their craft to tell it like it is, warts and all.

Sometimes, it doesn’t do much for the reputation of journalists, who the government and its supporters see as unnecessarily negative and eager to dwell on the bad news.

Any journalist, however, will tell you it’s never easy to be the bearer of bad news.

Maybe this is why journalists have a bit of empathy for governments that sometimes have to tell people what they don’t want to hear.

And there is a lot surrounding the amendments to the Traffic Safety Act – which is legislation that the government says will provide “more tools for law enforcement” to deal with drunk driving – that will not be popular.

Essentially, this is what the act will impose:

 -A three-day vehicle seizure “for experienced drivers who are charged for the first time with having a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .04.”

 -Zero tolerance for any driver 21 years and younger found with drugs and alcohol in their system, and

 -Far tougher ignition interlock laws that will extend their mandatory use to drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than .16, or who refuse to take a breathalyser. The interlock must be used for two years for the first offence, five years for the second and 10 years for the third and subsequent offences.

 In addition, the changes to take effect in the new year will also see Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) spend $800,000 on 32 additional automated licence plate readers to help police catch disqualified drivers. SGI will also provide $500,000 for police to increase impaired driving check stops.

One can certainly argue this is a long-overdue response to a problem as serious as any in this province.

 On a per capita basis, Saskatchewan has the highest rate of impaired driving fatalities in Canada. There were nearly 1,200 impaired driving collisions in 2015 that killed 53 people and injured 578 others.

Frankly, much of what was announced by SGI Minister Joe Hargrave and Justice Minister Gord Wyant had been proposed in committee by the NDP two years ago.

The government said at the time it was doing enough.

One suspects that the about-face by Premier Brad Wall’s government on drunk driving was at least partly driven by former deputy premier Don McMorris’s impaired driving conviction.

But whether this was a political face-saver or not, the reality is that these changes will still not be popular in certain circles.

Already, we are hearing the usual grumbling about how Saskatchewan has a sparse population with little traffic and without a good public transportation option.

This may not be a popular decision in rural Saskatchewan where we will undoubtedly hear from bar owners complaining this will be the end to their business

Rural Saskatchewan is a place where people have an amazing capacity to adjust.

Surely, creative solutions can be found to driving people home from bars and parties.

 For people like former MP Allan Kerpan – whose 25-year-old daughter Danille was killed in a 2014 crash caused by a drunk driver – rural Saskatchewan coming to terms with the reality of drunk driving is a must.

Kerpan noted the day of the announcement that his hometown of Kenaston has “three or four guys” who consistently drive drunk. Most rural Saskatchewan communities likely have similar numbers, he said.

Attitudes must change.

Unfortunately, what must come first are some unpopular law changes.

Source: Canora Courier


Last updated on: 2016-12-27 | Link to this post