In the last 10 years, at least 600 people in Saskatchewan have died due to drinking and driving. Among them are are Jordan and Chanda Van de Vorst, their daughter Kamryn, age 5, and their son Miguire, age 2.

The senseless loss of this young family led to an outpouring of pain and outrage from the public, and put the driver who hit them — Catherine McKay — behind bars for 10 years.

Now, for the first time, Saskatchewan Government Insurance is taking legal action against the bars where alcohol was served to the perpetrator of a drunk driving accident. 

“This legal action is about accountability for a collision that killed an entire family. The person who chooses to drive impaired clearly is accountable for their actions. But we need to recognize that if a person is impaired, their judgment is also impaired. Those around them need to take action to ensure no lives are put at risk,” said Earl Cameron, executive vice-president of SGI.

He goes on to say when a business is selling alcohol for profit, there is a higher degree of responsibility.

Cameron is right. This is a societal problem, and many different segments will play a role in getting the problem under control. It will be up to the courts to decide just how much responsibility the bars that allegedly served McKay should take.

SGI has been getting a rough reaction to this lawsuit — perhaps rougher than expected. There was an especially unhappy reaction on Facebook to a video called Correcting Misconceptions: SGI suing liquor establishments. Commenters expressed worry about how heavy-handed SGI will be when it comes to suing businesses. Some found it hypocritical for the same government that reaps the rewards of liquor sales to sue private businesses that do the same.

“If SGI is setting a precedent, then I hope it will be consistent in its prosecution of every future case. Also, why does SGI continue to reissue licences to repeat drunk driving offenders? Maybe SGI should also accept more responsibility in this particular instance and in all future instances,” one person wrote.

Perhaps the public would be more supportive of SGI’s move to hold businesses accountable if it came with some increased support at the same time. What about an updated, intensive education campaign for those serving liquor that goes beyond the current Serve It Right course? How about a financial incentive that would encourage bars and pubs to offer free, safe rides home? Could a Crime Stoppers-type program especially created to target drunk drivers work?

Legal action alone — even if it is a legitimate tool when used wisely — won’t improve Saskatchewan’s dismal record of drunk driving.

Source: The Star Phoenix


Last updated on: 2017-08-20 | Link to this post