The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, to which was referred Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, met this day at 10:30 a.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to speak before you today. In the interests of time, I would like you to know that I’ve deleted four paragraphs of my presentation. The reason for that is I believe you received a copy of my written statement.

That said, my name is Grace Pesa; I am from Calgary. I am a mother and a victim and now an advocate. I am sharing with you a personal tragedy in the hope that from my story and from what you’ve heard you will consider and study Bill C-46, reflect on why I am appealing for a mandatory minimum sentence in relation to impaired driving causing death.

To be here today is to reopen my trauma, and it’s not easy. My son Francis was killed by an impaired driver. He was 20. In the brief I provided to you, I provided a copy of the obituary and a news article written in Calgary, which will better introduce my son to you, so I will skip about Francis.

As for the case, I will highlight that Kulwinder Singh Chohan chose to drive while drinking, and he had been drinking since the day before. He caused a four-car multiple vehicle collision. Francis died five days after. From that collision, there were multiple injuries in the other cars that he had hit. From that collision, he was charged with impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing death with BAC over the limit. He pleaded guilty and he was sentenced to three years.

I will quote my oldest son on that sentence.

. . . you tell me, is that just? Is that representative of the loss my family has had? Is that representative of the loss potential of a 20 year old being gone forever? Unless heaven has visiting hours, I don’t think we can justify that coz his family can see him as much as they please but I will never see my brother again.

That is a question that to this day we continue to ask: Where is justice in this sentence?

I would like to make a four-point comment on the mandatory minimums that are being proposed.

Number one: A $1,000 fine for a convicted impaired driver that caused death is just beyond insulting.

Number two: A life killed is equivalent to only $1,000.

Number three: To an affluent individual, $1,000 is just loose change. As Sheri said, it was just a credit card charge.

Number four: The fact remains that this amount will never serve as a deterrent nor prevention. The lack of mandatory minimum sentences has continued and will continue to empower drunk drivers to choose their convenience over the lives of others.

Impaired driving causing death is not considered serious. It is to this day being referred to as an accident. My question: Where is the mandatory minimum sentence in impaired driving causing death? There should be and must be mandatory minimum prison sentences for killing a person.

For as long as impaired driving causing death continues in our society, we will never be protected or safe from this crime. There will be no deterrence or prevention. This is the reason why, as Markitas said, thousands of Canadians signed a petition for mandatory minimum sentences. Victims’ families like to see mandatory minimum sentences because we want to see deterrence, protection and prevention of this crime.

I have had the privilege of meeting other victims across the country — hundreds, in fact — and we continue to ask each other why there is no mandatory minimum sentence. Why is there such disparity between provinces in sentencing for the same crime? I have yet to meet an individual who does not support and is not in favour of mandatory minimums.

Becoming a victim can happen to anyone. This crime does not pick and choose. It can happen anywhere, any time. It is not a question of when, because we know there are four deaths a day. It is a question of who is next.

Before I end, I would like to re-emphasize why I’m here, and I will quote my oldest son:

If I had a choice, I wouldn’t wanna do this, I wouldn’t wanna expose all this, these are things I’d rather just keep in our family but if, if by doing so allows us to make a difference then I’d suffer through it. It’s not just for us anymore, it’s for the others who don’t have the courage to speak up and ask for change.

After all, if not now, when? If not here, where? If not me, who? You are in the position. The time is now, here, today. It will be too late once you are in my shoes, walking my walk and talking my talk.

Source: Parliament of Canada


Last updated on: 2018-03-27 | Link to this post