An Alberta mother who lost her son to an alleged drunk driver nearly two years ago says a meeting with Canada’s Justice Minister went even better than she had hoped Thursday.

Sheri Arsenault’s son, Bradley, and his two friends were killed in a collision involving an alleged impaired driver near Beaumont in November 2011. Since then, she’s made it her mission to push for stricter impaired driving laws across Canada. The Families for Justice organization she’s involved with has collected over 35,000 signatures on a petition calling for stricter regulations. “We are asking for mandatory minimums of five years for those convicted of drunk driving and causing death. And we’re also asking for it to be changed to vehicular manslaughter,” Arsenault said.


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Arsenault was scheduled to meet with former Justice Minister Rob Nicholson early last week. But the meeting was cancelled due to a federal cabinet shuffle. On Thursday, Arsenault had the chance to meet one-on-one with newly appointed Minister of Justice Peter MacKay.

“My feeling is he truly, truly wants to help and he wants to do something to protect all of us,” she explained. “He realizes that this is a problem across the whole country… He sees it for the crime it is and that, to me, is encouraging.”

“I recall vividly, a judge making a statement in a trial that I was prosecuting to the accused that driving down the road while under the effect of drugs or alcohol is no different than pointing a gun at another human being. It is that serious and can have that kind of affect, devastating affect on a person’s life,” MacKay said.

“There is a need, in my view, to make certain changes to the criminal code pertaining to impaired driving charges.”

The meeting comes as MacKay makes his way across the country, engaging Canadians about the creation of a Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.

“The justice system is personal, it affects you, sometimes for life,” he said during a round table discussion in downtown Edmonton Thursday. “The proverbial scales of justice have tipped too far away from innocent citizens, and in favour of the criminals…Victims often feel that they don’t have an effective voice.”

MacKay hopes to introduce a Victims Bill of Rights this fall, but says he wants to get it right.

“A Victims Bill of Rights, I think, provides clarity, it provides information, it provides a very clear signal of the importance that we place on the protection of victims and Canadians generally.”

Arsenault says those words give victims like her a glimmer of hope.

“I’m walking away, I’m happy. I’m happy for Families for Justice,” she said. “To me, it feels like it’s going in the right direction. It truly does.

“We’re going to keep going until we can turn the lights off. Everybody’s children get home safe.”

To get involved in the consultation process surrounding the creation of a Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, visit the Government of Canada’s website.


Source: Global News Edmonton


Last updated on: 2013-07-25 | Link to this post