Prime Time Crime
(Published in the Abbotsford News week of Oct. 18, 2004)
Apply Drink-Drive ‘Crackdown’ To Drugs
New laws against those who drink and drive are welcome, especially in a province where no less than its own premier, Gordon Campbell, was busted for driving drunk during a Hawaiian vacation in January of 2003.
Back then, Our Gordo received credit and some respect for facing the music – and the media -- upon his return to sobriety and BC, after his police mugshot became the hottest pinup since Pamela Anderson. The Premier swore off the sauce, and apparently has kept that pledge ever since. He deserves to be praised for that.
When new laws regarding stricter enforcement, higher penalties and mandatory rehabilitation for drinking drivers were introduced into the Legislature this week, the ruling Liberals decided Da Preem had had enough exposure on the subject; and they made certain that Mr. Campbell was nowhere to be seen. Whilst that perhaps is understandable, politically, it sucks ethically and morally, in this scribe’s opinion, but that is not the point.
What British Columbians might be wise to be asking is not: “Where was Gord?” but rather: “Why aren’t the harsher treatment and penalties for repeat offenders being applied to the lowlifes who deal in selling illegal drugs, especially to our children?”
In a province where the putrefying court system sees three-time and/or ten-time drug pushers slapped gently on the wrist by judges who then send them back onto the streets to peddle their poison, a “crackdown” on them would better serve our society than the slightly-upgraded drinking-driving laws do. Bringing in some mandatory rehabilitation for the addicts would be welcomed, too, no doubt.
Statistics unveiled by Solicitor-General Rich Coleman to accompany the new laws targeting drunk drivers were shocking, absolutely. With a reported 40,000 roadside suspensions and 7,000 impaired-driving charges each year, BCers have reason to be concerned, especially with 25% of traffic fatalities being linked to drinking and driving. Here’s a sobering thought: Those stats work out to more than 109 suspensions per day, and 19 impaired drivers charged each day, when averaged out over the year.
Yet in the ever-growing world of illegal drug dealing, the crime associated with addictive hard drugs such as crack, cocaine, crystal meth and heroin makes those numbers look puny. From the thousands of home and vehicle break-ins each month to the hundreds of holdups and shootings just in Vancouver alone, let alone the rest of the province, there appears to be no law enforcement any more, just containment. And don’t even get me started on the lack of punishment from the courts and those aforementioned judges when it comes to the softer, more socially-acceptable illegal drug, marijuana. Even those associated with dealing in tons of pot know that they will get away with little punishment if they do get caught.
What else should we expect in a city in which the local council not only condones, but also actually supplies shooting galleries, a.k.a. as “safe-injection sites”, for junkies to shoot up their heroin and cocaine? And for those of you outside of Vancouver, who think it is just their problem, think again. This “experiment” will be coming to your city or town next, whether you, the citizens, want it or not.
So, cheer on the slightly stiffer penalties for the drunk driver, by all means. But also ask your local, provincial and federal politicians just whatinhell are they going to do about the dealers/pushers/addicts, and wheninhell are they going to do it?
Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.