Amplifying our selfishness

Written by Brenda Schimke

The Alberta Government has introduced new rules to allow police to impose tougher penalties for impaired driving. 

Failing to take a breathalyzer test, or not taking a breathalyzer test when there are reasonable grounds to believe the driver is impaired, will result in a $1,000 fine, an immediate 90-day driver’s licence suspension and the vehicle seized for 30 days. 

After the 90 days, the driver can only use a vehicle with an ignition lock for one year and must complete a mandatory impaired driving course. Future violations are even harsher.

When similar measures were introduced in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, there were sharp declines in impaired driving charges. 

“These changes will help get impaired drivers off the road and free up court and police resources,” said Justice Minister Kaycee Madu.

Short-term forecasts by AHS and released by a whistleblower, showed that those in positions of power knew that their limited COVID preventative measures would result in rapid growth in infection rates, hospitalizations and death rates.

Premier Kenney invoked Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms to argue that individual rights are supreme even in a pandemic. Unfortunately, he was quoting the rights attributable to American citizens under their Constitution.

The Canadian Charter guarantees the rights and freedoms only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law and as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. Our statutes protect public welfare and members of disadvantaged groups before individual rights—the exact opposite of the U.S.

Kenney’s government finally gave municipal leaders the coverage, and some the courage, to enact mask-wearing by-laws. However, Kenney and Madu continue to send conflicting messages, first pleading with us to wear masks and then promoting American rights and freedoms.

Spitting is a criminal assault charge in Canada. It came into law in the 1940s when public health experts became aware of the transmission of contagious diseases through saliva, in particular TB, hepatitis and viral meningitis.

Similarly, scientists in 2020 have learned enough to confidently say the highly infectious COVID-19 virus is spread by the tiniest of droplets and aerosol emitted from mouths and noses. 

They have likewise confirmed that pre-vaccine, the virus can best be controlled if we are vigilant in personal hygiene, social distancing, limited contacts and mask wearing in public.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving estimate that every day in Canada four individuals are killed by impaired drivers. As of December 7, on average 46 Canadians die each day from COVID-19 and that number continues to rise.

Madu argued, and rightfully so, that tougher laws for impaired driving saves lives and frees up courts, police time and hospitals. He oversees a Justice Department that criminally charges those who spit at others. Yet he’s not prepared to enact and enforce harsh fines for those who openly flaunt COVID public health orders by attending anti-mask rallies in our COVID hotspot cities.

When Conservative politicians regularly misrepresent Canada’s Charter of Freedom and Rights, it is no wonder we become American in attitude and arrogance.

Some break out of the mould. Conservative Premier Pallister in Manitoba introduced a province-wide mask mandate and large fines for individuals and businesses who violated public health orders. It only took one anti-mask rally. Decisive and unpopular action was needed and he understood large fines are a powerful deterrent to bad public behaviour by generally law-abiding citizens.

COVID-19 droplets and aerosols are more dangerous to more people than spitting and impaired driving. 

Politicians during COVID unable to stand up for facts over ideology, will be judged harshly when history is written. Great leaders in crisis situations put aside the need to be ‘liked’ every moment by their base, and instead become pragmatic and empathic leaders able to make necessary and tough decisions.


Brenda Schimke

ECA Review

About the author

Brenda Schimke

Schimke is a Graduate with Distinction from the University of Alberta with a BCom degree. She has lived and worked in Alberta, BC and Ontario.