Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: The Senate Shouldn't Block Random Roadside Alcohol Tests

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: The Senate Shouldn't Block Random Roadside Alcohol Tests

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: The Senate shouldn't block random roadside alcohol tests

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published May 28:

It's bad enough that the Senate has been mulling over Bill C-46 at a snail's pace, if not an obstructionist one, since last November.

But now the Senate's legal affairs committee has watered down this important legislation, which would tighten rules on impaired driving, just as the government is set to legalize cannabis consumption.

It did so by passing an amendment last week to delete an important provision in the bill that would allow police to conduct random roadside breathalyzer tests when they suspect a driver may be impaired by alcohol.

This is a potentially deadly move for two reasons.

First, it puts the lives of people across the country at risk from drunk drivers who remain convinced they won't be caught. In fact, the Senate committee passed the amendment in the face of evidence that random testing has caused impaired driving rates to drop in countries that employ it, such as Australia and Ireland.

Second, the amendment sets up the very real possibility that the bill, which enhances police authority to arrest all drug-impaired drivers, won't be in place before legislation which governs the legal sale and distribution of cannabis is passed.

That's because Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has made it clear she will insist on putting random testing back into Bill C-46 before the government will pass it into law. Any back-and-forth fight between the Senate and the House of Commons on the issue of random testing will only delay the bill's passing.

Further, the government has warned it won't hold up the companion cannabis act, Bill C-45, leading to the possibility that consuming weed will be legal before authorities have tougher impaired driving regulations in place.

It's hard to know what the senators who passed the amendment were thinking.

The charge was led by Conservatives, even though that party has been a cheerleader for random testing for alcohol impairment in the past. Indeed, Conservative MP and former minister Steven Blaney once introduced a private member's bill to introduce random testing. …

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