Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Coming soon to an Ontario neighbourhood near you -- prohibition

The Liberals are at it again, doing what they do best, being the moral arbiters deciding what is in our best interests. They are proposing amendments to the Highway Traffic Act to discriminate further against young drivers.

The drinking age in this province is 19. When I was young, it used to be 21. Then it was amended to 18, but after protests that such an age meant alcohol would show up in high school students, it was bumped to 19.

The new legislation will require, as a condition of holding a driver's license, that there be zero alcohol in the blood stream of any driver under 21 years of age. If you are 21 or older, you can have up to .049 as a level without consequence. This zero tolerance is itself an extension of the rule that has applied since the last age discriminatory amendment when the holder of the first temporary permit was obligated to be alcohol free.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (“MADD”) has been in the forefront of making accidents caused by excessive alcohol use a serious social and legal issue, and it is to be commended for that service.

But now it has turned into the old Women’s Temperance Union, the organization in our great-grandmothers’ days that lobbied furiously to have alcohol declared a prohibited substance. That was the law for a while here and more famously in the United States where it was uniformly ignored and led to the enormous rise of organized criminal associations that plague us to this day.

It will not be very long before MADD, which has been lobbying governments to lower alcohol level thresholds, will convince the government to make zero tolerance the standard for all drivers. In fact, I first heard about the changes on the radio, and the DJ was advocating it be applied to all drivers.

The government constantly justifies its intrusions by reminding us that driving is a privilege not a right. Yet, at the same time, it has overseen and approved the development of an economy that is totally dependent on driving and it is in the business of importing, wholesaling and retailing liquor.

A lot of our economy revolves around the socially accepted practice of drinking alcohol. The Ontario government sold $4.1 billion worth at last count, up about 10% overall. This contributed a net $1.5 billion to Ontario’s public coffers.

Studies have indicated that alcohol stays in the bloodstream for 24 hours.

Zero tolerance will mean no more stopping off at the bar for a drink before heading home, no more after hours business receptions, no more drinking at home and then driving to the mall the next morning, or to church, or to work the next day if you drank at night during the work week, no more dropping or picking the kids up at school, the hockey rink, or playground (take your pick) if you had a drink within the previous 24 hours, and on and on.

That would be a serious intrusion into our lives, and would effectively accomplish through the back door what MADD cannot do through the front door – ban alcohol altogether – or it would have the effect it had in the United States where everybody winked at criminality and scorned the authorities since the government made everybody criminals,

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