However, a Twitter conversation this morning about free votes spurred me to do a bit of research...
A notable PC MLA in south-east Calgary stated, in the Legislative Assembly while in defense of the bill they introduced targeting drinking & driving:
"It is clear that more can be done to address this problem and stop unnecessarily placing the lives of Albertans at risk. If this were Utopia, the federal government would have invoked a zero tolerance in the Criminal Code long ago... This Assembly cannot change the Criminal Code. It is out of our jurisdiction. What we can do is write our own traffic laws in the interest of public safety. This is what my bill does. It prevents drivers who blow over .05 BAC to the legal limit from driving for 24 hours. It is very simple. It is a reasonable request, and it is the right thing to do."Later on:
"(the bill) is not going to take drivers with a BAC of .05 to .08 and lock them away and throw away the key. It simply takes a driver who is a danger to public safety and removes his or her driving privileges for 24 hours. What (the bill) is saying is that drinking and driving hurts everyone involved, so just don’t do it. Having a 24-hour suspension is certainly going to make anyone think about it before they drive having had a couple, because in fact many impaired driving accidents happen after only a couple. This legislation will work in keeping drinking drivers off the road, making our roads safer for all Albertans. Having a licence suspension for 24 hours for drivers in that range is a small initiative that will pay huge dividends by saving the lives of Albertans."Pretty standard fare, coming from Solicitor General Jonathan Denis in defence of Bill 26, the "0.05 Law".
Only problem is: Those words aren't being spoken by Jonathan Denis.
They're being spoken by Heather Forsyth, the PC MLA for Calgary-Fish Creek, on November 15th, 2000 to support her Private Member's Bill 210: The Traffic Safety Amendment Act (2000).
If you replace "24 hours" with "72 hours", it's the same Bill that Denis and the PC Government passed last December to curtail drunk driving.
One wonders how Forsyth feels about this piece of literature being distributed in Calgary-Acadia, just across Anderson Road from her own constituency, by fellow Wildrose candidate Richard Jones.
If a Wildrose Government will, as Jones contends, "overturn the 'one-drink-no-driving' .05 law... that turns every day Albertans into criminals", I expect that, as the Wildrose advocates for free votes, Forsyth would oppose this step in the Legislature. After all... 11 years ago, she didn't just SUPPORT a 0.05 law - she INTRODUCED it. It was HER BILL. It was "the right thing to do", and was going to "save the lives of Albertans".
On December 6, 2011, Bill 26 came up for Third Reading, the final step before a Bill gets sent for Royal Assent (when it becomes law).
Forsyth, now the Whip for a Wildrose Party that says it believes in free votes, voted against.
I guess the people of Calgary-Fish Creek told her that the extra 48 hours of suspension was too high a price to pay to save lives.
Jones says that the Wildrose believes you should be allowed to drive without repercussions at 0.05 BAC.
Forsyth said in 2000 that taking drivers at 0.05 BAC off the road would save lives. Which seems to fly in the face of what Jones says is the policy of a Wildrose Government.
And in 2011, given a chance to prove her commitment to take what she had labelled life-risking drivers off the road and show her commitment to the principle of free votes, Forsyth instead voted along party lines and against Bill 26.
Actions speak louder than words.
So much for the Wildrose commitment to free votes.
p.s. - And YES, Wildrose supporters - I know the PC's are just as bad a lot of the time. But "Vote Wildrose - we're no worse than the PCs" isn't the slogan I've been hearing. If you're going to campaign on the notion of being better, more noble, and more democratic - you have to BE those things.