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Feel the need for weed; drug driving cases soar in Canada

Analysts said 6,453 police-reported incidents of drug-impaired driving in 2019, the first full year of legalization, “a 43% increase over 2018.”

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Cases of driving while stoned have skyrocketed in Canada.

Blacklock’s Reporter says the number of police charges for drug-impaired driving jumped 43% after Parliament legalized marijuana. Prosecutors had predicted the surge of cases once a 95-year criminal ban on recreational cannabis was repealed.

“Drug-impaired driving is significantly under detected,” StatsCan wrote in a report Thursday.

“Drugs may be involved as often, or maybe more often, than alcohol in impaired driving incidents.”

Analysts said 6,453 police-reported incidents of drug-impaired driving in 2019, the first full year of legalization, “a 43% increase over 2018.”

Unlike drinking and driving charges that peak in twilight hours, “the rate of drug-impaired driving varies little from one time of day to another,” said the report.

“Police reported just as many of these incidents between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., as between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m,.” wrote analysts.

Cases also took twice as long to wind through the courts as alcohol-related charges.

Crown prosecutors in 2018 testimony at the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee predicted a wave of cases would clog court proceedings once marijuana was legal.

“The system is not prepared to absorb all the implications of this,” testified James Palangio, representing the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel.

“If the question is, do we have enough on the ground for the coming into force of legalization? I don’t think we do, but we’re doing the best we can.”

Statistics Canada in a 2018 report said it took courts an average 245 days to clear drug-impaired driving cases compared to 114 days for drinking and driving incidents.

“Drug-impaired cases require more appearances on average (seven) than alcohol impaired cases (five),” wrote staff

Lawyers testified cannabis legislation would result in more police charges, trials, appeals and delays in provincial courts.

“This litigation will go on for a decade,” said Michael Edelson, a criminal defence lawyer with Edelson & Friedman LLP of Ottawa.

“Previous legislative changes in this area have spawned a massive number of trials and appeals, not only challenging the constitutionality of provisions but the science associated with them.”

Parliament passed Bill C-46, setting drug impairment limits at five billionths of a gram of the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, per one millilitre of blood.

The Canadian Criminal Justice Association testified it was difficult for marijuana users to know if they were in compliance with the law, or whether the five nanogram limit adequately defined impairment for individuals based on body size and history of cannabis use.

“It depends on so many factors,” testified Howard Bebbington, then-chair of the Association’s policy review committee.

“We’re not scientists, we’re not biologists, we’re not toxicologists, but we seriously question the evidence base and suggest the government might want to delay those provisions until the science is better.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby769

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Kenney says leadership review now would be ‘grossly irresponsible’

When asked at a Tuesday press conference by the Toronto Star about the Mullan letter, Kenney responded there has been opposition to his health care policy “since Day 1.”

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney last night rejected any calls for an immediate leadership review of him as “grossly irresponsible.”

Kenney has been under withering attacks for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis in Alberta, which led to the “resignation” Tuesday of Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

A UCP caucus meeting is set for Wednesday and Kenney’s leadership is expected to be the main point of discussion.

Dozens of grassroots UCP constituency associations have joined forces to call for an early leadership review of Kenney. The party currently has one scheduled in late 2022, only six months before the next provincial election.

UCP VP of policy Joel Mullan wrote an open letter in the Western Standard Tuesday called for Kenney to go immediately.

When asked at a Tuesday press conference by the Toronto Star about the Mullan letter, Kenney responded there has been opposition to his health care policy “since Day 1.”

“My responsibility is to look at the reality — not wish it away — and take the necessary steps to protect the health care system,” Kenney said.

“Let’s deal with those things at the right time, after this crisis.”

Kenney was asked if the internal turmoil within the UCP was what led to the resignation of Shandro.

“I am focused on getting through the fourth wave of COVID, not politics,” Kenney said.

“We have to protect the health care system to prevent needless deaths — we will not allow politics to distract us.”

Kenney said he knew when he brought in the fourth wave of COVID-19 lockdowns last week and flip-flopped on his promise not to bring in vaccine passports there would be internal grumblings.

He said the COVID-19 cabinet committee has had 12 hours of “respectful” meeting time with the full UCP caucus.

Kenney pointed out the People’s Party of Canada, which ran on an anti-vaccination platform, took 8% of the vote in Alberta in the federal election.

“Let me be blunt, those people likely voted for me in the last provincial election,” Kenney said.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Kenney said shuffle was ‘time for a fresh start’

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said 29 Albertans died in the last 24 hours from COVID-19, including people who had been doubled-vaxxed, but included many people who hadn’t received any vaccinations at all.

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Tyler Shandro wasn’t fired as health minister, he resigned, says Premier Jason Kenney.

Answering questions after Tuesday’s cabinet shuffle, Kenney said he accepted the resignation from Shandro from the health portfolio.

“Tyler’s dedication to the job has never been questioned. He brought his heart to the job,” Kenney said.

“It’s time for a fresh start.”

Kenney denied the shuffle was done to appease critics in the UCP caucus clamouring for action.

“We are focused on getting through the fourth wave of COVID-19, not politics,” said Kenney.

Kenney promoted Labour Minister Jason Copping to health and put Shandro in his old portfolio in labour.

Kenney said bringing in vaccine passports has had a dramatic effect on the number of people getting vaccinated.

A total of 23,000 people were vaccinated on Monday with 78,000 jabs being given out in the last few days.

A total of 81.4% of people have received at least one vaccine with 72.8% having two jabs.

Since they were made available on Sunday, more than two million Albertans printed out their vaccination passports, Kenney said.

He said Alberta Health Services has expanded the number of ICU beds in the province to 337.

Copping said he was honoured to be named health minister in this “pivotal time.”

He said he has three goals: to increase hospital capacities permanently, educate the unvaccinated on why they should get jabs and to prepare the hospital system for any future waves of COVID.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said 29 Albertans had died in the last 24 hours from COVID-19, including people who had been doubled-vaxxed, but included many people who hadn’t received any vaccinations at all.

She said the province had identified 1,500 new cases in the last day from 13,600 tests for an 11.1% positivity rate.

There are 996 people in hospital as of September 21 with COVID, and 222 in ICU.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Jean thinking about Fort Mac by-election run

On Tuesday, Jean posted a picture of himself speaking on a mic with a graphic of the riding.

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Former Wildrose leader Brian Jean is musing whether or not to run in a by-election in Fort McMurray.

On Tuesday, Jean posted a picture of himself speaking on a mike with a graphic of the riding behind him.

“There is a byelection coming soon in my old riding in Fort McMurray. Should I run?” he asks Facebook followers.

“Let me know in the comments. Sign up on my webpage for updates.”

The riding was left vacate recently when UCP MLA Laila Goodridge resigned to run for the federal Conservatives. She easily won the riding capturing 67% of the vote.

Jean was the leader of the original Wildrose and was leader of the Opposition from 2015 to 2017.

He ran for the leadership of the UCP, but lost the race to Jason Kenney.

Jean has been increasingly slamming Kenney from the sidelines over his handling of numerous issues.

He called on Kenney to resign after his infamous Sky Palace dinner.

Jean, called on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to resign in the wake of the Sky Palace Scandal.

“FOR THE GOOD OF THE UCP, FOR THE GOOD OF ALBERTA, IT IS TIME FOR JASON KENNEY TO RESIGN,” Jean wrote in capital letters on his Facebook page.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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