Canada briefs – September 10

It’s not the sentence they were looking for, but Crown prosecutors say a legal precedent was still set Wednesday.

Life sentence for drunk driver

SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD, Que. — It’s not the sentence they were looking for, but Crown prosecutors say a legal precedent was still set Wednesday.

A Canadian court has, for the first time ever, sentenced a drunk driver to life in prison, said Crown lawyer Joey Dubois.

Roger Walsh, 57, was handed the ruling in a courtroom west of Montreal. He pleaded guilty to mowing down a wheelchair-bound woman last year after a night of binge drinking.

It was his 19th drunk-driving conviction.

Quebec court judge Michel Mercier declared the man incorrigible and said he would be likely to reoffend.

But he did not hand prosecutors the legal prize they were hoping for: dangerous offender status for Walsh. The Crown had been seeking to make Walsh the first Canadian subjected to that designation for drunk driving.

The judge concluded that the designation — which has been reserved for the worst criminals, did not apply in this case.

Ignatieff hurt by election talk: poll

OTTAWA — A new poll suggests Canadians think Michael Ignatieff is wrong to try to force an election this fall and the Liberal leader’s popularity has nosedived.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey also suggests Liberal fortunes have dipped, with the Conservatives taking a slight lead nationally — 34 per cent to 31.

The NDP was at 15 per cent, the Greens at 10, and the Bloc Quebecois at eight.

According to the poll, respondents with a negative impression of Ignatieff jumped 15 points from March, to 41 per cent.

Thirty-nine per cent had a favourable impression, down six points.

Stephen Harper isn’t doing much better — impressions of the prime minister remained virtually unchanged with 44 per cent having a favourable opinion and 45 per cent having an unfavourable opinion.

The poll of more than 2,000 Canadians was conducted Aug. 27 to Sept. 6 and is considered accurate to within 2.2 percentage points 19 times in 20.

Thatcher profits may go to children

REGINA — The Saskatchewan government says it will go after the profits of convicted wife killer Colin Thatcher’s book and the money could end up with his children.

Justice Minister Don Morgan says officials have finished reading the book and believe it is covered by a law meant to stop criminals from profiting from their stories. The law says the proceeds could go to victims, their family members or a victims fund.

Morgan acknowledges it’s possible that Thatcher’s three children with JoAnn Wilson could benefit, although he says no decision has been made.

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