Hit drunk drivers hard

It’s time for the Canadian courts, for once and for all, to make a ruling on repeat drunk drivers and consider them as dangerous offenders.

It’s time for the Canadian courts, for once and for all, to make a ruling on repeat drunk drivers and consider them as dangerous offenders.

The public is sick and tired of seeing those drivers waltz out of court with a mere slap on the wrist, then make a bee-line to the nearest liquor store or bar.

Take killer driver Roger Walsh, for example. He pleaded guilty in a Quebec court recently to mowing down a woman in a wheelchair on her 47th birthday.

Anee Khudaverdian was out with her pup when a drunken Walsh slammed into her, then fled the scene. It was his 19th impaired driving charge.

The courts must protect the public and reflect the public’s abhorrence of particular crimes.

The criminal justice system must work to ensure that citizens can live peacefully and without fear.

In sentencing, the court must weigh the likelihood of the offender repeating an offence.

And the court must consider the rehabilitation of the offender.

In the Walsh case, the likelihood of rehabilitation seems less than remote.

In fact, legal history could be made today if Walsh is declared by Judge Michel Mercier in a Valleyfield, Que., courtroom as a dangerous offender.

Prosecutor Joey Dubois is seeking such a status. He is taking advantage of a 2008 Criminal Code amendment by the Steven Harper government in its Tackling Violent Crime Act. It allows the Crown to seek the dangerous offender status with a lengthy prison term — 20 years, followed by 10 years of close surveillance — as opposed to an indeterminate prison sentence under the old law.

Court heard that Walsh had been binge drinking and was more than double the .08 legal limit when he ended the life of Khudaverdian.

Stricken with polio and confined to a wheelchair since childhood, the victim lived for her daughter, whom she had at age 40. She had a rich life and loved animals and volunteered at local animal shelters.

A drunken Walsh, behind the wheel of a mini-van, smashed into her wheelchair, propelling her into a ditch. He was arrested less than 10 km away after driving into a ditch. In court, he pleaded guilty to hit-and-run causing death, impaired driving causing death and violating a court order barring him from drinking.

Besides his 19 impaired driving convictions, Walsh’s record includes 114 convictions for assault, uttering threats, breaking and entering, and theft.

Can he be labelled a dangerous offender?

University of Alberta law professor Sanjeev Anand says the Supreme Court of Canada has in the past directed the lower counts to use the dangerous offender label sparingly “unless the offender is the worst of the worst.”

But that was under prior legislation.

Today, beyond a reasonable doubt, Walsh is the “worst of the worst.”

The judge should pass sentence accordingly. It’s in the hands of that judge to set the precedent, then let the higher courts rule on the decision under the new legislation.

For the sake of lives, the rules must be laid out clearly.

Enough is enough.

Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rocky Mountain House RCMP are investigating a fatal collision involving a pedestrian on Feb. 27. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Rocky Mountain House RCMP investigate fatal pedestrian collision

Collision occured west of Rocky on Highway 11A

Dentists are skills at injections and can help get more Albertans vaccinated, says the Alberta Dental Association and College. (Pxhere)
Use dentists’ injection skills to get more Albertans vaccinated sooner, says association

Dentists can safely give patient injections and want to support the immunization effort

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

March will be dramatically warmer through the prairies

Bharat Masrani, CEO, TD Bank Group speaks at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

Shares in metals and mining companies have rebounded sharply

A worker carrying a disinfectant sprayer walks past a WestJet Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft, after cleaning another plane at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
WestJet to lay off undisclosed number of pilots amid labour negotiations

Layoff notices to go out ahead of the expiration of a memorandum of agreement

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

A ” Justice for Jeff” T-shirt. (Photo submitted)
Rally to be held outside Red Deer courthouse for slain Ponoka man

Sentencing for accused charged with manslaughter with a firearm set for March 4

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson makes a shot against Team Alberta as second Shannon Birchard, right, and lead Briane Meilleur sweep in the semi-final at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Kerri Einarson wins second straight Canadian women’s curling championship

Einarson and her teammates celebrated Sunday in the silence in an empty arena

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey hosted the Golden Globes on Feb. 28, 2021. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
With loved ones and pets, Globes winners embrace cozier show

Nicole Kidman and musician-husband Keith Urban got glammed up to sit on their couch

The cast of “Schitt’s Creek” pose for a photo after winning the Award for Best Comedy Series at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Schitt’s Creek nabs two Golden Globes for its final season

Catherine O’Hara named best television actress in a musical or comedy

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

Most Read