Head of MADD Canada calls on Nova Scotia premier to take action against drunk driving

A Mothers Against Drunk Driving leader in Nova Scotia says Premier Iain Rankin needs to toughen penalties for drunk driving after he admitted to being twice charged with drunk driving.

HALIFAX — The head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada says Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin's apology Monday for an impaired driving conviction in 2003 must be followed up with action on the issue.

Andrew Murie, CEO of MADD Canada, says Rankin should follow the examples of Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell, both of whom responded to drunk driving charges by taking a leadership role on the file.

In March 2003, Campbell was premier of British Columbia when he pleaded no contest to a drunk driving charge in Hawaii, following his roadside arrest two months earlier in Maui.

Murie said he was with Campbell when the Liberal premier later met with the victims of drunk drivers and committed to do more to deal with impaired drivers.

Last October, Moe was in the middle of a provincial election campaign when he revealed he had been charged with impaired driving and leaving the scene of an accident when he was 20 — but he said the 1994 charges were later stayed.

Murie said the premiers of Saskatchewan and B.C. both took decisive action to reduce drunk driving after the charges were made public — and Murie said Rankin should do the same.

"We're definitely looking for some leadership on the issue," Murie said in an interview Tuesday. "It's one thing to say, 'I'm sorry.' But can you actually put some of those words into action?"

On Monday, Rankin, 38, confirmed he was convicted of drunk driving in 2003 and was cleared of a second drunk driving charge in 2005. The premier made the announcement as speculation mounted about a provincial election call.

Rankin told reporters Monday he wanted to disclose his run-ins with the law because his office had received inquiries that morning about the previous cases.

The premier confirmed he was fined and his licence was suspended in 2003 for driving while impaired, and that he was charged two years later with the same offence but was declared "innocent."

He called his actions "selfish" and said he was "very, very sorry" for his behaviour.

Rankin said that when he first ran for office, he disclosed the incidents to former premier Stephen McNeil, and that he informed the Liberal party about them when he ran for leader and won in February.

"I moved on with my life, but it is known in my community where I grew up, in Timberlea-Prospect, and among all my friend groups," Rankin said of the charges. "Whenever I was asked, I never shied away (from discussing) that very poor decision I made."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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