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Prevention or punishment: What will curb impaired driving? J

ason Smith was a good kid. At 18, he was responsible, capable, a fine student. Like many young people his age, he had been suffering the ignominy of wearing braces for

the past few years and, on the day they came off, he thought he deserved to celebrate. His first mistake was to drive to

his friend’s house. His second was to celebrate too much. A big boy, over 6-foot-five, he felt he could have a couple of beers without being over the limit. Tat was his third mistake. At the end of the party, he got up

Bold Ideas Dorothy Dobbie

to leave, went to his car and real- ized that he had drunk too much. He called his mother to come and pick him up, then promptly passed out in his front seat, keys in the ig- nition. Tat was his final mistake. Mama came quickly, but not

quickly enough. By the time she arrived, Jason was nowhere to be seen and instead a police officer

was arranging for Jason’s car to be towed. Te attending policemen told her where her son had been taken. Tree years later – Jason is now 21 – he is still paying.

Mama put up $7,000 for a lawyer to fight the conviction on the grounds that he had no intention of driving his car – her arrival attested to that -- but to no avail. No leniency was extended to Jason because he had called his mother and not actually driven the car – he was in “control” by virtue of being in the front seat. Tis netted him a $1,000 fine, with a one-year suspension

of his driver’s license plus mandatory alcohol education at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba. To get this educa- tion, he had to shell out $625. His car was impounded for 30 days at a cost of $450 plus the towing fee. To this point, the financial penalty was already about $2,000. (Te conviction

also confers a criminal record on the person.) Although the conviction was for one year, it was really

for two years because, at the end of the suspension period, Jason was required to install an alcohol monitoring system (ignition interlock device, basically an in-car breathalyzer) which he must use for another year. You must pay a $250 “administration” fee to apply for the device through MPI. Then there is a $150 installation fee, followed by a $105 monthly “maintenance fee”. De-installation of the device costs another $50. Tis adds up to another $2,000. Te devices are very sensitive and can be triggered by

mouthwash and even certain foods. If your car requires other repair or service, the device must be “serviced” at additional cost. Trying to start the car with a dead battery, for example, could result in a charge of tampering with the device which is subject to a $1,000 fine, plus a possible six month prison term. Jason’s conviction has cost him and his family, to date,

almost $11,000. Without the lawyer, the price tag is still about $4,000. While the experience has taught Jason an important lesson, he says the biggest punishment was being not allowed to drive his car for a year. Te inconvenience of relying on others to get to and from school or of taking the

bus and sometimes walking for a couple of miles from the nearest bus stop to his home really made him think. Te money issues, not so much. In spite of this, recent changes in Manitoba have made it

mandatory that all convicted impaired drivers install the expensive ignition interlock system for at least a year when their original suspension ends in order to get their drivers license back. Previously, convicted drivers could opt out for a second year of driving to avoid having to install the costly device. Tis raises an important point: those who have the finan-

cial resources to pay heavily for their mistakes do so with annoyance but without real hardship. But what of those who don’t? Do the less affluent go to jail? Or do they quietly go on driving, gambling that they won’t get stopped? And what kind of a deterrent is that? Te justice minister swears that all these financial penal-

ties will teach people not to drink and drive, but the statistics don’t support this contention. Te number of impaired driv- ing incidents causing death almost doubled between 2008 and 2012 (2008-11; 2009-9; 2010-11; 2011–16; 2012-17). Bold idea

Driving while impaired is a serious issue, but clearly, heavy

monetary penalties are not working. Rather than treating offenders as criminals after the fact, society would be much better served if efforts were made to prevent impaired driv- ing from occurring. Why not double up the education through advertising and

other outreach programs? As a starter, students should be taught at school about the real effects of alcohol and drugs on immature brains. In addition, the costly after-conviction education pro-

gram from the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba could be administered as a preventative program before earning a driver’s license in the first place. Punishment is never an effective deterrent to bad behav-

iour. A prevention program may not fill as many pockets, but as in everything else, knowledge and education is the key.

Building an election platform based on a vision of success Twenty years from now, what do we want Manitoba to be known and celebrated for?

with policies that involve any degree of risk or creativity, says Chamber Executive Vice- President Loren Remillard. “It’s as though our political leadership has


forgotten that innovation built this province, and that creativity is the key to its future.” In 2011, Te Chamber challenged political

parties and voters to step outside the box, to think creatively and to act BOLD. And in 2016, Te Chamber will once again be advancing a new, BOLD provincial election platform that builds on this BOLD legacy. At the core of Manitoba BOLD is a vision of

“success” for our province. It is this critical piece that has and contin-

ues to be missing from the political discourse in Manitoba, especially during elections, Remillard says. “Twenty years from now, what do we want

Dave Angus

President and CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

Manitoba to look like, to be known and cel- ebrated for? What steps will we have taken to both seize the opportunities before us and to remove the barriers that held us back? If Manitoba wants to win the race, we must answer these questions.” Manitoba’s future deserves better than a “collection of participation ribbons,” he says.

ooking back over successive provincial elections, most political parties have chosen the road often travelled, rather than venturing out

Driving Manitoba BOLD are Te Chamber’s leadership

councils on Economic Competitiveness, Human Re- sources, Environment, Transportation, Pro- curement, Creative, Innovation and Retail. Established a year ago to provide strategic

advice and guidance on all Chamber policy matters, the leadership councils boast an impressive array of senior business leaders from across sectors. While their topic areas may differ, council members share a desire to advance a more robust, innovative busi- ness thought-leadership to move Manitoba forward. Peter Squire of the WinnipegREALTORS

Association, a member of the Economic Competitiveness Leadership Council, says the voice of business needs to be heard. “We need to be seen as a partner in build-

ing a better Manitoba. You can’t do it in isola- tion. Tere needs to a better alignment with the business community in our province’s strategic focus going forward,” Squire says. As an example, he cites the need for all of the main players to be involved in discus-

sions on railway relocation. However, his major concern going into the April provincial election remains fiscal management and taxation. “We’ve got to get a grip on our cost controls because of the increasing impact of financing our deficit, which is

crowding out other investment opportunities needed to build our economy, so we can be more competitive and attract business.” Work has begun, led by each of the leadership councils,

on crafting the 2016 Manitoba BOLD platform. Remillard says some of the ideas from the 2011 election

are still bold and will continue to be promoted, but Te Chamber is committed to unveiling a series of exciting new ideas and best practices from around the world. In addition to the ground-level work by the councils,

Te Chamber is reaching out to all members to bring for- ward ideas and recommendations to build the platform. “Now is the time to take all of those ideas talked about

over coffee, the approaches you’ve seen first-hand in your business or through your travels around the world, and to put them front and centre in our BOLD platform. We believe strongly that through these ideas – your ideas – that a future in which Manitoba wins can go from vision to reality.” From now until Jan. 15, 2016, all members are encour-

aged to send their BOLD recommendations to Loren Remillard at or call 204-944-3318 for further details. Following a board of directors review in February,

Te Chamber will meet with each of the political par- ties to discuss the ideas and engage the public in the call to BOLD action, all culminating in Te Chamber’s 2016 Provincial Leaders Debate on April 14 at the RBC Convention Centre.

scribes his role as deputy chief economist. It’s somewhat like trying to change the

Ahead of the curve: Western Business Outlook Conference “I

t’s a diff icult world I’ve picked,” laughs The Conference Board of Canada’s Pedro Antunes, as he de-

course of the Titanic, he freely admits. But at the same time, federal and provincial governments can impact the economy. Whether it’s through their fiscal and mon-

etary policies - infrastructure spending, tax breaks or simply creating the conditions for long-term economic growth – they can fine tune where our economy is heading, says Antunes, who will be a featured speaker at the 2016 Western Business Outlook Confer- ence in January, hosted in partnership with Te Chamber. Te Conference Board of Canada helps

governments in their planning by “painting a picture of the major assumptions,” based on a series of indicators, involving research, statistics and analysis.

4 Smart Biz “It’s like getting a second opinion,” he

says of the Conference Board’s quarterly forecasts. Such forecasts are generally a tool to know

what assumptions to make. “But in some cases, it’s hard to get at the

right assumptions.” Events, project timelines and volatility

in the markets are influenced by human decisions. For instance, the decision by the Saudis to pump more oil changed all as- sumptions. In Manitoba, the Bipole lll transmission

project has the potential to influence the economy and related assumptions, he says. However, it’s not only governments that

rely on these forecasts. Businesses too must make decisions based on what they expect for the future. “Tey need to have a plan in place and

need a sense of what is happening around them. Tey need to know the variables. If

they’re selling into the U.S., they need to know about the exchange and investment rates, the price of oil … “ Even if businesses only do business locally,

economic forecasts can help determine their costs, whether they should be hiring more staff or what investments they should make, he says. Heading into 2016, Manitoba’s economy

will be a “bright spot on the Canadian land- scape,” he adds. GDP growth is expected to be 2.8 per cent,

second only to British Columbia. While Manitoba may have lagged behind

Saskatchewan during the resource boom – producing roughly 50,000 barrels of oil per day – it’s well-positioned to take advantage of its very dynamic, diversified economy. “It’s steady as she goes. Manitoba is a good

place to be … recession proof.” Unemployment is expected to go down to about five per cent, while nationally it will

stay up at seven per cent. Manitoba will also do well servicing a

U.S. economy that is picking up, he says, citing manufacturing and transportation – especially the aerospace, bus and food sectors – as benefitting in the face of a weaker dollar. Construction will do well because of

Bipole, while residential construction has been off, but should be back in 2016, he says. The Western Business Outlook Con-

ference on Jan. 28 will provide a deeper dive into the numbers underpinning the economy from a global, national, provincial and municipal perspective. Mark Jones, chair of Te Chamber’s Eco-

nomic Leadership Council and a partner in Olafson and Jones Certified General Accountants, says the biggest value of such an economic forecast is that it’s Manitoba and Winnipeg-focused, comparing us to neighbouring provinces.

February 2016

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