Friday, June 27, 2008


It's time to free our roads from the dangers of drugged driving
David Berner
The Province

Driving while stoned on drugs is going out of fashion.

Just after Canada Day, police across the country will be empowered to pull you over and question your clear-headedness. If you don't agree to a roadside test, like walking a straight line, you may be required to go to a police station and possibly have to donate a blood, urine or saliva sample.

As soon as this new federal legislation came to light all the usual suspects raised the familiar hullabaloo about privacy and civil rights.

There are kinks to be worked out, no doubt. But the bottom line here is that anything that helps reduce our senseless road carnage should be welcomed.

Remember it was not politicians, but citizen groups like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and SADD (originally Students Against Driving Drunk, and now,

Students Against Destructive Decisions) who, through relentless lobbying, changed the laws and public perception. Before these pioneers, we all winked at the dimwit who downed fists full of martinis after work and hopped in the Chevy to drive home.

Don't you recognize how much our attitudes have changed?

Now we need one more shift -- tackling the problem of motorists driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

I don't have the figures to prove it, but I reckon at least half the people driving while impaired by chemicals are doing so with the aid of their friendly neighbourhood doctor, psychiatrist or pharmacist.

Prozac and Ritalin, for example, are among the world's most widely prescribed "medicines." Then there's diazepam, amitriptyline, chlorpromazine and a thousand psychotropic drugs found in the alphabet soup of modern pharmacology.

Google any one of these modern miracle workers and you will find pages of helpful descriptions and analyses.

In almost every case, in the tiniest print on the second or third page, you will find this modest instruction: "Use caution when driving or operating machinery."

This, of course, is after the customary warnings about possible side-effects like nausea, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness and fainting.

But the last time your doctor prescribed a little blue or pink "helper" to get you through the travails of life, did he or she happen to mention that maybe driving under their influence wasn't the best idea?

Does anyone remember the last time the B.C. Medical Association or the Canadian Psychiatric Association ran a public-information forum on the problems and responsibilities involved in taking powerful mood-changing chemicals and driving the Ford Exploder? Probably not.

The death and destruction on our roads is due to speed, alcohol, illegal drugs -- and both prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

It is time for each of us, as responsible patients, consumers and citizens, to be aware of the dangers involved. And it is time for the professionals to show the same care and concern.

© The Vancouver Province 2008

Canadian Moment

No foto ops, no flag waving.

Just a true and beautiful little encounter.

Last night, we squeezed in a short hit of tennis balls at a small public park near the Oak Street Bridge.

After, as we were heading for the car and some dinner at one of our favorite little Chinese restaurants (delicious, inexpensive, consistent and wonderful, friendly service), a little boy caught our attention.

Turns out his name is Nick, as in Nokolai or Nikolas. He was born here in Vancouver. He looks a little less than two. His mother is Russian and she is from a village near Odessa.

Sitting on the same bench were two ladies in their sixties, both from mainland China.

Soon, three languages were being tossed about - English, Russian and Mandarin.

I am a Canadian born Jew whose mother was born in Russia. My friend is from Guangzhou.

This entire episode lasted all of four minutes, tops.

And we got in the car and looked at each other and almost simultaneously said, "This is Canada at its best."

Justice on its Head

A federal court struck down "parts of" the Gomery enquiry, claiming that Justice G. was biased in his investigation of the Liberal sponsorship scandal.


Read the small print.

No one has yet accounted for the $40 Million of taxpayer money that Chretien and Pelletier filtered through various ad companies back to their own coffers.

Talk about Shoot the Messenger!

Quote of the Year

"It's a tax shift and it's revenue neutral."


Or should I say,


The Good Consul

Congratulations once again to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, BC's representative for children and youth.

She has issued yet another honest and courageous condemnation of the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

This time she focuses on the inevitability of kids "in care" graduating not to high school or college, but to crime and prison.

She has proven repeatedly to be a dedicated and rare civil servant.

It is astonishing that in his recent little shuffle of the cabinet deck, Mr. Campbell left the worst of the worst in place - namely, Minister Tom Christensen.

This is the clearest indicator that Campbell hasn't the first clue about these issues, or the first care.

Thursday Strollin' - Vancouver Style

Isn't that adorable?

Our intrepid Civil City Commissioner ($170,000? $150,000? Something very civil, to be sure), Geoff Plant slumming with the CEO's.

Hey, great name for a rock group. Slumming with the CO's.

See Jane touch a druggie. Watch Bob sniff a prostitute. Hear Gwen interview a loser.


Jacques Brel - Sons of/ Fils de The Greatest Anti-War Anthem Ever

Jacques Brel