The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The pie ladies

There is no need to drive with any level of any intoxicating or impairing substance, from alcohol to medications to cellphones. Nothing is that urgent. Our ability to control our vehicles is far from perfect to begin with, but for now that is a risk society as a whole seems willing to accept: so long as the risk is not unnecessarily magnified.

Impaired driving is preventable. You were capable of judgement when you chose to become impaired. When you began drinking or picked up a cellphone, you knew the risks. You may choose to justify them to yourself -- not that drunk, good enough driver to get away with it -- but your self-justification does not make it so. If your judgement does not see why others should not be subjected to increased risk because of your choices, then the law must needs enforce it upon you.

That being said, Wladyslaw Bilski did not get a fair trial.

The case should have been straightforward. Bilski drank at least one beer and possibly as many as eight beers prior to driving off. Shortly thereafter, his van collided with a car on Keil Drive in Chatham. He survived. All four people in the other car were killed. Subsequent blood alcohol tests showed a blood alcohol level of three times the legal limit.

What the media immediately seized upon were the identities of those who had been killed.

From that moment forward, it was impossible to pick up a newspaper without reading about the four elderly "pie ladies" who always baked pies for their church's functions. They were even headed home from a church supper at the time of the collision. No matter what the story about this collision, it always, invariably, mentioned the "pie ladies".

Will justice be the same for these victims as it would have been had the victims been four unemployed, single men?

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