McGuinty quashes drinking age proposal

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Young adults across the province can breathe easy: Premier Dalton McGuinty has nipped the issue of raising the drinking age square in the Budweiser.

When asked what he thought about raising the drinking age, as proposed by the Middlesex-London Health Unit Board of Health, McGuinty said he believed the current balance struck between laws and parental involvement was sufficient.

“When we talk about the age to begin drinking alcohol we have a law, it’s true. But we must also remember that parents must impress upon [their children] the dangers associated with alcoholic beverages,” McGuinty said to the press before a Liberal caucus meeting.

“If you are going to rely on the law to ensure that your kids are not going to be drinking underage then you do not have a good understanding of human nature,” he added.

But not all of the recommendations are bad news.

Andrew Murie, chief executive officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, felt some of the MLHU’s proposals had merit, such as lowering the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from 0.08 per cent to 0.05 per cent.

Though Murie was unsure what the purpose of raising the legal drinking age would be, he agreed with the recommendation to mandate a zero BAC for all drivers under the age of 21.

“Zero BAC until 21 is one of [MADD’s] longstanding policies … Really, if you want to deal with drunk driving among young people, that’s the measure that will work,” Murie said.

He stressed the need for the MLHU to advocate policies the public could support.

“The principles are right, but there hasn’t been a lot of thought put into how to enact [the proposals] that would be politically and publicly acceptable,” Murie said.

“It’s one thing to have research, but you have to make sure research will achieve the goal and be accepted by the public.”

While McGuinty may not want to raise the drinking age, the government is always open to advice, Ontario government spokesperson Jane Almeida said.

“The government is always open to looking at recommendations and obtaining the best advice,” Almeida said.

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