Editorial – Name-and-shame game applies to drunk drivers and marijuana offenders

Mac Olsen

I certainly have no problem with shaming those convicted of drunk driving offences, as one police force in Ontario has recently decided to do. But the same argument can be made for marijuana users that violate the federal and provincial legislation, as well as municipal bylaws. The National Post had a story on December 4, about some police forces in Ontario making public the names of those convicted of repeated drunk driving offences as a strategy to shame them. Although the police don’t use the term name-and-shame specifically, they admit that their goal is to use humiliation as a route to compliance.

“The purpose is deterrence,” said Const. Andy Pattenden, a spokesman for York Regional Police. “We hope that people would be embarrassed to be charged for impaired driving, that they wouldn’t want their employer, their friends, their family knowing about it, because it is an embarrassing thing. Does shame come along with it? Absolutely.”

I unequivocally agree, as my mother was nearly killed by a drunk driver almost 29 years ago. He must have been doing more than 100 km/h, because the front ends of both vehicles were totally destroyed in the collision. That driver had no regard for public safety when he got behind the wheel of his vehicle but fortunately no other driver or pedestrian paid the price for his stupidity.

And assuming that he recovered from his injuries, if he proceeded to reoffend, I believe his license should have been revoked and I would have condoned a name-and-shame campaign against him. Zero tolerance for drunk driving offences is appropriate, and the repeat offenders have to be shamed for their actions.

As for marijuana offenders, I also advocate a zero-tolerance policy for any violations of federal, provincial or municipal legislation. That means anyone who consumes marijuana in a public place such as a park or campground, or around children.

To the lawyers and human rights advocates that denounce my zero-tolerance pronouncement, I say that it is my right and the right of like-minded citizens to not have marijuana smoke forced in my face and that right overrides any pretext and argument that they make for using it.

The name-and-shame game should be a tool to use against first-time and repeat offenders. No excuses should be accepted, simply punish the offenders with large fines, on the order of $1,000 or more for each offence. And make their names known in public, through social media and on bulletin boards, to send them the message that their misconduct is illegal and unacceptable. There is no room for negotiation with marijuana offenders, especially in the case for those who are shown in news reports lighting up in public places. They must receive the message that their spiteful conduct will not be tolerated, and if fines don’t work, then twist the thumbscrews and use the name-and-shame tactic on them.

In the end, just because marijuana has been legalized in Canada doesn’t mean that users can throw their weight around and light up anywhere they want. If they try to do so, then society has to push back on them and put them in their place. Let the name-and-shame game against marijuana offenders begin and force those who violate the rules into full compliance with the laws of the land.

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