The mother of a Sask. teen killed by a drunk driver isn’t interested in lambasting a former provincial minister charged with DUI – she wants people to learn from him.
Bonny Stevenson has advocated for impaired driving awareness ever since her 17-year-old son Quinn was killed by a drunk driver in Saskatoon on Aug. 3, 2013.
“To see a leader in our community make that error, it really speaks to how much more we have to get this message out,” Stevenson said.
“He should count himself fortunate he wasn’t in an accident and harmed someone else and ruined another family’s life.”
Her message has been simple and steadfast: no matter how many drinks, don’t get behind the wheel.
On Aug. 5, MLA Don McMorris was caught driving under the influence while on his way to Regina from Fort Qu’Appelle; he resigned the next day.
At the time of the impaired driving charge, McMorris was Saskatchewan’s deputy premier and minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority and Saskatchewan Government Insurance.
Through his work, the minister was involved in public campaigns urging people not to drink and drive; he also touted the province’s efforts on toughening penalties for impaired driving.
But for Stevenson, political status holds no weight when it comes to making what she calls a “judgment in error.”
“I don’t think anyone consciously sets out to have an evening of eating and drinking and get behind the wheel and get caught or kill someone,” she said.
“(McMorris) is still a human being; there’s a lot of people in leadership roles that have made those mistakes.”
Three sitting Saskatchewan MLAs have been charged with impaired driving: Terry Dennis, Scott Moe and Eric Olauson.
Stevenson said the challenge she sees is breaking down outdated ideas and attitudes towards drinking and driving.
“I think we still think, ‘Oh I had a drink before supper and then I had a drink with supper I should be OK,’” she said.
“The times have just changed, and I think the more we just step aside and realize it’s zero tolerance, it’ll all become much easier.”
As for harsher sentencing to deter drunk drivers, Stevenson said she has difficulty pinpointing a solid solution.
“I mean no, I don’t think (the sentence is) ever enough, but I don’t know if I can put my finger on what I do feel is enough, personally,” she said.
“I don’t know what that answer is; I do truly believe it’s prevention from making it happen again.”
In her son Quinn’s case, Robin Tyler John from Duck Lake was charged with seven counts including impaired driving causing death, driving over .08 causing death, dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death and criminal negligence causing death.
On Oct. 16, 2014, John pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison, followed by two years of probation and a three-year driving ban upon his release.