Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Alberta nannies

Oh, Alberta. What happened? Back when I was in Manitoba, Alberta was the wild West of Canada - its Texas. Birthplace of the Reform Party, assassin of political correctness, emblem of everything that the rest of Canada wasn't.

And now Lorne Gunter tells me Nanny became Premier via a Tory leadership convention. She's pushing the drink driving limit down from .08 to .05 and aiming to ban smoking in cars. Writes Gunter:
When I pointed out in these pages that even the Traffic Injury Research Foundation thinks it’s a bad idea to impose harsh punishments on low-blood-alcohol drivers, and that instructing police to crack down on social drinkers will mean they have fewer resources to stop habitual drunks, who are the true problem, Ms. Redford had her Transportation Minister, Ray Danyluk, write the Post to say how wrong I was. Mr. Danyluk insisted that drivers above .05 but below the legal limit in the Criminal Code may have caused as many as 28 deaths over the past five years.

Yes, Mr. Danyluk, but would your premier’s intrusive new law have saved them all, or even most of them?
And, further, do we have any clue whether that's a high or a low accident rate given the number of drivers on the road who have BAC between .05 and .08? It's impossible to tell unless the police start releasing stats on the proportion of drivers on breath-check who have that BAC - we need to know the base rate.
Bad things will continue to happen no matter how much social engineering nanny statists engage in. What’s more, on a cost-benefit basis, trying to save 10 or 15 deaths over five years (two to three a year) by harassing tens of thousands of law-abiding drivers is a poor use of resources and could lead to that many extra deaths being caused by criminally drunk drivers who will now escape detection.
A statistical life is worth about $7 million. Suppose that the legislation worked and saved 5 lives per year: $35 million. Add to that a bit of reduced injury cost and property damage. But net out enforcement costs and reduced consumer surplus from folks now too scared to have a glass of wine with dinner... tough call to say there's any prima facie case that this passes cost benefit even assuming that Danyluk's numbers are right. And they're probably not because of failure to account for base rates.
But not content to stop with her pokenose new drinking and driving law — sorry, make that sipping and driving law — Ms. Rutherford now intends to crack down on smoking. She proposes to ban smoking in vehicles with passengers 16 and under and to ban the scourge of flavoured tobacco.

The American satirist H.L. Mencken once wrote that a puritan is a person with a “haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.” Premier Redford is one of the new health and safety puritans who worries constantly that others may not be as informed as she is and so are engaging in vices that are bad for their health.
And, Alberta has a tendency of keeping Premiers around for a while.


  1. With that drinking in cars and that in Alberta Eric, and not being to harsh on low alcohol blood test, I think it ok if the same extension be given to hash smoker in car, like only one hash cooky per trip across canada dude, what you think

  2. Man, I wish New Zealand had a Prime Minister who was that hot. :)

  3. The leftward drift of the Alberta PC's can also be attributed to all the Easterners bringing the voting habits that ruined their provinces Westward.