Tory MP charged with refusing breathalyzer test
Published Monday, December 5, 2011 10:05PM EST
Conservative MP Peter Goldring has left the Tory caucus after being charged with refusing to blow into a breathalyzer over the weekend.
Goldring, the MP for Edmonton East, was pulled over at 12:30 a.m. Sunday by Edmonton Police Service officers on a roving patrol as part of a weekend Checkstop program.
The riding association's annual Christmas party was held earlier that night at the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex. Goldring was pulled over four blocks from the venue.
Government officials have confirmed Goldring has withdrawn from the Conservative caucus and will not return until the matter is resolved, saying the government takes drinking and driving very seriously.
The Conservative government cracked down on impaired driving in 2008 when it brought in tougher penalties, including longer sentences.
During Saturday's party, Goldring spent part of the night talking with guests about similar legislation that is currently under consideration in the province.
"There was some disagreement on how maybe it should be implemented," said Edmonton Coun. Tony Caterina.
A court date has yet to be confirmed. If convicted, Goldring could spend up to five years in jail.
Goldring has served as an MP since 1997, when he was first elected to Parliament for the Reform Party.
In 2009, he objected to a proposal by the advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which called for more roadside breath testing even when police did not believe a motorist had been drinking.
"It is safe to say everyone is opposed to drunk driving -- but there are civil liberty issues involved," read a message posted to Goldring's website. "There is the presumption of innocence and the right to not self incriminate...With the members of MADD, I am in favour of making our streets safer. However, I think this proposed legislation goes too far."
The legislation did not become law.
He also told a newspaper in 2003 that in the 1960s and 1970s, when he lived in Toronto, he drove along Highway 401 after having smoked marijuana.
"(I) realized the problems associated with trying to do that," he said at the time."
While Goldring is far from being a high-profile MP, he has had a few moments in the spotlight.
In response to a private member's bill that sought to overturn Louis Riel's treason conviction and name him a Father of Confederation, Goldring published a pamphlet depicting Riel as a villain with blood on his hands.
"Riel didn't 'father' Confederation; he fought those who did," Goldring said in his pamphlet. "To unhang Louis Riel and to mount a statue to him on Parliament Hill would elevate anarchy and civil disobedience to that of democratic statesmanship."
Goldring also advocated that Canada annex the Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos when the idea was floated under the Liberals.
With files from The Canadian Press and a report from CTV's Daniele Hamamdjian