Hon. Stuart S. Garson (Minister of Justice):
On Monday evening last the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) asked me a question, which is reported at page 2054 of Hansard, in reference to a report which had appeared in one of the Ottawa newspapers of that date, to the effect that a provision for compulsory blood tests for persons suspected of driving while drunk is being considered for inclusion in the Criminal Code. He wanted to know whether that report was correct. The newspaper report states that federal authorities now feel that the science of blood testing to establish alcohol content and relating the information to the driving capacity of a car operator has reached the point where it could be used in connection with prosecutions.
The source of this news report is not disclosed, but I should like to state emphatically that there is not the slightest foundation in fact for it. Neither the Department of Justice nor the Criminal Code revision commission has under consideration a proposal to amend the Criminal Code to compel persons accused of drunken driving to submit to the taking of a blood test.
Some time previously another newspaper contained a report that I had addressed communications to the attorneys general of the provinces proposing changes to be made in the law respecting drunken driving. I had not written any such letters, nor had I under consideration any proposal to do so. I concluded that this previous news report had some connection with the fact that the Criminal Code revision commission, which was sitting at Ottawa at the time, had given a direction to its secretary to submit two questions to the deputy attorney general of each province, asking first, whether, as a result of experience in enforcing section 285 of the
Criminal Code, they would favour retaining the provision of the law that calls for a minimum sentence of imprisonment on conviction of drunken driving, and, second, what compulsory period of suspension of the driver's licence they would favour as a result of their experience.
At the present time these are the only matters relating to the drunken driving provisions of the Criminal Code that are under consideration.
Subtopic: REPORTED PROVISION FOR COMPULSORY BLOOD TESTS OF INTOXICATED DRIVERS