Many in Sask. OK with drinking and driving in certain situations: poll
A substantial portion of Saskatchewan residents think it’s OK to drink and drive under certain conditions, a new poll suggests.
The poll, released by Mainstreet on Friday, surveyed 1,690 people and explored Saskatchewan’s political landscape as well as residents’ views on drinking and driving.
Nearly 20 per cent of respondents said driving under the influence of alcohol was OK for a short distance on a quiet road.
“Saskatchewan has been labeled the ‘drinking and driving’ capital of Canada in the past and we’re seeing some interesting numbers in the polling,” said David Valentin, Mainstreet Research’s executive vice-president.
“Perhaps the most interesting number in the survey is what happened when we presented a specific scenario to respondents: would it be OK to drive under the influence of alcohol if someone was driving a short distance on a quiet road?”
Nineteen per cent of those surveyed said it was OK, while 15 per cent of respondents said they’ve been a passenger in a car with a driver under the influence of alcohol and eight per cent said they’ve driven under the influence.
Dr. Peter Butt, an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan who specializes in addictions, said the province’s culture is a factor in the mentality of impaired drivers.
“I think you could look at it in a number of ways in terms of the Saskatchewan culture, still dominated by rural culture where there’s a great distance between perhaps a drinking establishment, or a party, and getting home,” he said.
The poll also asked for respondents’ views on the recent impaired driving charge laid against Don McMorris.
McMorris, a now-independent MLA, resigned from cabinet and left the Saskatchewan Party caucus after the charge was laid earlier this month.
A majority – 68 per cent – of respondents said he should not seek re-election when his term is over.
“It may have been easier for a backbencher or a different minister to weather this kind of controversy. However, Mr. McMorris was the minister leading the charge against drinking and driving in the province and was then caught doing exactly that,” Valentin said.
McMorris was serving as deputy premier and minister responsible for Crown Investments Corporation, Saskatchewan Government Insurance, Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority and the Public Service Commission before his resignation.
In terms of provincial politics, the poll found a drop in Saskatchewan Party support, with the NDP rising five per cent among those decided and leaning – though Premier Brad Wall’s approval rating remained mostly unchanged.
The poll carries a margin of error of plus or minus 2.38 per cent, 19 times out of 20, and was conducted Aug. 22 and 23.
--- based on a report by CTV Saskatoon's Emily Pasiuk