Should the legal drinking age be lowered to 18?
A resolution to lower the legal drinking age to 18 in Saskatchewan was passed at the SaskParty's convention Saturday. Members of the SaskParty youth came out en mass at the convention to support the resolution.
Steven Heidel argues that in other areas where the drinking age was dropped from 19 to 18, the amount of binge drinking among youth went down. “We understand as young people that the culture is that people will drink anyways around 18, and putting them in a safe location like a bar where they can be cut off by servers is a positive benefit."
But Donna Harpauer, the Minister Responsible for Liquor and Gaming, spoke against the resolution. She argues that just because other countries have lowered the drinking age, that doesn't mean Saskatchewan should. Alcohol is still the dominant contributing factor in fatal collisions here. Over the last decade there has been an average of 56 alcohol-involved fatal collisions a year.
“I go back to the fact that we do have communities that have substance issues. So we have to be cautious about our alcohol policies in the province,” says Harpauer.
Despite the minister's hesitations, the resolution to lowering the drinking age was passed. These resolutions are just suggestions made by members on the direction they would like to see the party go. It doesn't necessarily mean the government will pursue this policy change. However, Premier Brad Wall says he sees both sides of the argument.
“Someone can serve their country, can choose their government, and yet that person can't have a beer legally. And yet do we want to expand young people's access to alcohol? We're going to do a little bit more consultation on it."