So let it be written…
No parent ever wants a government bill or law named after their child, as this usually means their baby has died under tragically avoidable circumstances.
Take Grant’s Law, here in B.C.
This one is named after Grant De Patie, a 24-year-old gas station attendant who was killed at about midnight during a so-called “gas-and-dash” in 2005, in Maple Ridge. The young man was trying to prevent an idiot from stealing $12 in gas, and was dragged to death beneath a stolen car for an unbelievable seven kilometres for his effort.
His mom and dad, Corrine and Doug De Patie, fought a long, hard and emotionally eviscerating fight in their dead son’s name for a law that would require drivers to pay up before filling up.
In Ontario, they have Rowan’s Law.
This one is named after Rowan Stringer, a 17-year-old girl who died on Mother’s Day in 2013 after she was injured while playing high school rugby. Her parents Gordon and Kathleen Stringer, as did the De Patie’s, fought an uphill battle for a law that would, in Ontario at least, help prevent similar sports concussion-related deaths from happening.
Here, again in B.C., in Surrey, Markita and Victor Kaulius have been lobbying, so far in vain, for Kassandra’s Law.
This one would be named after their 22-year-old daughter Kassandra Kaulius, another young Canadian killed by an idiot (notice a theme here?). A drunk driver blew through a red light and slammed into the softball coach’s driver-side door at 103 km/h on May 3, 2011, demolishing Kassandra’s life and her parents’ hearts.
What’s a broken-hearted parent to do? Clearly, most chose to do everything within their limited power to ensure that no one else will have to endure the profound, enduring suffering that is now their lot in life.
Kaulius says it best: “I’ve already lost my child. What I’m trying to do is save everybody else’s.”
And so they lobby politicians.
Presently, we find ourselves in a provincial election campaign here in B.C. The last federal election was on October 19, 2015. That year, before Justin Trudeau became Canada’s 23rd prime minister, Markita Kaulius wrote to him concerning a proposed bill, C-652: Kassandra’s Law.
Trudeau probably explains it best. He wrote back to Kaulius on April 15, 2015, to let this grieving mother know that “the need to prevent an impaired driver from taking an innocent life is why I support the passing of Bill C-652.
“As you know,” Trudeau continued, “Kassandra’s Law would rename the offence of impaired driving causing death as ‘vehicular homicide as a result of impairment’ and call it exactly what it is — the morally culpable killing of another human being. As a result of this change, a conviction would carry additional weight, and hopefully provide a greater deterrent to would-be impaired drivers.”
Anyway, that’s what the Member of Parliament for Papineau had to say, on April 15, 2015.
On Trudeau’s watch, as prime minister, the Kassandra’s Law bill was “vetoed down” on Feb. 16, 2017, Kaulius noted, by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
Kaulius wrote another letter to Trudeau, admittedly a busy guy, on March 14, 2017, asking him to change the Criminal Code to “add the offence of impaired driving causing death and redefine it as ‘vehicular homicide as a result of impairment.”
That hasn’t happened under proposed impaired driving laws the Liberal government announced last week. Kassandra’s Law would have imposed a minimum mandatory five-year prison sentence on those who take a life while driving impaired. “That’s just a starting point,” Kaulius said. But it’s an uphill battle, because “the Liberal government does not believe in minimum mandatory sentences.”
“I’m waiting to hear back,” Kaulius told me this week.
Let’s hope she gets good news. God knows she could use some.
So let it be done.