Brad Aschenbrenner has found an ally in his effort to toughen up impaired-driving laws in Canada.
He has been vocal about what he sees as lax punishment in the wake of the April 2016 death of his wife, West Shore RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett. She was killed when an intoxicated Kenneth Jacob Fenton slammed his vehicle into her police cruiser.
She was the mother of two young sons.
Aschenbrenner and St. Albert-Edmonton Conservative MP Michael Cooper, his party’s justice critic, made a joint presentation Monday on what they see as a “watering down” of current laws.
Fenton’s four-year sentence wasn’t harsh enough, Aschenbrenner said. “His blood alcohol level was .278, more than three times the legal limit. He had two prior 24-hour prohibitions for drinking and driving and yet was released the same day he killed my wife.”
Six weeks later, Fenton was involved in another crash that resulted in an impaired driving charge.
“The reason I am standing here today with Michael Cooper is to make a plea for changes with respect to the minimum sentencing practices for DUIs,” Aschenbrenner said. “The fear of being locked up for at least 10 years would be a deterrent.”
Cooper said he has issues with federal government’s legislation on crime, most recently Bill C-75. He said it diminishes punishment for more than 130 offences — including impaired driving causing bodily harm — by reclassifying them from serious indictable offences.
The Department of Justice website calls Bill C-75 an effort to reduce delays in the justice system while making it more modern and efficient.
“It is the leading criminal cause of death in Canada,” Cooper said of impaired driving. “Each and every day, between three and four Canadians on average are killed at the hands of an impaired driver, and dozens more are injured.”
He said the sentence given to Fenton “illustrates that impaired drivers continue to receive a slap on the wrist.”
Aschenbrenner said it will be hard to explain Fenton’s prison sentence to his boys when they are older. “Trying to do something to right this problem will make it easier and that is the only reason why I’m here.”
He said he has been advised by some to let things go. “People tell me to move on,” he said.
“Fighting this fight is not good for me and it’s not good for my kids. It is not good for my family, I get that.
“But I know that if Sarah was still here she would be the one raising the concerns.”
Aschenbrenner said the legal system didn’t do what it should have. “In the hour that my wife needed justice, Canada turned their back on her.”
He filed a civil suit against Fenton last October.