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Monday, March 19, 2012

Smokin' New Law

Working in politics can be frustrating when you're in opposition, but once in a blue moon you have a really good day. Today was one of those days - a day when you feel like a true public servant doing good work for the people of Alberta.

In a moment so rare that I've been unable to find out if it's ever happened in Alberta before today, an MLA other than a government member proposed a bill that actually passed third reading in Alberta Legislature. That piece of legislation, Bill 203, was brought to the floor of the assembly by none other than Official Opposition Leader Raj Sherman.

It's a great bill - well, a great law, now - that makes it illegal to smoke in a vehicle while there are minors present, punishable by a $1000 fine on the first offence. As an emergency room doctor, it's only natural that Dr. Sherman brought this bill forward to protect kids from the health hazards of second-hand smoke. Even the PC government found it impossible to vote against this bill!

It's important to note, however, that the government has hedged its bets a little, amending the bill so that it doesn't come into force on January 1, 2013, as Raj intended, but upon "proclamation," which means that the government retains final control over when the law takes effect - if ever, if one were feeling cynical. But I hope that the PCs will see that it doesn't benefit anyone to delay. The sooner smokers break the habit of smoking cars with kids, the better for all concerned.


daveberta said...

Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth's 'Mandatory Reporting of Child Pornography" act passed third reading in the Spring 2010 sitting of the Assembly. Ms. Forsyth's bill is still sitting in limbo yet to be proclaimed into law, which may be a likely fate for Dr. Sherman's bill.

Earl J. Woods said...

Thanks for the background, Dave! I hope Raj's bill enjoys a better fate than that of Ms. Forsyth's, but realpolitik would suggest it, too, will probably forever sit in the limbo you mention.