The Mayor's Actions regarding Counsellors and Alcohol

Chronicle Herald/July 2010

The article of July 15th in the Chronicle Herald, entitled Mayor Issues Last Call to City Counsellors, raises yet again what would hopefully be a sobering fact to us all; that this province is awash with the over-consumption and misuse of alcohol. It is almost commonplace to witness, through media images, our culture's ongoing dysfunctional dance with alcohol; - a dance resulting in patterns of consumption that continue to maim and kill off Nova Scotians, with a particular dedication to attacking our youth. This time the focus on risky drinking patterns, including drinking and driving, has been brought to the feet of those individuals provided the privilege and responsibility of leading the citizens of HRM. The mayor's response to this issue and his subsequent comment of having "raised these concerns with the individuals involved" raises our concerns that approaches focused strictly on individual consumption of alcohol do not address a societal problem. 

His further comment that "there is just no public tolerance for such events in this day and age" flies squarely against the sad reality that through the absence of healthy public policy regarding alcohol, we are showing great public tolerance for just such events. The alcohol industry employs various tactics to increase consumption of alcohol in Nova Scotia, including advertising and increased access, and they are succeeding. With alcohol outlets sprouting through this province in the past years like goutweed, we ignore the reality that as a population's consumption of alcohol increases, so do the rates of drinking and driving, violence and other injury issues. What enters as revenues to the government coffers is also filling Nova Scotian coffins. Provincial and municipal governments have a responsibility to establish and enforce policies that create a culture of safer alcohol consumption in Nova Scotia. Yet only six months previous to this outpouring of concern for risky drinking behaviours from council members it was council itself that defeated the proposed motion that would end alcohol sponsorship from city-hall-run events. The irony in that decision considering current media coverage is hard to miss. Only when this kind of media attention results in some real government leadership will our dysfunctional dance with alcohol end and the lives of our province's citizens be safeguarded.

Shirley Ann Rogers, Executive Director