Drinking, Violence, Murder


I’ve been wanting to do a study of murder in Ottawa for a while and somehow it never gets to the top of the pile in terms of projects.  Although each tragedy is its own terrible story, there are some themes that we need to examine more closely if we want to prevent successfully.

The tragic murder in Gatineau of a young student, the same age as my daughter, outside a bar I am fairly certain she has visited, brings home the theme of alcohol.  Too many of the homicides that we see in Ottawa and the area seem to be associated with alcohol.  Although we need to avoid blaming the victim, I think that if I ever get to my study, I fear discovering that many murder victims have had a few drinks — and so have the perpetrators.

When the drinking is in the public realm, we can try to licence and manage the establishments to promote good behaviour.  But when a tavern’s security (bouncer) asks people to leave because they are creating a disturbance, are they safe?  And what about private parties? This cannot be solved through alcohol regulations alone.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility.  And part of that is creating a culture of moderation and good behaviour when it comes to alcohol.  Our society has come a long way in the past 40 years on drinking and driving.  We need to start that same conversation about drinking and violence.

We all talk to our children about drinking and driving. My challenges to all of us is to have those conversations with our sons and daughters about drinking and assault, drinking and violence, and drinking and sexual assault.  It is hard, but it is absolutely necessary.

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