Conservative MP Michael Cooper (left) and Brad Ashenbrenner, husband of late RCMP officer Sarah Beckett, are advocating to make changes to Bill C-75 in regards to impaired driving offences in the Canadian Criminal Code. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Conservative MP Michael Cooper (left) and Brad Ashenbrenner, husband of late RCMP officer Sarah Beckett, are advocating to make changes to Bill C-75 in regards to impaired driving offences in the Canadian Criminal Code. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Husband of late Westshore RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett calls for harsher DUI consequences

Brad Ashenbrenner spoke with MP Michael Cooper about changes to Bill C-75

Two and a half years after the death of his wife, Brad Ashenbrenner stood with Conservative MP Michael Cooper to advocate for stricter criminal consequence to impaired driving.

On April 5, 2016, Ashenbrenner’s wife, RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett, was killed by impaired driver Kenneth “Jake” Fenton.

On Monday morning Ashenbrenner and Cooper stood at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria advocating for amendments to Bill C-75, a 300-page act making changes to the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts.

“Impaired driving is serious, it’s the leading criminal cause of death in Canada,” Cooper said. “The fact remains that individuals who make that choice to get behind the wheel impaired, time and again, receive nothing more than a slap on the wrist. “

READ MORE: Man who killed Mountie likely to see more jail time in separate crash

That was certainly the case for Fenton, Cooper argued. Fenton was a repeat offender, already holding two prior 24-hour driving prohibitions from drinking and driving, and he got in an accident six weeks after killing Const. Beckett, causing a serious accident that injured himself and his passenger after driving drunk.

For his actions Fenton was given four years in prison.

“How much carnage on our roads do you have to cause before you’re finally held accountable?” Cooper asked, saying that Bill C-75 looks for a minimal level of accountability.

Bill C-75 reclassifies more than 130 criminal offences which are currently listed in the Criminal Code as serious, indictable offences.

Cooper said that the bill “waters down those offences down to hybrid offences, which means they can be prosecutable by way of summary conviction.”

This also holds the possibility of shifting maximum sentence time from 10 years to two years less a day.

The bill comes as a result of the Supreme Court R v Jordan decision to minimize wait times in court, but Cooper argues that shifting these indictable offences to provincial courts will only overwhelm an already over-burdened judicial system. He said that in addition to more work, the set time for a reasonable conviction in provincial court is only 18 months, compared to a supreme court time limit of 30 months. This means the provincial courts would have less time to process more cases.

READ MORE: Man who killed Mountie pleads guilty in second crash

While the national organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other politicians have advocated for education as the biggest tool against drunk driving, Ashenbrenner disagreed, saying Fenton didn’t learn from his previous offences.

“It’s hard knowing that Fenton’s actions cost him four years of his life, while they have amounted to a life sentences for me and my boys, and worse, how do I try to explain that to them when they get older?” Ashenbrenner asked. “This should not become a political battle to point out what’s right from wrong.”

The bill has gone through its second reading and is currently being examined by Canada’s Justice Committee. It will go back to the House of Commons shortly for amendments and its third reading.

For Ashenbrenner, no time is soon enough, especially considering Fenton will soon be eligible for day-time parole.

“I saw Jake Fenton in a parking lot one time,” Ashenbrenner said, “He was laughing, smiling, going on with life like nothing happened. It took everything in me to get back in my truck and leave. This country really caters to criminals, they’ve got to quite coddling them. The victims are truly the victims.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

impaired drivingSarah Beckett

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Search continues for Saanich man Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

Support from community, police keeps his mother hopeful

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

Daniel Foster, last seen in downtown Parksville on Saturday, May 1. (submitted photo)
RCMP seek help locating missing Victoria man, last spotted in Parksville

Daniel Foster, 43, seen via surveillance camera using an ATM

Police stopped, then let go this man and his large collection of cans during a stop Monday morning on Resthaven Drive. Police had received a report of a possible theft, but let him go after he had returned the property, which he believed was his to take after being left out in public. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Report of theft, balancing act on Sidney street draws curious onlookers

Incident happened just before 8:30 a.m. opposite of Vancouver Island Regional Library branch

Victoria Police Department looks to identify a person of interest after a Friday night stabbing. (VicPD handout)
Police seek person of interest after Victoria stabbing

Friday night assault leaves one with potentially life-altering injuries

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Most Read