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 fallen B.C. mountie calls for harsher DUI consequences

Const. Sarah Beckett was killed two years ago in Greater Victoria by convicted drunk driver Kenneth Fenton

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

Busy day for Campbell River fire crews

Three incidents in rapid succession keep crews on their toes

New electric buses are coming to school districts. (Submitted photo)
New electric school buses will drive North Island forward

Travel on electric school buses is smoother, quieter, and healthier than traditional diesel buses

Destroyed window at Ministry of Social Development offices in Campbell River. Photo supplied by Campbell River RCMP
Police investigating arson in downtown Campbell River

Fire set at BC Employment and Assistance Office

May 3-9 was Mental Health Week, and the Campbell River RCMP is encouraging people, especially men, to seek emotional help if it’s needed. Black Press file photo
Campbell River RCMP encouraging men to seek emotional help if needed

‘Taking care of our Mental Health is not simply about accessing counselling,’ says Const. Maury Tyre

Campbell River’s waste collection schedule will be changing after Victoria Day. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
Campbell River Garbage pickup schedule changing after May Long Weekend

Pickup day will change after every statutory holiday

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read