Alberta premier meets mom of toddler killed in patio crash
Mother pushing for harsher impaired-driving penalties
EDMONTON — The mom of an Edmonton toddler killed when an SUV crashed into a restaurant patio met privately "mother to mother" with Premier Alison Redford on Saturday.
Sage Morin showed the premier pictures of two-year-old Geo Mounsef and related stories about how she would sing to him in the womb, said a spokesperson for Redford.
The two promised to keep in touch about plans for a public celebration of Geo's life set for July 16th on what would have been Geo's third birthday.
"I was able to introduce her to Geo," Morin told reporters after the meeting at a south Edmonton hotel suite during a policy meeting of Redford's Progressive Conservative party.
"I was meeting her more on a mother-to-mother basis."
Geo was killed a week ago during dinner with his family on a restaurant patio in the city.
Police allege the driver shifted the SUV into drive instead of reverse and the vehicle lurched ahead.
Geo's parents were also injured, but his five-month-old brother was unharmed.
Morin said her son died an hour later in hospital.
Case has 'touched a lot of people'
Morin and supporters in a cavalcade of 30-plus trucks and cars — some decorated in red balloons, others with signs proclaiming Justice for Geo — converged Saturday afternoon at the hotel.
They paraded past the front entrance, honking horns.
"When we learned she was coming, and it wasn't something we had a lot of notice on, the premier said she absolutely wanted to meet," Neala Barton, who speaks for Redford, told reporters later.
"It's a case that has touched a lot of people.
"I think (Redford's) heart went out to the family, absolutely."
Barton said Redford agreed to meet again to discuss Morin's plans to campaign for harsher sentences for drunk drivers.
"It's not a case of getting involved in the case at all. It's a case of listening as a mother. The premier has a daughter," said Barton.
Outrage after driver granted bail
Morin said she wants to see a minimum sentence for those convicted of impaired driving causing death, and hopes to enlist Redford's support.
She noted Redford's government has already passed a law that enables police to seize vehicles if the driver has .05 per cent alcohol or more in the bloodstream.
"The premier being the person who dropped these (blood alcohol limits in) laws before is the person who is going to be able to stand with me and take this fight to the front lines, where it belongs," said Morin.
Geo is to be buried Wednesday.
The case led to raw emotions in the courtroom Friday when the accused, 62-year-old Richard Suter, was granted bail.
Morin stormed out of the courtroom when the judge ruled.
The boy's father, George Mounsef, shouted and swore at Suter, who appeared on a video screen.
Suter was released on $1,000 bail on the condition he stay away from alcohol. His driver's licence has also been suspended.
Details of what was presented at the bail hearing and the judge's reasons are covered under a publication ban.
Suter's lawyer, Dino Bottos, has said his client is a retired businessman and grandfather with no criminal record.
Bottos described him as a "decent man who is grief-stricken himself by what has occurred."