Nova Scotia

N.S. Premier Iain Rankin addresses impaired driving charges from 2003, 2005

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin said Monday he was charged with impaired driving in 2003 and again in 2005, and disclosed the information to the Liberal Party when he ran for provincial politics in 2013.

'I'm very very sorry for my actions half a lifetime ago. I was selfish, it has not happened since'

Premier Iain Rankin publicly addressed an impaired driving charge from 2003 on Monday. (Robert Short/CBC)

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin on Monday publicly acknowledged he was twice charged with impaired driving nearly two decades ago.

"This is something that is well known amongst my family, my circle of friends, and my community. And I want all Nova Scotians to hear it from me," he said at a COVID-19 briefing.

Rankin was charged in 2003, when he was 20, with impaired driving and driving with a blood-alcohol content over the legal limit, according to court documents. He was fined and his licence was suspended for a year.

Two years later, when he was 22, he was charged again with impaired driving offences, although the case was ultimately dismissed, according to court records.

"I make no excuses for my behaviour. I was wrong, and I made a bad decision. I'm very very sorry for my actions half a lifetime ago. I was selfish, it has not happened since," said Rankin, 38.

The details of the two cases were first reported Monday by the business and politics news site allnovascotia.com.

2005 conviction, appeal

Rankin said of the 2005 charges that he was "eventually found to be innocent." He did not elaborate.

Court records indicate, however, that following a trial he was found guilty of impaired driving, and not guilty of driving with a blood-alcohol content above the legal limit.

He was sentenced to 14 days in jail to be served on weekends. He was also handed a two-year driving prohibition and a year's probation that included the condition that he attend substance abuse assessment and counselling as directed by a probation officer.

His conviction was overturned on appeal on January 9, 2007, and a retrial was ordered. The Crown offered no evidence, and the charge was dismissed, according to court records.

On Sept. 5, 2003, Rankin pleaded guilty in provincial court to having a blood-alcohol level exceeding 0.08, after being charged two weeks earlier.

His sentence included an order prohibiting him from driving for one year, a one-year licence suspension and a $1,200 fine.

Information disclosed to Liberals in 2013

Rankin said he disclosed the charges to then-premier Stephen McNeil, and the Nova Scotia Liberal Party, when he first ran in the riding of Timberlea-Prospect in 2013, and again when he decided last fall to run for the Liberal leadership.

It's the first time Rankin has disclosed the information publicly in front of news cameras and journalists.

He said his declaration came after discussions of the charges were raised internally earlier Monday, but he would not elaborate, calling it "immaterial."

A reporter for allnovascotia.com, Brian Flinn, confirmed to CBC News he was the journalist asking questions about the charges. He said he emailed the premier's office earlier Monday afternoon but did not hear anything until the COVID-19 briefing.

Rankin's father, Reg Rankin, who served on Halifax regional council, also has a history of being charged with impaired driving.

With files from Jean Laroche and Paul Withers

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