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Post drunk driver's photo in liquor stores, say readers

Categories: Canada, Community

ashley smits-584.jpg
Angela Smits, 19, and her boyfriend, Michael MacLean, 20, were killed by a drunk driver in May 2004. (Archive)

Michael Gerard Cooper's photo should be plastered in liquor stores across Canada, say many readers in response to a story about the convicted drunk driver's release from jail.

Cooper served seven years at Dorchester Penitentiary for the deaths of Angela Smits, 19, and her boyfriend Michael MacLean, 20.

Before his release Tuesday, Cooper told the Parole Board of Canada he would not stop drinking and driving, prompting Smits's father, Gerard, to ask that his name and photo be distributed to Nova Scotia liquor stores so no one will sell him alcohol.

Smits's request sparked much debate on and CBC's Facebook page, with people arguing both sides -- his photo should be posted, and it shouldn't in order to protect his privacy.

However, the majority of people argued for posting his photo or for changing legislation so that can be a legal option for similar offenders.

  • "Why was this guy released? If someone said they're going to kill someone, do you let him loose until he's guilty with following through on his promise?" wrote I Hate Plastic.

  • "Even though this man has served his time, the mere fact that he owned up to the fact that he wouldn't change his behaviour re: drinking and driving really forces society to go beyond normal safety practices," wrote alaska.

  • "I'd be against plastering his face all over the place, except he admits he's going to do it again," wrote Sara Minton on Facebook. "If he was truly remorseful, as shown by his actions (AA meetings, selling his car, etc) I'd feel bad for the guy. However, I'm wondering if just putting his face in stores is enough." readers had many suggestions for how to deal with offenders in future, from creating a database of drunk driving offenders liquor store employees could check at every purchase, to jailing drunk drivers convicted multiple times indefinitely.

As for those who argued against posting Cooper's photo in liquor stores, their pleas were just as passionate as those from the people for it.

  • "Can we please keep in mind that we're being 'guilted' into throwing away rights that form the foundation of our democracy for reasons that are trivial in comparison?" wrote David Hart Dyke on Facebook.

    "It's sad that those people died, and even more sad that they were killed by a drunk, but the measures being suggested here represent an unparalleled incursion on hundreds of individuals and businesses in a worthless attempt to keep liquor out of the hands of somebody who will be able to defeat them with ridiculous ease."

  • "I'm not condoning what he did, [but] we can't allow our emotions to dictate what we can do to an individual that was tried and convicted ... and served [their] time," wrote thedunph. "If we don't like that these people are set free, then we need to re-evaluate the punishment system."

Some others also pointed out flaws to posting his photo regardless of ethics.

  • "Lots of people look like other people. Mistaken identity could lead to some trouble. They'd have to post a new picture every time he got his hair cut," wrote 2centsmore. "It's a small enough place.He`s probably well-known."

What do you think? As always, we appreciate your comments and invite you to continue the conversation below.

Tags: Canada, Community Reaction

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