Canada might make drunk canoeing legal, and OH, CANADA

Canada has a reputation for being, like, the nicest place ever, but apparently its residents do let loose now and again. For example, this week, Canada announced that it might make drunk canoeing legal, but the policy is not without controversy.

As it stands now, canoeing while under the influence of alcohol is akin to drunk driving in Canada, which is exactly why some people want to lower the penalties for boozy boating. Apparently, over the summer, tons of people were charged with drunk boating in Ontario — canoes, kayaks, and rafts are all considered “vehicles” under Canadian law. When someone is charged with drunk canoeing or rafting, they face a fine, vehicle impoundment, or even a driver’s license suspension.

Some Canadians think that’s a little too much. According to the National Post, the new legislation would change the definition of vehicle so that it doesn’t include “vessels propelled exclusively by means of muscular power,” like a bike.  Police would still be able to cite people for public intoxication or disorderly behavior on the water, though.

But the Canadian Safe Boating Council is not happy about the proposed changes from parliament.

On Monday, Michael Volmer, the CSBC’s vice-chair, testified before the House of Commons and asked its members to rethink their position. The CSBC estimates that 40% of boating deaths involve alcohol, and it tries to convince people not to party on the water. This change will make that harder to do.

“Fundamentally we need the law to back up our position, and changing this definition is a very difficult concept, I’m afraid, from our point of view,” Volmer said. John Gullick, the chair of the CSBC, added:

“The only person who gets hurt is the person riding the bicycle. Well, in the case of muscular or human-powered vessels, there can be [far more] people in the vessel, and it also affects people around the vessel. First responders, people who are searching for people who get lost or get in trouble.

The members of parliament still have to vote on the legislation, so don’t start packing coolers for the canoe just yet, you crazy Canadians. And be safe out there!