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Canada Mandryk: Ugly politics seeps into Moe's 23-year-old fatal crash

23:00  07 october  2020
23:00  07 october  2020 Source:   leaderpost.com

Mandryk: Moe kicking off campaign from a solid cabinet base

  Mandryk: Moe kicking off campaign from a solid cabinet base Starting Tuesday, Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe will be presenting his case for a fourth government term centred around the notion that it’s his party with governance experience to successfully guide the province — with the lowest unemployment rate in the country and the sixth-lowest COVID-19 case numbers — through a pandemic. By contrast, New Democrat Leader Ryan Meili will heartily attempt to make a compelling case to voters — many of whom long ago abandoned the NDP — that the decisions emerging out of the Sask. Party government cabinet the past four years are precisely why this government does not deserve another four.

Why Scott Moe took until Tuesday to reach out to the sons of Jo-Anne Balog — the woman who died in a traffic fatality he caused in 1997  — is one of of those questions more easily answered in hindsight.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Scott Moe recently speaking with reporters on the campaign trail. © Provided by Leader Post Scott Moe recently speaking with reporters on the campaign trail.

He probably should have apologized back then. Sources close to him said Tuesday he was told at the time contact with the family in the circumstances would be unwelcome and inappropriate.

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He wasn’t the premier then. He was a 23-year-old coming off an underage DUI five years earlier — and a second DUI charge after a 1994 incident which was stayed.

The public needs to know about these issues and needs to know the whole story. And as it relates to Moe’s 1997 fatal car accident, what also needs to be heard are his words spoken Tuesday to the guilt and sorrow he says he’s lived with every day for half a lifetime now.

“Words are just not — I’m just not able to express in words how truly sorry I am,” he told reporters.

“I’ve also understood and respect that there’s another family that experienced far more loss than I did on that day and have always been aware of that and very respectful of that.”

Some might not accept this apology or that this even explains why he has not previously spoken to the family. Certainly, it won’t satisfy his political enemies — at least a few of whom are gleefully responsible for ensuring this matter has come forward during the 2020 Saskatchewan election campaign.

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But contrary to some social media posts, Moe has never shied away from the accident story that was in newspapers when it happened 1997.

Those who have asked Moe have heard his story that he was driving to work at his business in farm chemical application that May morning after having breakfast with his grandparents when he made his fatal error.

He says he missed the stop sign because of the sunrise. Moe was charged with the traffic violation of driving without due care and attention, but was not charged with any Criminal Code offences by RCMP officers who attended and reconstructed the accident.

Some may find this appalling and point to the Humboldt Broncos bus crash where trucker Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, 30, pleaded guilty to 29 counts of dangerous driving causing death or bodily injury. He was sentenced to eight years. In that case, Sidhu was determined to have been sufficiently distracted looking back at a loose tarp to warrant dangerous driving charges.

'Why did it happen?' Sons of woman killed in 1997 crash want answers from Scott Moe

  'Why did it happen?' Sons of woman killed in 1997 crash want answers from Scott Moe The sound of his mother’s dying breath still haunts him. It was a May morning in 1997. Steve Balog was 18 and sitting beside his mother as she drove down a rural Saskatchewan highway when their car was hit. Now 42, Balog and his younger brother say they have recently learned the identity of the man responsible for the collision. And they have questions. The other driver's name: Scott Moe, the leader of the Saskatchewan Party and incumbent, who'sIt was a May morning in 1997. Steve Balog was 18 and sitting beside his mother as she drove down a rural Saskatchewan highway when their car was hit.

However, accidents — even ones with fatalities and at-fault drivers — don’t always produce criminal charges. Consider the Sept. 10, 2004 crash when four youths were killed on the Trans-Canada Highway just south of Regina when an underaged driver crossed the median into a semi. Prosecutors did not charge the driver.

This will be of little to comfort Jo-Anne Balog’s sons Dan Bulmer and his half-brother Steven Balog who have spent more than two decades wondering why their mother had to die.

“My deepest question that I would want answered is: Why did it happen?” Balog told The Canadian Press’s Stephanie Taylor, of the 1997 crash in which he was an 18-year-old passenger in the car.

“Why, on a clear day in a flat prairie stretch of highway on a morning with no fog, no nothing, would someone cross a highway at full speed without stopping? It makes no sense to me.”

Thankfully, most is us will never have to endure such painful questions — ones made worse because Steven Balog says he never even knew who was at fault in the accident until the he was alerted to a post about it on social media that appeared the day the election was called.

The source of this — an anonymous Twitter account branding itself as supporting a third party — pushes defamatory unsubstantiated theories that this fatality was either a coverup or incompetently investigated by the RCMP. The account blocks specific journalists, raising further suspicions dirty, ugly politics are in play.

It’s certainly been ugly for the Balog family. It’s been ugly for Moe.

And it’s ugly for a week-old Saskatchewan election campaign that’s hit a low point.

Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

'Neither too shouty nor dull': Experts weigh in on Sask. leaders' debate .
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This is interesting!