Red Ribbon A Sobering Reminder

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 1:13 p.m. November 6, 2018
Updated: 9:25 a.m. November 7, 2018

Jordan McCool-Morin has witnessed first-hand the impact of impaired driving after losing his mother and paternal grandmother to a senseless decision to drink and drive.

A man stands in front of a poster
Jordan McCool-Morin, who lost his mother and grandmother to a collision caused by an impaired driver, stands in front of images of victims

He and his family were on their way from Grandview to Saskatoon in July 2008 to attend a wedding when the high-speed fatal accident occurred about two hours into the trip.

“My sister was driving the lead vehicle with my parents and grandmother inside while I was following in another car,” recalled McCool-Morin, who was one of the speakers at the Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Toronto chapter annual Red Ribbon launch on November 6 at Toronto Police headquarters. “The next thing I see this vehicle coming in the opposite direction and heading straight for the first car.”

McCool-Morin’s mother died at the scene and his grandmother succumbed to a heart attack as a result of the violent impact that left his father – who was ejected from the vehicle – with serious injuries.

After moving to Toronto in 2015 to attend school, he joined MADD Toronto as a volunteer.

The recipient of the MADD Canada Louise Twerdy leadership bursary in 2016, McCool-Morin shares his story with youth enrolled in the TIPSY program at St. Michael’s Hospital.

With the holiday season approaching, he has a clear message to people that may consider drinking and driving.

“Just don’t do it,” he said. “And, if you suspect someone is driving impaired, don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1.”

Now in its 31st year, the Red Ribbon project is Canada’s longest-running public-awareness campaign during seasonal celebrations that make impaired driving a heightened concern.

The campaign runs from Nov. 1 to January 8, 2019.

“Any ribbon that I see today has so much more meaning,” McCool-Morin pointed out. “It is not only a symbol for the importance and commitment to sober driving, but one of inspiration and hope. It reminds me to do my best to help prevent others from experiencing the loss of a loved one to such a senseless act.”

Any ribbon that I see today has so much more meaning... It is not only a symbol for the importance and commitment to sober driving, but one of inspiration and hope. It reminds me to do my best to help prevent others from experiencing the loss of a loved one to such a senseless act.

Two men in uniform with another man beside an SUV
Chief Mark Saunders, Jordan McCool-Morin and OPP Superintendent Tony Cristilli tie MADD ribbons on an OPP vehicle

There have been 55 fatal collisions related to impaired-driving so far in the city this year and Toronto Police have laid over 800 charges.

“When it comes to impaired driving, we see the business end of it as we are the ones that have to deal with the carnage and notify the families,” said Chief Mark Saunders. “Out of all the crimes in the criminal code, this is the one that’s most avoidable. It’s unfortunate that we are here, but it is good that we are here because we know that through awarenness and education, opportunities are provided to help reduce fatal outcomes.”

Last year, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) laid nearly 8,700 impaired-driving charges, and in the first nine months of 2018, almost 6,000 impaired-driving charges have been laid.

“These numbers are a stark reminder that every impaired driver is a personal tragedy waiting to happen,” said Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services Mario Di Tommaso.

He said this year’s Red Ribbon campaign is more significant with the recent legalization of cannabis.

“While impaired driving continues to be the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada, the number of drivers who test positive for drugs now exceeds those who test positive for alcohol,” Di Tommaso said. “Police will be diligent again this year, including those officers who will be conducting R.I.D.E spot-checks.”

In the weeks leading up to the holiday season, MADD volunteers distribute millions of red ribbons in communities across Ontario.

“We want our red ribbons to be seen everywhere to remind people that it is never acceptable to drive impaired,” said MADD Toronto president Everilda Ratnakumar. “While great strides have been made over the years to reduce impaired driving, it continues to be a deadly problem on our roadways. Continued awareness efforts are crucial, especially now that cannabis is legal.”

Police officers are often the first ones on the scene in the aftermath of impaired-driving collisions.

Recognizing the significant impact and contributions they make in attempting to reduce impaired driving, MADD honoured four officers – two of them from Toronto Police – with Toronto Excellence in Police Service Awards.

Constable Kenneth Perino, of 14 Division, drafted and prepared an operational plan for consideration in an effort to increase impaired-driving investigations across police divisions in the city.

Traffic Services Constable Michael Clarke has the highest contribution to enforcement hours on his platoon and he volunteers at every opportunity to engage in R.I.D.E enforcement duties.

OPP Sgt. Michele Teeple and Const. Hassan Khan were the other award recipients. 

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation MPP Kinga Surma also spoke to underline the importance of staying sober on the road, noting that drivers under 21 and those who operate commercial vehicles are not allowed to have any presence of alcohol or drugs in their bloodstream while driving.

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