New Brunswick — Spurred on by renewed interest in the concept of “pace drivers,” Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry has seen fit to pursue his own variation of the concept over the past few months.
“I call them ‘pace drinkers,’ and we already have several of them out in the field,” he said. “The concept is this: a volunteer participant whose sole responsibility it is to set the pace for intoxication during any social event that includes drinking.”
Landry explained that it was not intended to be a way of impressing puritan values on the public, but merely to serve as a gauge for others to determine what level of drunkenness is socially acceptable in any given situation.
If, indeed, a particular event calls for heavy drinking, a bachelorette party, for instance, the “pace drinker” will adjust their drinking habits accordingly. The agents can range anywhere from “having a buzz on,” to “totally sloshed,” based on their command over their body chemistry and their acute understanding of responsible social drinking.
“It isn’t a perfect system or anything,” Landry admitted. “We’ve had our fair share of early-adopter growing pains.” He related an incident that occurred just one month before, in which one of their agents overshot their wine intake during a book club meeting.
“The result, unfortunately, was a community centre meeting room filled with vomit, a stolen police car, and ‘missing’ statuses for three of the six women in attendance,” he said, shaking his head. “They could be joy-riding through Vegas by now, for all we know.”
Apart from these hiccups, the program seems to work quite well, and Landry said that it has garnered a great deal of support both inside and out of government. Later, over a beer at a downtown bar, he explained that he has, in fact, faced some opposition on the issue, even from those within his own party.
“Whell I jush think issa waste money,” interjected the premier, slurring, as he double-fisted shots of tequila. “I meeen, dese are adhultsss were tahlking abo’ here. Peoplllle know how tah regulate thir owwen drinks, Dennnnis.”
“For God’s sake, Brian,” said Landry, burying his face in his hands. “It’s 11 in the morning.”
“Oh fuhck, really? We ‘ave a lejusschlative meetingsh in 10 minnats!” he said, turning toward the exit and tripping over an extension cord. “Commmonn — Ah’ll drive.”
Landry opened his mouth — presumably to voice his concerns — but thought better of it. With sad reserve, he followed his boss out the front door.