drunk driving, Parliament, and LexisNexis: a morning mostly wasted

I was reading Geoff Costelloe’s blog, Geoff’s Place, mostly for Senate synopses (which you should all read), but I came across a post from earlier this summer that piqued my interest.  I was going to comment on it, but then (because I have been writing papers all night) I decided to have a little fun with LexisNexis, Al Franken style. As an aside, I know I sound like the biggest nerd in the world for combining ‘fun’ and ‘LexisNexis’ into the same activity. This pretty much sums that up:

Giles: “I’ll have you know that I have very, um, many relaxing hobbies.”
Buffy: “Such as?”
Giles: “Well, um…I enjoy cross-referencing.”

The charges leveled are as follows:

Can you imagine working for a company that has a little more than 300 Employees and has the following statistics?

  • 30 have been accused of spousal abuse.
  • 9 have been arrested for fraud.
  • 14 have been accused of writing bad cheques.
  • 95 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses.
  • 4 have done time for assault.
  • 55 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit.
  • 12 have been arrested on drug related charges.
  • 4 have been arrested for shoplifting.
  • 16 are currently defendants in lawsuits.
  • 62 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year!

Can you guess which organization this is?


It is the 301 MP’s in the Canadian Parliament.

The same group that cranks out hundreds of new laws designed to keep the rest of us in line!

Which one did you vote for?


I would bet money that this is almost certainly false. I ran a LexisNexis search (my God, I love LexisNexis) for terms associated with this, and the only thing that came up was a reference in an Ohio newspaper that said it was taken from a newsletter on Pelee Island, ON, which itself said that it had been reprinted from the Ottawa Citizen. There is no record of it actually in the Ottawa Citizen from any period during the time when we had 301 MPs (1997-2004).

A couple of the points say ‘accused’, which is an easy way of getting out of anything. Dalton McGuinty was ‘accused’ of being “an evil reptilian kitten eater from another planet” by Ernie Eves’ campaign. Barack Obama was ‘accused’ of being a Secret Muslim Communist Fascist Black Nationalist Kenyan, and he is merely some of these things.

The phrase ‘indirectly bankrupted’ is unverifiable as well, and if they include their actions as MPs in that mix, it is almost certainly a low-ball estimate.

On a more esoteric level, being a reader of Canadian news obsessively, it seems like the media would have a fit if 62 MPs were arrested for drunk driving in the last year. They had a fit when one former MP (Rahim Jaffer) was arrested for drunk driving, and it made the news when Peter Mackay got his driver’s license suspended for speeding. In the last BC election, the speeding tickets of the Solicitor General got him kicked out of Cabinet, and the DUIs of sacrificial lamb candidates came to light. And who can forget this.

A search for “MP AND drunk driving AND arrested” for the entire period yielded only 52 results on Nexis, many of which were year in review articles that just happened to contain all the words. The actual crimes I found were:

  1. Svend Robinson and the Ring
  2. Quebec’s highest Judge stepping down over DUI charges
  3. Gordon Campbell’s DUI
  4. Rejean Lefebvre, Bloc MP, DUI

There was also an article titled “Politics and drinking; B.C. premier latest in long list of elected alcohol abusers” in the Hamilton Spectator on Jan 14, 2003, which covered some past cases, but they were nowhere near the levels suggested.

The numbers seem off to me. If only 16 MPs were being sued at any given time, I’d be VERY surprised. Lawsuits just happen – traffic accidents, people slipping in walkways, being involved peripherally in a business that has raised the ire of someone, or just being the legal lightening rod that is inherent in being a public figure.

Also, with a (then) $66,900 a year income, and further expense budgets of $34,100, I’d find it pretty hard to believe that one in six MPs would have been denied a credit card.

Finally, the similarities to an exemplar hoax on the BBC E-Hoaxes article, in which the exact same charges are leveled against members of the US Congress, makes me certain that this is fake.


44 Responses to “drunk driving, Parliament, and LexisNexis: a morning mostly wasted”

  1. February 8, 2010 at 3:32 am

    This story is now doing the rounds with the punch line “It’s the 635 members of the House of Commons, the same group that cranks out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of us in line.”

    Very amusing – in the UK we are inclined to believe it as 3 of them were very publicly charged with fraud yesterday…. doing a spot of research to validate the claim (I don’t have access to LexisNexis) & I find this blog.

    Another urban myth, one I enjoyed for 5 minutes – thanks for helping to debunk


  2. 2 Sharon Balloch
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