CTV Exclusive: MLA accepts responsibility for drunk driving
Published Tuesday, February 19, 2013 7:12PM AST
A New Brunswick MLA charged with impaired driving is breaking his silence.
Wes McLean, who represents the riding of Victoria-Tobique, was arrested and charged in Edmundston on Feb. 2.
Now he says he is prepared to plead guilty to the charge and accept whatever punishment is due.
“I am guilty. I’m pleading guilty and I’m not going to try to evade responsibility,” says the Tory MLA.
McLean admits he made a serious mistake and won’t run from it.
“The fact that I got behind the wheel of a car is a problem, so I might as well just confront that as a problem,” he says. “I made a very irresponsible choice and that choice was influenced by alcohol.”
Premier David Alward immediately removed McLean from his roles as deputy government house leader and legislative secretary and asked McLean to deal with the matter.
The 32-year-old has chosen to plead guilty and try to move forward.
“It’s an uncomfortable thing to do, but it’s got to be done and it doesn’t make something wrong right,” says McLean.
“But you can at least try to show better behaviour going ahead, and maybe, hopefully, encourage others not to be as silly as I was.”
McLean acknowledges his actions could have an impact on his political future, but says he will not resign as an MLA and plans to run in the next provincial election.
“I was elected for a four-year term and I want to continue that. I certainly recognize there are those who would call for that and I respect any of those who would call for that, but that’s not my intention.”
While some voters may wish to punish McLean at the ballot box, many residents in the heart of his riding seem willing to forgive.
“I do think that he does deserve a second chance,” says Four Falls resident Sarah Wright. “He’s done a lot for our community around here and I think he’s a great guy and he does deserve a second chance.”
“I feel that, like everyone else, he deserves a second chance,” says Perth-Andover resident Jolene Lunn. “And he’s human, just like the rest of us.”
“Everybody deserves a second chance,” says Aroostook resident Tina Rattray. “What you do with that second chance is, hopefully, going to turn your life around.”
Already dealing with a three-month licence suspension, McLean says he is humbled by the support he has received during what he calls a “challenging time.”
“All I can say is nobody condones that type of behaviour and I never want to give the impression that people are condoning that, but I’ve been encouraged by the number of people that have said to me ‘yes, you did something terrible, but there is forgiveness.’”
McLean is due to appear in court in May.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell