Alberta withdraws dated charges against former PC candidate

Teresa Wright, The Guardian
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Former Progressive Conservative candidate Shawn Driscoll says he feels vindicated now that charges against him from an alleged DUI in Alberta from 2008 have been withdrawn.

After being forced to resign as a Progressive Conservative candidate in the middle of the P.E.I. election last year amid revelations he was a wanted man in Alberta, Shawn Driscoll says his life was blown apart.

But now he is breathing a sigh of relief and hopes to start over now that all charges against him in an alleged impaired driving incident from 2008 have been withdrawn.

“It’s been tough,” he told The Guardian in an exclusive interview this week.

“This came at a very high personal and financial toll. But now, I can pick myself up and see what the opportunities are.”

Driscoll was the PC party candidate for District 15, West Royalty-Springvale – a nomination he won in a hotly contested race against former Charlottetown deputy police chief Richard Collins and former Charlottetown city councillor Cecil Villard.

But two days before the official deadline for nominations, the PC party received an anonymous letter alleging Driscoll had an unresolved DUI charge from 2008 and that there was an outstanding warrant out for his arrest.

The letter gave the party an ultimatum – go public with the information within five days or the anonymous author would do it.

The party released the information and then-PC party leader Rob Lantz asked for his resignation.


Driscoll says he was shocked to learn the charges still existed. He provided documents that appear to show he tried to deal with the matter immediately after it happened, but received no response from the Crown, according to Driscoll.

The alleged incident occurred on July 31, 2008.

Driscoll was 23 years old and living in Alberta. He says he went to a bar to pick up some friends who had been drinking there for some time. He admits to having one drink, but says a lengthy period of time passed before he finally convinced his friends to leave so he could drive them home.

When he was pulled over by police, his car smelled of alcohol. Driscoll alleges he was mishandled by the police officer at the scene and also believes he was unfairly charged with refusing the breathalyzer while he was trying to reach his lawyer.

He was also charged with impaired driving and later with refusing to appear, when he missed his court date on Sept. 3, 2008.

Driscoll maintains he made repeated attempts to contact the Crown and that his lawyer was of the understanding his Sept. 3 hearing was to be adjourned.

He says he did not hear anything from anyone about it again after that, so he believed the matter was closed.

He later went on to work in former Conservative cabinet minister Gail Shea’s office in Ottawa, and underwent a stringent CSIS background check that went back 10 years, required due to his close proximity to sensitive government documents and information.

The Alberta charges did not appear.

That’s why Driscoll says he did not know the charges were still standing, nor was he aware that a warrant for his arrest had been issued.

“There were no flags to say this was going to be a problem,” Driscoll says.

After the revelations came to light during the campaign, Driscoll turned himself into police and appeared in court in Alberta to face the charges.

His lawyer argued his Charter rights had been violated, due to the fact he says he was not given proper accomodation to seek legal advice and representation.

Finally, after many months of legal back and forth, a judge in Fort MacMurray ordered the charges against Driscoll be withdrawn at a trial on March 3.

Driscoll says he now feels vindicated.

“This proves I did take reasonable steps. I didn’t run from it, I stood up for my rights.”

But the whole ordeal came at a cost. He lost his job in Shea’s office and has had trouble finding employment, due to media coverage of his resignation and arrest warrant.

Nonetheless, he says he says he is happy to finally be able to clear his name and hopes one day he can try his hand at politics again.

“It’s very bittersweet. Yes, justice prevailed. But it was at a very great financial and personal cost.”

Organizations: The Guardian, CSIS

Geographic location: Alberta, Charlottetown, P.E.I. Ottawa Fort MacMurray

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Recent comments

  • Grant MacDonald
    Grant MacDonald
    March 11, 2016 - 07:29

    When Shawn Driscoll becomes the first Islander to become Prime Minister of Canada … you will say how awesome he is!

    • AMAZED
      March 11, 2016 - 21:56

      I will say ... book me a one way ticket to anywhere out of Canada , Harper Cons are back . Once tainted twice shy .

  • Enough already
    March 10, 2016 - 21:42

    I'm so sick of this guy, just go already, his 15 minutes of fame were up in May

  • Only human
    March 10, 2016 - 17:35

    List n he is no different then anyone else,he drank and drove and got caught for it how many of our pollaticians are doing the same and never got caught there is nothing here but a bunch of back lash I bet if you dug enough up on any of the elected politicians you will find worse then that

  • Wes the Cat
    March 10, 2016 - 17:18

    Now doesn't that smack of a huge ego and tremendous sense of entitlement? Cops pull you over and demand a breath sample, gotta call my lawyer before blowing into it... Hmmmmmmm !!!!!!!!

  • The Law
    March 10, 2016 - 16:38

    Tell it to the judge, son!

  • justin
    March 10, 2016 - 15:34

    Another example of someone who thinks they are above the law and when caught they scream "oh poor me". One word describes this guy ENTITLMENT!!

  • no thanks
    March 10, 2016 - 15:12

    sounds like a politician, looks like a politician --tells questionable stories like a politician --could probably replace ghiz ,crane,or many other such things

  • david
    March 10, 2016 - 14:30

    So if he was innocent and ONLY had one drink why would he need to contact his lawyer before he took the breathalyzer. The police mishandled it did they..this guy sounds like he has learned nothing from the whole sad incident. This guy still has not learned anything from this whole incident and continues to blame others for his own wrong doings. he may be older now but he not learned anything and it is obvious in his comments.

      March 10, 2016 - 15:37

      david....Did you not read the article? Alberta withdrew all charges. You are making an awful lot of assumptions here. Unless you are involved in the Alberta courts, how do you know the police mishandled the case, and that he has learned nothing from this? He absolutely did the right thing in asking for a lawyer. If that had of been you, you'd still be in Sleepy Hollow.

    • Ordinary joe
      March 10, 2016 - 18:24

      So he had a dui whoopi that dated back to his youth probably 98% of people who ever drank had drove at one point in there life but maybe never got caught they are just as guilty I bet most of our politicians are doing it them selves so enough with the criticism .

    • david
      March 11, 2016 - 04:16

      So when the guilty party says the police mishandled the case we should believe him. He was drinking and driving he was stopped by the police who demanded a breath sample. He claims only had one drink but yet refused the breathalyzer. Really...anyone who is so innocent would have taken the breathalyzer and passed and moved on. his actions shows he was obviously guilty.

      March 11, 2016 - 11:11

      Ordinary joe....If you could read, (another failure of the education system) you would see that he doesn't have a dui or any police record.I know a lot of Islanders can read a little bit but they can't comprehend what they read.

  • Joe Doe
    March 10, 2016 - 14:20

    i think we all know who ratted him out.

  • Jimmy Buffet
    March 10, 2016 - 13:32

    Wait until my lawyer gets here (and my bad breath dissipates) to get my sample in the breathalyser . Sounds like the police took this as a refusal to provide a sample , do you think ??? What would judge Orr say I wonder ? We will soon know when every perp here on the Island starts using this rouse . LOL !!! Here was I thinking refusing the breathalyser was the same as failing it .

  • Grant MacDonald
    Grant MacDonald
    March 10, 2016 - 12:42

    Glad you are able to STAND TALL ... once again!

  • Matilda
    March 10, 2016 - 12:26

    The ironic part of this story is whoever accessed the police file in Alberta would have had to do so illegally as there would have been no public record since no court proceedings had taken place. So did the anonymous letter writer commit a crime or have somebody commit one for them? Did the Liberal party know this was taking place. If so, they would be party to the crime. Something is wrong here on a whole other level.

      March 10, 2016 - 15:45

      Ask the deputy police chief if he ran him through the criminal records file. That would be my first thought.

  • Curious George
    March 10, 2016 - 11:51

    Has Mr. Collins ever commented on Shawn's past coming to light and how someone could of accessed that info?!

  • dui
    March 10, 2016 - 11:22

    I've had a dui in 1986 was never pardoned wrong birthday was entered on the charge ..a typographical error .. It shows up on the pros system ..not criminal record check ..does not say what the charge is ..required a finger print record ..

  • Oh well ...
    March 10, 2016 - 10:35

    ... he would have lost in district 15 and also his job with Shea anyway. Next story ...

  • Me
    March 10, 2016 - 10:26

    Must be nice. Us and them, eh.

  • Grant MacDonald
    Grant MacDonald
    March 10, 2016 - 10:26

    Driscoll can bring ETHICS to PEI politics!

    • brody
      March 10, 2016 - 14:33

      What ethics would those be? Do cooperate with the police and wait 8 years for the charges to be dropped. His comments show he has learned nothing and has the same attitude he had that night. He was drinking claims he only drank one drink but yet refused the breathalyzer if he was so innocent why refuse the breathalyzer. Sounds more like someone with a sense of entitlement not the kind of people Island politics need more of.

  • Curious George
    March 10, 2016 - 09:01

    I'm happy to hear that charges have been dropped against Shawn. However, I would still like to know how this information regarding his past came to light. Could someone who was, or still is, a police officer have any type of access he or she wants to conduct record checks on an individual. Could they also use this as personal gain or revenge (an example being losing a nomination riding to run in an election).

  • T
    March 10, 2016 - 08:08

    A CSIS level Secret or Top Secret clearance checks primarily for loyalty to the country but does not do criminal record checks. A Reliability (basic or enhanced) will by contrast do a basic criminal records check and a financial check and often a search in the RCMP LERC (Law Enforcement Record Check) database. So it could have quite possible not been noted when he has position in Shea's office. Hopefully this guy can move on with his life. Haters just keep hating....

  • boohoo.
    March 10, 2016 - 08:06

    I'd trust him about as far as I could throw him... and my arms are both broke.

  • Taxpayer
    March 10, 2016 - 07:15

    I agree, it would be difficult to secure a cushy Conservative patronage job considering what the electorate of Canada voted for lol