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Liberal MLA faces drunk driving charges

Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite is facing drunk driving charges after being stopped at a road check last night, she said in a statement.

“Returning from a series of events, I was stopped at a roadcheck by RCMP in North Vancouver and am now facing impaired driving charges,” said Thornthwaite, the MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour, in the statement the Liberal caucus released at 4 p.m. this afternoon.

"I accept full responsibility for my actions and will, with my legal counsel, co-operate fully with Crown counsel,” she said. “My actions were inexcusable. Drinking and driving is dangerous and completely unacceptable; I know that and make no excuses for what I did.”

The statement did not say how high her blood alcohol content was. She apologized to her family, friends, colleagues and constituents.

Charges have not yet been laid and the RCMP can not confirm that Thornthwaite was arrested, said sargeant Peter Thiessen, a spokesperson for the RCMP in the Lower Mainland.

He could, however, say that North Vancouver officers stopped a 51-year-old woman driver at around 1 a.m. in a road check on Main Street near the Second Narrows Bridge on Feb. 23.

Having reason to believe the driver was impaired by alcohol, they took breath samples, he said. They are recommending charges to the Crown prosecutor of impaired driving and driving with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit of .08.

The individual was released on a promise to appear in court in April.

"It's a very regrettable event that occurred," said Ron Cantelon, Parksville-Qualicum MLA and chair of the Liberal caucus. Thornthwaite will work hard to regain and keep the confidence of her constituents, he said, but added "There will be no consequences within the caucus."

Premier Gordon Campbell was arrested in 2003 while on vacation in Hawaii for driving while under the influence of alcohol. He apologized at the time, retained his position and has since been re-elected twice.

Asked if Campbell staying on has made it hard for the caucus to discipline MLAs for drunk driving, Cantelon said, "That was a long time ago and I think the issue here is how she reacts and accepts responsibility to her constituents."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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