POLITICS

Philanthropist to raise awareness of booze and drugs as hockey riot legacy

06/13/2012 04:22 EDT | Updated 08/13/2012 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - A Victoria philanthropist is hoping to encourage people to put the plug in the jug starting on the one-year anniversary of booze-fuelled rampaging in Vancouver's downtown core after last year's Stanley Cup final.

Miles Craig, a former Manitoba broadcasting executive, said he thought the anniversary would be an appropriate date to launch the Canadian Temperance Foundation.

The use of the word temperance in the foundation's title brings to mind stern women in bonnets from the 1800s, but Craig said it's the appropriate way to explain the work he wants done.

"When I saw the riot unfold on TV, I came to the realization that it was probably caused by alcohol and drug misuse," said Craig.

Last year, an independent review of the Stanley Cup Riot placed the blame partly on drug and alcohol use.

Drunken hockey fans smashed windows, looted stores and torched cars after the Vancouver Canucks lost the last game of the final to the Boston Bruins.

In an attempt to help prevent similar scenarios and other problems, the foundation will target Canadians of all ages and encourage them to moderate or abstain from drugs and alcohol.

"There's a misconception that to relax and have fun that we have to use alcohol and drugs," Craig said.

"Our view is that it's unhealthy and irresponsible to become intoxicated on alcohol or high on drugs."

The Vancouver Police Department has estimated the cost of the riot to be around $3.4 million, plus an additional $2 million to investigate suspected rioters.

Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu said Tuesday Metro Vancouver municipalities need to work harder to prevent liquor from being brought downtown.

But Craig has bigger plans. He said he wants to encourage people to make an effort to prevent drinking across the nation, not just Vancouver's centre.

"Around 80 per cent of the population uses alcohol or drugs and it has very destructive consequences, it has negative physical, mental health effects and is a major cause of crime and is just very, very dysfunctional to society," he said.

"We feel that temperance is a very important part of our social and economic development as a country."

On Friday the foundation will officially launch its website and operations.

It hopes to raise money for a print and broadcast campaign meant to spread the ideals of temperance.