It’s been nearly three months since MLA Darius Elias promised to seek help for his alcohol addiction.
Now, freshly sentenced for refusing a breathalyzer, it appears Elias is still unwilling to face the music.
“If I had known alcohol remained in my system from the night before, I wouldn’t have been driving,” Elias told a justice of the peace at his sentencing hearing last week.
The statement defies logic. If Elias thought at the time there was little or no alcohol in his system, he would have gladly provided a breath sample.
The only reasonable explanation is that Elias figured the amount of alcohol in his blood was high enough that the consequence of refusing the breath sample would be less severe than consequence of giving one.
If he knew he was drunk when the officer pulled him over, then he knew he was drunk when he got in the car.
His statements in court do not sound like someone who is ready to accept responsibility and begin to deal with his problems.
A wise man once said, “When you make a mistake, the first step is to take responsibility for your actions.”
Oh wait. That was Darius Elias, three months ago. He said those words reading off a statement at a tightly-controlled news conference when word first got out about the charges against him.
That was a good first step, and not an easy one to make, but since then Elias appears to have retreated into his shell, aided and abetted by his colleagues in the Yukon Party.
He promised back in May to seek professional help, but neither Elias nor his party has offered any details on what that might consist of.
Premier Pasloski has consistently declined to speak to the matter.
The Yukon Party code of ethics, provided to the News by party staff this week, unsurprisingly spells out that breaking the law is a violation of the code.
No information has been provided so far on what sanction Elias has suffered for breaching his party’s requirements of him.
The code also states that members should “pursue their activities with a commitment to basic values and principles of ethical behaviour central to which are integrity, honesty, respect, humility, responsibility, fairness and compassion.”
Putting Elias’s infractions aside for a moment, in our opinion the Premier’s behaviour falls short of this standard as well.
As far as we can tell, the Yukon Party is more concerned with sweeping this matter under the rug than actually ensuring that Elias gets the help he needs to get better.
You can’t run from your problems forever, Pasloski.
Taking “responsibility” means being forthcoming with information about how the Yukon Party is handling this situation.
Dealing with “honesty” means being open, transparent and accountable.
And in the spirit of “compassion,” the Yukon Party must require Elias to deal with his addiction if he is to remain in its ranks.
Elias has not, as far as we know, taken a formal leave of absence, and has continued to attend government functions.
He deserves better.
Elias deserves a party that would require him to take a break from work until he has seriously confronted his addiction.
He deserves a community that says “We will support you as you confront your alcoholism, but not as you avoid it.”
For the record, we’re on team Elias.
Overcoming an alcohol addiction is one of the most difficult things a person can do.
We hope that Elias gets the help he needs, makes a full recovery and returns to the legislature a stronger advocate and role model for the community of Old Crow than ever.
When that day comes, we will raise a Shirley Temple in celebration and admiration.