Stanley Cup Riot Anniversary Sparks Temperance Campaign

June 21, 2012 Updated: March 31, 2014

A Victoria man who believes much of the carnage inflicted by the Stanley Cup rioters in Vancouver a year ago was fuelled by alcohol and drugs is launching a nationwide campaign for temperance.

Former broadcasting executive Miles Craig, founder of Canada’s Temperance Foundation, kicked off the campaign on June 15, the first anniversary of the riots. He says the time is right for a temperance movement in Canada.

“Like all Canadians, I was outraged by the alcohol-fuelled violence that occurred in Vancouver, tarnishing the image of the city and the country,” he says. 

This is a new brand of temperance: we are non-judgemental, secular, and non-religious.

— Miles Craig, Canada Temperance Foundation

“The riot demonstrated the need and importance of promoting temperance in alcohol and drugs to the young and old of society.”

An inquiry into the riots concluded that alcohol consumption was one of the most significant factors that led to violent outbreaks in downtown Vancouver after the 2011 Stanley Cup, which resulted in vandalism, theft, and property damage estimated at $4.2 million.

Craig says his foundation will start its work in Victoria and then expand to other Canadian communities, providing education-based programs on how alcohol and drugs negatively affect society, and to provide potential abusers with information about alternatives.

“This is a new brand of temperance: we are non-judgemental, secular, and non-religious. So we’re hoping to get the message out through educational presentations and media campaigns,” he says.

Temperance, Craig notes, does not always mean complete abstinence from alcohol, but rather exercising restraint in order to avoid harm to oneself or others.

But he says if temperance is to be effective in the long-term, it must also be motivated by an understanding of the personal and social costs of drug and alcohol abuse.

“We think temperance is a mature and responsible decision, so we’re asking people to recognize that the misuse of alcohol and drugs is destructive to individuals, families, and society, negatively impacting physical and mental health,” he says.

“The misuse of alcohol and drugs is a human rights issue in that it can inflict physical and emotional pain, suffering, hardship, and even death on the abuser and on innocent members of society.”

‘Huge Problem’

Craig says he decided to start the Temperance Foundation because he believes misuse of alcohol and drugs is one of the biggest social problems today.

According to Statistics Canada, 4 to 5 million Canadians engage in “high risk drinking,” leading to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and other health issues, motor vehicle accidents, family problems, crime, and violence.

This is a huge problem that we face as a society. 

— Miles Craig, Canada Temperance Foundation

Alcohol and illegal drug addiction costs the Canadian economy over $22 billion per year, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, which measured the burden on services such as health care and law enforcement as well as the loss of productivity in the workplace or at home resulting from premature death and disability.

“This is a huge problem that we face as a society,” says Craig. “I see the extent of the problem almost as great as or greater than poverty.”

Education is the key strategy to promoting temperance, he notes, because alcohol abuse has become an accepted part of the culture, not only in Canada but around the world.

“We’re wanting people to acknowledge that there’s a misconception that we must use alcohol and drugs to relax and to have fun, and that it is irresponsible and unhealthy to be intoxicated on alcohol or to become high on drugs.”

The Temperance Foundation is asking Canadians to make a personal commitment to temperance by taking a “pledge” on its website at CanadasTemperanceFoundation.org.

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