TIGNISH -- For the third Christmas season in a row, Tignish-Palmer Road MLA Hal Perry is offering his services to people in and around his electoral district who might need a designated driver.
Perry knows that some people are referring to the service he provides as “Operation Red Nose,” but he insists there is no actual name to what he’s doing. “It’s just Hal Perry trying to raise awareness and asking people to plan ahead.”
He provides the service free-of-charge and seeks no compensation in return. Some, he said, have insisted on giving something, and he gave all of that to charities. Two years ago the donations went to the Tignish Credit Union Arena and last year they went to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. If he gets any donations this year, the money will support an area senior who requires a medical lift chair.
Perry is reluctant to even discuss donations, because he does not want anyone to feel compelled to give. First priority, he insists, is to get people to and from their destinations safely.
“If I can take one impaired driver off the road, then this whole program is worthwhile,” he said; “if I can make that road a little safer for everyone involved.”
Perry said he has also offered his services during special events throughout the year. “I just am a person who likes giving back to the community, but this also is my socializing. People might like to go out to a dance and socialize, but I enjoy the social aspect of this also,” he reflected. “It’s a happy event, and I really do appreciate any conversations I have with them, and the fact that they are utilizing my services.”
He is not expecting any change in attitude because he changed political parties since last year’s festivities. “The people in this district have been wonderful to me,” he said. “I don’t anticipate there being any changes. I can’t think of why there would be.”
He’s certainly fine with it if his profile as an MLA helps raise awareness about planning ahead and having a sober driver.
Perry notes there are many other designated drivers around the province who go unnoticed, such as parents, siblings and friends. “These people need to be applauded,” he said.
All designated drivers combined, he said, are helping to raise awareness that there are alternatives to drinking and driving.
As of Friday, Perry had not received any calls this festive season but he expects that to change soon, and he is ready to respond. Like the previous two years, he expects to be busiest New Year’s Eve night and New Year’s Day. Last year he accommodated about 70 revelers during New Year’s Eve and about 30 more during the levees.
“If people don’t see me in the levees, there’s a reason why: I’m the one that’s outside making sure people are arriving there and back home safely.
“That’s just who I am.”