The Commission was assembled days after the last home game of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ 2010 season in response to a roadside stop outside CanadInns Stadium in which the accuracy of the breathalyzer equipment used by Winnipeg police was called into question.
After the game, as part of a routine check, Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) pulled over a fan leaving the parking lot in his vehicle and asked him to submit to a breathalyzer test. The result showed that the fan’s blood alcohol level was under the legal limit.
“We couldn’t believe it,” said a spokesman for the WPS. “We had him try two other machines and he still blew under the limit. We had never seen anyone leaving a Bomber game who wasn’t drunk before.”
Under questioning by the panel appointed by the Commission, the fan, Robert McKendry, a longtime Bomber season ticket holder awaiting a liver transplant, explained that he had just ordered a couple of more beers during the second quarter when his pager went off. Though he did not have to leave the stadium, he spent approximately three quarters of an hour on the phone with his employer.
When asked for the name of the government department he worked for, McKendry stated that he did not work for the government and worked in the private sector. The Commission subpoenaed bank records and income tax forms and spoke to a number of people with the Civil Service Commission as part of the subsequent investigation to verify his unusual story and confirmed that he, in fact, had not worked for the government.
Regarding his page, McKendry told the panel, “Those (expletive) buggers kept me on the phone ’till halftime. By that time, the beer lines were twenty-deep. But first, I had to take a whizz, you know.”
After waiting in line at the washroom for approximately fifteen minutes, McKendry explained that he proceeded immediately to the beer line. By that time, the third quarter had started and the line was short, but they had run out of beer and had to bring more from the other end of the stadium. When he was finally served, he attempted to get more than the two beers allowed, but despite his explanation ofbeing tied up for such a long time, he could only order two beers at that time.
“I’m always three sheets to the wind by the third quarter, but I was just getting started. And they wouldn’t give me more to make up for the ones I didn’t get while I was on the (expletive) phone. A man can’t get pissed very fast on two (expletive) beers at a time.”
The Commission ultimately found that the amount of time McKendry spent with his employer on the phone and the extra time spent in the washroom and beer lines could have been a contributing factor in his lower than expected blood alcohol level.
In winding up their questioning, one member of the panel asked, “Who won?”
“Damned if I know. I was way too sober,” replied McKendry.
The Commission’s focus then shifted to the breathalyzer equipment and two different sets of experts were brought in from the U.S. to verify the accuracy of the units used by WPS on that day. Both experts found the equipment to be in working order.
“As a result, we have no choice but to conclude that Mr. McKendry was, in fact, not legally impaired at the time of the roadside breathalyzer check,” said a spokesman for the Commission.
“This just proves that we’re on the right track as far as providing a family-friendly atmosphere for our games,” said a spokesman for the Bombers during a press conference announcing another tax increase to help pay for some new players. “We expect these numbers to double, or even triple, once we move into our new stadium.”