Well, it’s finally happened. After two and a half years of dogged determination, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has ushered its speed limiter policy through to fruition. It went through the legislative process unamended and is pretty much on the books exactly as originally drafted up by OTA.
Now, what? Everyone has their own opinions on what this law will mean to truckers in Ontario. Some say safer roads and cleaner air. Others say highway carnage and a mass exodus of drivers from the industry. I stand somewhere in the middle, and have already made my thoughts known. In a nutshell, I think the proposed benefits are greatly overstated and yet I don’t subscribe to the doomsday theories that are out there and that I hear about every day.
In the end, professional drivers are going to have to accept and adapt – that’s all there is to it. It’s not going to be the end of the world. Having said that, the way this law came to be, has left me with a sour taste. The one-day public hearing was a farce, with practically no advanced notice provide to stakeholders. It was clear from the get-go that this government was simply going through the motions, with no real intent of making any changes to the proposed legislation.
Conservative MPP Frank Klees, who I think would agree with me on that point, made the following comments in the Legislature during final debate: “I received an e-mail that, quite frankly, concerned me as a member of this Legislature and as a former minister…I’d like to you listen to this, Speaker, because you will be interested, as will any other member of this Legislature, to know the arrogance with which some stakeholders approach this place: ‘As for the amendments, we have none, and in fact I would go further and say that we would be very strongly opposed to any amendment. This is our bill. Every period, every comma, every semicolon was put there by us, and we would be very, very unhappy were it to be amended in any way’.”
I find it disturbing that any lobby group – any organization – was able to write its own legislation and is chummy enough with our government that they could seemingly will it through the legislative process untouched. I find that startling.
But to its credit, the OTA (I should point out Klees did not say which stakeholder sent him the aforementioned e-mail) was bent on making this happen, and they saw it through right til the end. They pushed for this with a united voice that showed no signs of cracking – at least publicly – at any time over the last two and a half years. They got dozens of strong-headed fleet managers to agree on an issue (that alone is amazing) and showed no chinks in their armour at any time in their pursuit of making this law. But in the process, what has come to the surface is the great divide that exists between the carrier community and its drivers. The ongoing debate on this blog and the flood of e-mails and phone calls we’ve received here at Truck News attest to that. Wounds have been created, which may take some time to heal.
Time will tell how this all shakes out.
And on that note, I’m off for a couple weeks. I’m getting married in the Dominican Republic and will be back in early July.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies