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Standing alone

QUEBEC CITY, Que. - The highway inspection branch of the Societe de l'Assurance Automobile du Quebec (SAAQ) is now an autonomous body and should be able to operate more effectively, according to Trans...


QUEBEC CITY, Que. – The highway inspection branch of the Societe de l’Assurance Automobile du Quebec (SAAQ) is now an autonomous body and should be able to operate more effectively, according to Transport Quebec.

Louis Cote, formerly of the Surete du Quebec, the provincial police force, will occupy the newly created position of vice-president for highway inspection.

Cote’s position will be devoted solely to the highway inspection branch. Before now, SAAQ had a VP for regional affairs, for whom the highway inspection branch was only one of many responsibilities.

The move promises to give the branch more independence and allow it to offer a higher quality of service, according to SAAQ. The branch has already signed on 34 new employees, and 45 more will be hired in the 2000-2001 time frame.

The new branch will also operate more transparently. Consulting with a committee made of government and industry representatives, it will set objectives to be unveiled as an annual action plan, with an annual report to be published at the end of each year.

One highway inspector, who asked not to be named, welcomed the move. He said that the SAAQ didn’t really let them operate effectively. For example, they spent too much time in the scales and not enough time on the highways, he said. Also, the inspectors had no power to take action in criminal matters. If, for example, they stopped a drunk truck driver, they had no power to detain him.

Under the new autonomous branch, the inspectors hope to obtain special constable status, which will permit them to intervene in criminal matters.

“The request is in for special constable status,” says SAAQ. “We are awaiting a reply.” n


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