TORONTO, Ont. - It could hardly be described as a convoy, but if the goal was to expose the mainstream media to truckers' concerns about Ontario's speed limiter law, then a March 2 gathering at Queen'...
TORONTO, Ont. – It could hardly be described as a convoy, but if the goal was to expose the mainstream media to truckers’ concerns about Ontario’s speed limiter law, then a March 2 gathering at Queen’s Park could be dubbed a success.
Fewer than 10 trucks travelled from starting points in Cambridge and Bowmanville, converging at Queen’s Park where they were greeted by a full throng of media. A couple dozen professional drivers, many arriving in their passenger vehicles, were also on-hand to lend support and sign a petition which will be hand-delivered to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario by Conservative MPP John O’Toole of Durham Region.
The grassroots protest was organized by professional driver Scott Mooney of Cambridge, Ont. and supported by more than 700 members of a Facebook group. As many as 200 trucks were expected to participate in the rolling protest, but the support failed to materialize on the day of the convoy. Despite the poor turnout, Mooney told Truck West he felt the event was worthwhile.
“I think it was a very successful day,” he said after speeches concluded. “The numbers weren’t there, but the message came through very strong.”
He said the ultimate goal is for “the legislature to suspend enforcement of this law, take a look at it and take a close look at just how dangerous this law is to Ontario motorists.”
Speakers at the event included: Mooney; NDP MPP Gilles Bisson; Owner-Operators’ Business Association (OBAC) executive director Joanne Ritchie and technical advisor Jim Park; Bud McAulay of Teamsters Canada; Conservative MPP O’Toole; and professional driver Jack Logan, who led the Bowmanville contingent.
Truck West caught up with Logan at the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville hours before the gathering at Queen’s Park, where he was still expecting some 25-50 trucks to show up.
The self-described ‘professional freight relocation specialist’ said “the ultimate goal is to bring awareness to the public that this law is detrimental to the travelling public.”
The company driver says his Peterbilt Model 389 will not be governed to 105 km/h and that his company has a lawyer on retainer and is awaiting its day in court, should he be charged under Bill 41.
“We’re ready to go to court,” he said.
At Queen’s Park, the theatrical Logan tossed several pairs of white gloves at the feet of the media and declared “The white gloves are off. I’ve had enough – I’m not going to listen to this political gargle anymore.”
NDP Transport Critic Bisson, said he was concerned that Ontario-based truckers would be at a competitive disadvantage when operating in the US and that the split speeds would lead to more accidents.
He said he favours increased enforcement of existing laws on the province’s roads.
“One, we don’t have the resources on our highways to enforce current legislation, so why are we doing this?” he asked. “And two, our trucking industry is going to be put at competitive disadvantage when it comes to other jurisdictions outside Ontario.”
OBAC’s Ritchie reiterated her group’s concerns about the law and appealed to the media to understand that “if a truck engine is governed at 105 km/h, it does not make it a safer truck and it does not make its driver more responsible.”
“We need you people to take this message to the people of Ontario,” Ritchie told the large gathering of mainstream media types. She then turned the mic over to Park, OBAC’s advisor of compliance and regulatory affairs. Park spoke of several studies that have been commissioned on behalf of Transport Canada which he said failed to quantify the province’s claims that speed limiters will improve highway safety.
“The reports are there, the studies are there, all the background’s been done – by Transport Canada no less, a very respectable organization,” he told the media. “They couldn’t come up with anything that really quantified the safety benefits of speed limiters.”
The Teamsters’ McAulay also claimed Bill 41 creates hazards for road users.
“We feel that having two different speed limits on the one highway is going to cause aggressive lane changes, irate drivers, tailgating and several other infractions from the motorists and it’s going to put everybody in jeopardy,” he said. Back online after the event, participants and observers shared mixed emotions on the Facebook site, which can also be found at www.nospeedlimiter.ca.
Some felt the media focused on the poor turnout rather than the issues at hand, while others felt protesters succeeded in communicating their concerns to the public.
While the province hasn’t indicated it will budge from its July 1 full enforcement date, Mooney said he’s still hopeful enforcement will be suspended until lawmakers have time to explore truckers’ concerns in greater detail.