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Villains are everywhere, even in politics

Snidely Whiplash had better watch out - it looks like somebody's after his job.Frank Mazzilli, Ontario MPP for London-Fanshaw, has penned a dastardly scheme to ban trucks from the passing-lanes on any...

Snidely Whiplash had better watch out – it looks like somebody’s after his job.

Frank Mazzilli, Ontario MPP for London-Fanshaw, has penned a dastardly scheme to ban trucks from the passing-lanes on any 400 Series highways in the province.

When I first received an email detailing his Private Members’ Bill 50, I had to read it twice. I couldn’t believe such an idea would even be considered by a government that prides itself on being responsive to the needs of business.

Even the Police Association of Ontario has lent its support to the scheme. I wonder if the group’s administrator, Bruce Miller, and Mazzilli (a former police officer) are old buddies? No police officer I’ve ever met – who understands a thing or two about truck safety – would support this act of lunacy.

There are four critical defects with Snidely Mazzilli’s plot to push trucks into the far right lane. I wonder if he’s even considered them. And if he has, is he telling his House of Commons colleagues about them?

Mazzilli is a consumer, the same as the rest of us. How would he feel about trucks being allowed to pass if the next time he goes to the store to buy milk and finds the dairy case is empty?

Our society has been built around the need for instant gratification. This has led to the Just-In-Time (JIT) delivery system in trucking. Consumers want to buy things now, not later.

“If you’re sold out, no problem, I’ll get it from your competition.”

But what happens when all of the trucks are slowed to the speed of the lowest common denominator? That one minivan with a sticker in the back window that says ‘I brake for soccer,’ would start a ripple effect leading to missed delivery times for every JIT load between Windsor and Montreal.

What goes hand-in-hand with these delays? More pressure, stress and, eventually, road rage.

Rage. Pure and simple.

Our highways are bad enough without forcing truckers to sit helplessly behind some elderly gentleman vacationing from Phoenix.

We’d have a tinderbox of a transportation network – one spark and the whole thing would turn into a donnybrook rivaling the classic battles between the Habs and Bruins.

What will happen the next time Mazzilli rolls through a construction zone and the highway narrows to one lane?

I hope he doesn’t expect a line of trucks five miles long to slow down to let him into the right hand lane. He can wait his turn and go to the back of the line like everyone else.

While Mazzilli’s plot would guarantee that he’d have a truck-free, left lane in front of him as he zips back and forth between London and Queen’s Park, I wonder if he understands that he’d be far more likely to have an accident?

Bill 50 would create a speed differential (one of the most dangerous conditions on the highway today) of at least 30 km-h.

This would have deadly ramifications considering researchers at the University of Texas have suggested a differential as small as eight km-h doubles the likelihood of an accident.

Mr. Mazzilli, if you want to risk your own life, that’s one thing. But please don’t endanger mine as well and then try to tell me that it’s for my own good.

The frightening part is this uneducated proposal has already passed its second reading and could easily become law if nothing is done.

Fortunately if we all pull together and tell the government exactly what we think of this legislation we may be able to kill it before it takes root. I urge everyone to call Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, Brad Clark – MPP Stoney Creek, at either his Queen’s Park number, 416-325-8411, or his constituency office, 905-664-4200. If the minister is made aware of the potential problems, perhaps he can head old Snidely off at the pass. n

– John Curran can be reached by phone at 416-442-2091 or by email at

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