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Chevrette grows camera shy

QUEBEC CITY, Que. -- The Parti Quebecois cares more about votes than about saving lives charges at least one road-s...

QUEBEC CITY, Que. — The Parti Quebecois cares more about votes than about saving lives charges at least one road-safety lobbyist.

This criticism of the ruling party came as hearings into the provincial government’s plan to install photo-radar machines throughout the province wrapped up with Transport Minister Guy Chevrette waffling over whether to go ahead with the proposal.

“Photo radar is not politics,” says Catherine Hirou, a road-safety engineer. “It’s a tool to save people’s lives. I guess lives don’t really matter as long as there are enough people left to vote for the PQ.”

For months, Transport Minister Guy Chevrette has been trumpeting the value of photo radar, stating it was a done deal. Now, he’s backtracking and claiming the decision is out of his hands.

After presentations by 12 groups during two days of hearings that ended yesterday, Chevrette says it’s up to his cabinet colleagues now to decide. Chevrette says he will give them two choices: either rewrite the proposed photo-radar law or accept it with a whack of amendments.

“The bill merits an enormous amount of amendments and I think it can be rewritten,” he tells reporters.

The law, if passed, would spark a pilot project where four radar machines would be installed and moved around in about 40 identified trouble spots. Drivers would be warned the machines are there.

The provincial ombudsman blasted the proposal because it is the vehicle owner that gets penalized when he receives the ticket in the mail, not necessarily the driver. Along the same lines, fleets say it will cause a logistic nightmare trying to ensure the ticket finds its way to the right person.

Guy Paquette, a road-safety expert at Laval University, says there’s plenty of research showing photo radar improves over-all road safety. He estimates one police officer with a car catching speeders costs $125,000 per year while one photo-radar machine would cost $18,000.

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