SPECIAL REPORT: Truckers protest Ontario speed-limiter law

| 3/2/2009

TORONTO -- Monday, March 2, 2009 – Modest in numbers, but certainly not lacking in energy

Photo by David Tanner

OOIDA member Scott Mooney addresses reporters on Monday, March 2, during a protest of government-mandated speed limiters.

and dedication, a group of truckers made the most of a cold Monday morning by descending on the provincial government headquarters in Toronto to protest a law they say is unfair to all professional truck drivers.

The issue is about not speed limiters themselves, it’s about the government law and regulations that make the limiters mandatory for all heavy trucks traveling on Ontario highways.

It’s a law that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada have been fighting since large motor carrier groups began pushing for a government mandate.

Despite a wind-chill of well below freezing on Monday, March 2, the truckers and their supporters drew an audience of media and two lawmakers on the steps of Queen’s Park.

They were there to raise awareness about why mandatory speed limiters will harm competition and will not lead to safer highways as the Liberal Party government insists.

“What every trucker in Ontario and across North America is concerned about is the safety risks associated with this law for every motorist that uses the highways,” organizer Scott Mooney, an OOIDA member from Cambridge, Ontario, said.

“A lot of these questions have been put to our transportation minister and the premier’s office, and so far we’ve received no response.”

Joining the truckers at the podium were two members of Ontario’s two opposition parties, Member of Provincial Parliament Gilles Bisson of the New Democratic Party and Member of Provincial Parliament John O’Toole of the Conservative Party.

“I think one of the large problems with this legislation is that it couldn’t have come at a worse time,” Bisson said.

“If we’re diverting our money toward speed limiters, that’s saying we don’t have money for enforcement.

Bisson said that from a safety perspective, the limiters themselves could become problematic.

“If you’re driving down the road at 105 kilometers per hour (the provincial mandate) and all of a sudden you’re facing a jack-knife situation, the corrective action is to speed up a little bit and get that trailer moving,” Bisson said.

Trucker Mike Scott from Ohio attended the protest to demonstrate that the Ontario law affects all truckers who do business in the province regardless of where they are base plated.

“It’s a cash cow for the government,” Scott told Land Line.

“It’s not speed that kills; it’s inexperience. This will add more cost to the truckers.”

Also attending in support of the truckers were Joanne Ritchie and Jim Park of OBAC and Robert “Bud” McAulay of the Teamsters.

Trucker Jack Logan stepped to the podium to say that “the gloves are off,” literally. He concluded his speech by tossing several pairs of gloves at the feet of reporters.

Major Toronto media were on hand to cover the event. While some morning talk shows focused on the modest turnout, others chose to key in on the real issues.

For Mooney, the day was a success because it drew attention to real problems that truck drivers face – and will continue to face – on Ontario highways.

“It doesn’t matter about numbers right now,” Mooney told Land Line. “This is about getting the word out to the public, and it’s going very well.”

– By David Tanner, staff writer