LL EXCLUSIVE: Speed limiters emerge as Ontario election issue

| 5/28/2009

The race for leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario may not seem very interesting to the average trucker, but at least two of the candidates are campaigning to overturn the speed-limiter law for trucks.

The Progressive Conservatives will choose a party leader in June who will pose a challenge to the ruling Liberal Party in 2011. The leadership runoff is similar to a U.S. primary.

Candidate Frank Klees, a member of provincial parliament from Newmarket-Aurora, has sided with small-business truckers on the issue of speed limiters since before the Liberals passed the law. Klees said if he were elected Ontario premier he would put the speed-limiter issue under the microscope and undertake a comprehensive review.

“I would have no hesitation to rescind the legislation if it was demonstrated that it is counterproductive,” Klees told Land Line.

“Not only will we look at economic implications, but the health and safety of truck drivers and the motoring public alike.”

Klees said speed limiters on trucks create a “train with no track.”

“I’ve already experienced it on the 400 series highways. And I don’t like what I’m seeing in terms of the blockage of lanes, the inability of the trucks to complete a safe passing. It concerns me that we may have created, with this legislation, some significant issues for motorists.”

Candidate Randy Hillier, an MPP representing Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, is campaigning to protect small businesses from big government.

“One (proposal) is to increase speed limits on our 400 series highways and eliminate the speed limiters that were introduced on highway tractors earlier this year. I find them dangerous, just from experience,” Hillier told Land Line.

He said the 400 series highways were developed to handle 70 mph traffic, but the posted speed was lowered years ago to 100 kilometers per hour, or about 62 mph. Traffic flow continues to be considerably above the posted limit, more like 75 mph, Hillier said. The government’s speed-limiter law restricts trucks to a top speed of 105 km/h, or 65 mph.

“We’ve seen the slowdown in traffic when tractors have to go out and pass other rigs, and their speeds are governed, and they’re impeding the flow of traffic,” he said.

Land Line has contacted the campaigns of MPP Tim Hudak of Niagara West-Glanbrook, and MPP Christine Elliott of Whitby-Oshawa, and is still waiting to hear back on their stance on the issue of speed limiters.

The four PC candidates will square off in the election June 21 and June 25. Voters must be registered members of the Progressive Conservative Party to get a vote in the runoff.

Polls are scheduled to be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 21, and from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, June 25.

– By David Tanner, staff writer