Ontario panel hears speed-limiter appeal from Michaud team

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 3/12/2015

The highest court in Ontario, Canada, has heard the appeal from a trucker’s attorney challenging the provincial law that requires trucks to have speed limiters set at or below 65 mph.

The appeal was argued Tuesday, March 10, in the Ontario Court of Appeals by attorney David Crocker on behalf of the late Gene Michaud, an OOIDA member from St. Catharines, Ontario. The decision now resides with a panel of judges who will take a few weeks to issue a written ruling.

Michaud received a citation from a truck inspector in 2009 for not having his speed limiter set at 65 mph or below. He had it set at 68 mph. The provincial government, at the behest of the Ontario Trucking Association, passed and signed the sleep-limiter provision into the Highway Traffic Act in 2008.

Michaud claimed the slower speed setting created situations and interactions on the highways that harmed his security of person under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Having the speed limiter set in Ontario also hindered his ability to do business in other provinces and in the U.S. where speed limits are posted at or above 70 mph in numerous states.

In 2012, an Ontario traffic court judge tossed out Michaud’s citation and declared that the provincial law harmed his ability to operate safely.

The province appealed, but Michaud, who had been battling cancer, passed away before his appeal went to court. About a year after his death, the Ontario Court of Justice ruled to overturn the traffic court decision.

Michaud’s wife, Barbara, and his attorney have carried on the case on his behalf with permission from the court.

In the province’s appeal of the traffic court decision, the Ontario Court of Justice did not buy Michaud’s claim about speed differentials or their potential harm to a trucker’s safety, and sided with the province.

The Ontario Court of Appeals agreed in 2014 to hear one more appeal from Crocker concerning the constitutionality of the law and the trucker’s right to personal safety, and that was the appeal that was heard on Tuesday.

Following oral arguments, Crocker reported that the panel listened intently to his case, and asked pointed questions concerning speed differentials and why truckers would have a problem with speed limiters being set at 65 mph – which is 105 kilometers per hour in Canada’s metric system.

Crocker said the panel could render any number of decisions. Those could include sustaining the appeal and striking down the provincial law; keeping the law in place but adjusting the 65 mph maximum speed; finding errors in the way the case was presented; or deciding to remand the case for a new trial. The three-member judges’ panel could take six weeks to decide.

See related stories:
Appeal will proceed in OOIDA member’s challenge of Ontario speed limiters
Wife of OOIDA member fights on against ‘unconstitutional’ law

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