SPECIAL REPORT: OOIDA to challenge speed limiter law in Canada

| 7/8/2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 – OOIDA has retained legal counsel in Canada to pursue potential court action to challenge legislation in Ontario that caps the top road speed of trucks at 105 km/h, or 65 km/h.

The provincial law known as Bill 41 was approved June 16. OOIDA officials said today that Bill 41 discriminates against truckers on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border and violates trade laws including the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“We are vigorously pursuing all appropriate legal remedies to protect the rights of truckers, big and small, to compete fairly and safely across international and provincial borders,” said OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Rick Craig.

Association officials plan to file a “notice of intent” to challenge the legislation known as Bill 41 once the province commits to implementation.

An Ontario Ministry of Transportation spokeswoman said the implementation date could be as early as this fall, followed by six to 12 months of educational time leading up to full enforcement.

OOIDA officials contend that the new law will cause an impediment to interprovincial and international trade by restricting access for trucks from other jurisdictions that do not mandate speed limiters. OOIDA plans to dispute the law on grounds that it violates the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Constitution of Canada.

“We believe the new law discriminates against U.S.-based companies as well as Canadian trucking companies based outside of Ontario by restricting their ability to operate freely throughout Canada,” Craig said.

A legislative committee hearing in Ontario in early June did little to sway lawmakers from the course of action promoted by Ontario Transportation Minister James Bradley, who introduced Bill 41 in March.

“The reasons given by proponents for passing the bill were nothing more than a red herring – or a distraction to the real agenda – and will infringe upon the rights of all extra-provincial truckers who want to pursue their livelihoods to operate throughout Canada,” Craig said.

“We, on the other hand, made bullet-proof arguments addressing the safety, environmental and trade implications of speed limiter legislation. OOIDA has always known the initiative was never about safety or environment, but instead about limiting extra-provincial competition in favor of big business trucking interests in Ontario.”

A spokeswoman for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation said implementation of the speed-limiter requirement will include another round of public input this summer.

“We will conduct extensive stakeholder consultations over the summer, and will be posting a plain language version of the proposed regulation on the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade’s Web site for a public review and comment period of 45 days,” spokeswoman Nicole Lippa-Gasparro told Land Line.

Click here to view the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade Web site. As of Tuesday, July 8, the site did not yet have information about the speed limiter requirement.

Click here to read the final version of Bill 41.

Speed limiters are also an issue in Quebec where provincial lawmakers approved a law with a provision similar to Ontario’s Bill 41.

Quebec officials said they would wait for all Canadian provinces to be on board before enforcing the speed-limiter provision in Quebec, but Ontario officials have put pressure on Quebec’s leaders to follow a more aggressive enforcement schedule in an effort to harmonize the two provinces.

– By David Tanner, staff writer