SPECIAL REPORT: OOIDA says Quebec reneged on speed limiter pledge

| 11/4/2008

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 – OOIDA officials say Quebec Transportation Minister Julie Boulet has reneged on previous statements that she would wait on the rest of Canada before implementing a speed-limiter mandate for heavy trucks in her province.

Boulet recently announced that speed limiters will be mandatory on all heavy trucks operating in Quebec starting Jan. 1, 2009, and are to be set at a maximum of 105 kilometers per hour, or 65 mph. The mandate includes all trucks weighing in excess of 26,000 pounds and doing business in the province, regardless of where they are from.

In a news release issued in North America today, officials at OOIDA stated that they believe the “changé l'esprit” does not fully consider all the economic implications.

“Our members are furious,” OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Rick Craig said.

“Not only is Minister Boulet going back on her word, she is also disregarding the grim implications this decision will have on trade at a time when Canada and the U.S. can least afford it.”

On Dec. 13, 2007, during the article-by-article reading of Bill 42 in Quebec’s provincial parliament, Boulet said Quebec would not implement a speed-limiter mandate until Transport Canada completed studies evaluating the effectiveness of speed limiters and until all other provinces had agreed to similar mandates.

Transport Canada completed and released its studies this past spring, but by no means conveyed a glowing evaluation of mandated speed limiters in Canada.

In addition, Ontario is the only other province to have approved a speed limiter mandate.

Ontario transportation officials have also chosen Jan. 1, 2009, for their implementation date as a result of legislative caucuses with Quebec officials.

With the exception of a wait-and-see attitude expressed in the province of New Brunswick, officials in other Canadian provinces have made no moves to implement a government mandate on speed limiters. Officials in a number of provinces have told Land Line Magazine that they will not pursue speed limiter legislation any time soon.

The trucking industry is among the hardest hit by the economic downturn in North America.

According to a study produced by Avondale Partners, the United States alone has seen more than 2,500 trucking companies close up shop in the first three quarters of 2008, most of those being small and mid-sized trucking operations, the OOIDA news release stated.

Thousands more small companies with fleets of five or fewer trucks also terminated operations in that time frame, but were not tracked by the study. OOIDA leaders contend that if Ontario and Quebec implement speed limiter mandates, many U.S. truckers will lose their routes and will not be able to compete in Quebec and Ontario.

Small-business truckers from those provinces and throughout Canada will also be placed at a major competitive disadvantage.

“It’s unbelievable that in an economic climate where people are struggling to maintain their livelihoods, Quebec has decided to ignore their commitment to wait on this mandate,” Craig stated. “They appear to be deliberately impacting trade. We will not sit idly by and let them put truckers out of business.

“The large trucking corporations who are pushing for a speed limiter mandate well know it will not increase safety or benefit the environment as they’ve advertised. They’re in it for limiting competition and harming the little guy.”

Noting that trucks are exclusively responsible for moving 70 percent of goods and commerce in North America and 80 percent of freight related to cross-border trade, Craig stated in the news release that: “Considering that public officials throughout North America are scrambling to find ways to jump start their economies, Quebec’s decision makes absolutely no sense. If Minister Boulet follows through with this announcement, thousands of truckers throughout Canada and the U.S. will effectively be barred from operating in Quebec. That is a serious anti-competitive move that cannot go unchallenged.”

OOIDA is prepared to file a Notice of Intent to Submit a Claim to Arbitration for breach of Canada’s obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement upon implementation of the speed limiter mandate

 – By David Tanner, staff writer