Today in the legislature I rose to speak to Bill 15: The Motor Vehicle Amendment Act. The amendments in this bill will affect the AirCare program and the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program. It adds an official end to AirCare, which stopped running on December 31st 2014, for light duty passenger cars and trucks. For IRP it legislates mandatory participation in anti-drunk driving programs for repeat offenders (including ignition interlock systems).
Bill 15 would also make it harder for drivers to drive in the left lane of a high-speed highway, specify approved winter tires/use of chains, and allow municipalities to regulate motorcycle parking to within six metres of intersections with traffic control signs or signals.
Below is the text of my speech (note previously Leonard Krog from Nanaimo had me in stitches during his speech a few minutes earlier in the day. I continued the banter towards the end of my speech).
A. Weaver: I, too, echo the sentiments as expressed by the member for Delta South, particularly with respect to the burden of proof, which in several places in this legislation is being moved. “The burden of proof in a review of a driving prohibition” is now on the individual. This is not really consistent with what most British Columbians believe and want to happen in our province — that is, innocent until proven guilty. The implication here, of course, is guilty until proven innocent, and I wonder to what extent that actually would be held up under a legal challenge.
In fact, our Justice Minister admits that the government’s contentious drunk-driving penalties may again be challenged as unconstitutional. In the Vancouver Sun she was quoted as saying, “Yes, it may very well be challenged, but we have great confidence in the program and in the good that the program does for safety on British Columbia’s highways.” I would hope that during third reading we’ll be able to explore this and determine whether or not the Minister of Justice, via the Minister of Transportation, would be able to clarify some of the rationale behind their government getting legal opinion that would support this as actually standing up in courts.
Like the member for Nanaimo, I, too, had many, many groups of people not come to my office concerned about motorcycle parking six metres from the intersections. I gather that this is an issue in some jurisdictions. In Victoria, Oak Bay–Gordon Head, left-lane driving certainly is an issue, as every one of the members here will know, coming from either the ferries or the airport. I think left-lane driving started in Victoria and, in fact, despite this legislation, will never change here in the capital regional district.
There are rules in place already that can deal with left-lane drivers if they’re holding up traffic. I’m not sure that this emphasis on fines and fees is either enforceable or, in fact, will ever be enforceable. Our police system’s services are taxed at the best of times, and pulling over people driving in the left lane is probably not number one on their priorities.
I recognize this populist approach to introducing policy that people will hang their hat on and be all very pleased with. I know everybody at one time has been frustrated — as I was just yesterday, coming back from the airport — when two people are driving side by side on the highway at 70 kilometres an hour when the speed limit is 90. Does that mean we should be ticketing them? Does that mean we should be just maybe perhaps pulling them over and talking with them? There is legislation that would presently allow police to deal with such people if they do, in fact, believe that they are causing a hazard on the road.
One of the things that I was hoping to see in this legislation, which I recognize is minor tinkering with the Motor Vehicle Act, is some discussion about how repeat texters, repeat hand-held device users, are also dealt with. There’s a lot in here implied about drunk-driving legislation, but it really is not much different from repeat offenders of texting. There are those people out there who have been caught many times.
There are means and ways to actually have your phone linked into interlock programs, much like exist for drunk driving. I was wondering. I will explore further at third reading whether the government has actually explored this as perhaps also including interlock repeat texting offender programs. I do applaud the government in actually introducing text to ensure that the person requiring the ignition interlock program does, in fact, pay for it.
In terms of the AirCare program, you might expect someone from the B.C. Green Party to stand up here and criticize government for removing an AirCare program, but the reality of it is that cars have changed in the last decade. Most cars today on the streets have air quality emission standards that are far beyond anything that existed ten years ago. As pointed out in discussions on this legislation, there still is an ability to require people to fix their tailpipe if they are deemed to be driving a car that is creating unsightly or unhealthy air quality emissions.
With that, I do look forward to third reading. I do have some concerns with the left-lane legislation, despite the fact that I agree that it is something that people may consider. I will be likely amending that these be struck from the bill, as I believe they are awfully punitive and are unenforceable, and in fact, legislation already exists on the books to allow police to deal with this.
I believe that these left-lane-hog rules are nothing more than populist politics catering to a demographic that is perhaps not likely to consider voting in the future. This is rather cynical of me, but really, we’ve got some critical issues in this province to deal with. Motorcycle parking six metres from an intersection, left-lane driving….
I recognize that the member for Nanaimo likes the left and the Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation likes to drive in the right. You’re not addressing my problem here. My problem is that I like to drive right in the middle in between both lanes, and this legislation ignores people like me.
L. Krog: You know what happens to chickens in the middle of the road.
A. Weaver: The member for Nanaimo has asked me if I know what happens with chickens in the middle of the road. I think it’s important for me to address that. They don’t last very long, but legislation could be brought in place to ensure that they do.
Deputy Speaker: Certainly, the member digresses.
A. Weaver: I’m sorry, hon. Speaker. It was truly, though, a defining moment of my time here in the Legislature when the Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation came over and sat beside my colleague here, the member for Nanaimo, and discussed left- versus right-lane driving just a matter of moments ago.
With that, I thank you for your time, and I look forward to third reading.
Deputy Speaker: Seeing no further speakers, the minister closes debate.
Hon. S. Anton: I do appreciate the members’ comments on this important piece of legislation. I look forward to canvassing the issues during the committee stage. Although for the member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head, I’m not sure that we’re going to be able to deal with the middle-lane piece. But I’m confident that the other pieces of the legislation will be dealt with in an appropriate manner when the time comes.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill 15.
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