Drivers, take your credit card!
Our provincial government has re-written much of the highway code. There are new and significant fines for all sorts of violations, including radical penalties for texting while driving and showing little mercy to cyclists who push the boundaries of good road behaviour. Plus new violations for speeding in certain zones, and, here’s a big one, a provision which will require alcohol-triggered car-locks on the cars of alcohol violators. While internet trolls are kicking and shrieking, I’ve heard few criticisms of the changes themselves from ordinary drivers.
Their criticisms, however, focus on the manner in which these changes were announced – or not announced, to be more exact – to the pubic. While some have heard of the changes, most folks I canvassed either haven’t heard a word of them or remain in the dark as to exactly what are the changes and penalties. How come such secrecy for a public bill?
The trolls, as usual, see in this government secrecy all sorts of conspiracies and evil intentions. “A big cash grab!” is the common cry from this choir. Some cycling enthusiasts see the changes as deliberately punitive toward cyclists, while others claim the changes still favour “the few” (on bikes) over commuters, stuck in traffic (which is not being improved).
Given that “ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law” this secretive policy of the government now puts the burden of finding out the changes on the citizens themselves. You and I are supposed to research government websites, and so on, to find out just how it is we are expected to drive. In the old days (not so old, really, just before the present government took power) we would take brochures from the licence bureau or explanatory leaflets left in public places; there would be public notices in all the media, from local newspapers like this one to the big dailies, TV, and radio – plus the internet. No more.
It’s now our job to dig up this vital (and costly) information. Is this good government? Isn’t it obvious that ordinary people in every walk of life, living in downtown cores as well as in rural communities which have non-existent cell service, that all taxpayers should be guaranteed the pertinent information – rather than surprised by a $600 road fine for a new violation?
Doesn’t good government policy dictate that each ministry use whichever media it takes to get this information out to as many citizens as possible? Since when has “look it up yourself!” been a communications policy of any government branch? Apparently now.
Unfortunately, with an election coming in our province, the opposition will use this irresponsible communications policy as another sign of the present government’s arrogance toward its voters and taxpayers (the CAQ will add the highway act to the Liberals’ dismemberment of our health system). Given that the Liberals are not leading the polls, these changes, which may be good in themselves, will end up further obscured in the electoral fray.
Good government? Really?