North/East Ontario RAC director Bill Unger, VE3XT, is calling us to support his effort to lobby the provincial government to extend the temporary exemption that amateurs in Ontario currently have when it comes to the distracted driving law (Bill 118). BTW our new Ontario south Director should be part of this effort.
The exemption is going to run out soon and all amateurs in Ontario need to get involved.
Let’s get a couple things straight:
- Bill Unger is a good guy who is fighting for our privileges to operate our mobile radio equipment with handheld devices like microphones while driving in the province of Ontario;
- We all need to get behind Bill Unger and fight to get the exemption made permanent.
- Amateur Radio wasn’t part of the problem that create the political need to pass Bill 118 and we aren’t part of the solution of distracted driving;
- RAC would help serve the cause if they created a draft letter for clubs and associations to use as a template;
- Many other jurisdictions have exempted Amateur Radio and Ontario should be one of them.
Bill needs to get these letters of support ASAP. In addition, he needs to draft a covering statement in plain language that clearly states our position and requests the Minister action on this matter.
The package should also include a document that lists the various states and provinces which have deemed it appropriate to exempt their amateur radio operators from distracted driving legislation.
Here’s how you can help. Ask your local Red Cross branch, Salvation Army, municipal officials, police departments, fire services, running clubs or whoever you’ve helped by providing communications to provide you with a simple letter of support.
(It could go something like:
To Whom It May Concern:
The ABC Running Club of North Bay Ontario wishes to acknowledge the invaluable free communications services provided to our organization by the North Bay Amateur Radio Club. For over 10 years now… We understand that amateur radio operators in Ontario currently are exempt from Bill 118 the distracted driving legislation and we ask that this exemption be made permanent as it is in so many other jurisdictions across North America. By doing so, it will ensure the ability of Ontario’s amateur radio community to continue to provide communications services to organizations such as ours. Please feel free to contact us if we can provide further information.)
Once Bill has his package together, he needs to book a meeting with the Minister and make the presentation. My experience working within the Ontario government has me thinking we have at least a 50-50 chance at getting our exemption made permanent. All we need to do is provide the Minister with a reasoned argument and make a professional presentation.
Let’s get behind Bill Unger on this initiative.
I’m copying his letter which came as a RAC Bulletin in case you’re not a member of RAC:
Just back from Dayton and we got a great response from a lot of Canadian hams who came by the booth and already planning for next year.Why I am sending you this email is just a gentle reminder that I really need letters of support from 3rd party groups and organizations. If you help with communications for any group or are part of an emergency response procedure for your community we need a letter from them.
I am not looking for a letter asking or telling any one that we need to continue to be able to operate mobile but rather a strong statement that Amateurs are important to the operation of their event or emergency preparedness plan. We need to show the bureaucrats and technocrats that Amateurs are a vital group and provide many community services that so far has gone unnoticed. Stated simply, we need to ???get on their radar???. The letters can be addressed to either Kathleen Wynn or your individual group.
Once the legislators understand that Ontario Amateurs provide a service that fills the needs of many diverse groups and organizations across the province I believe we can change their minds. This logic has worked in other provinces and it will work here as well.
Thanks and please try to get those letters to me soon.
Bill Unger VE3XT <firstname.lastname@example.org>
North/East Ontario Regional Director
Radio Amateurs of Canada