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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Elizabeth May wants to slow things down on the road to serfdom with mandatory lower speed limits

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May thinks the federal government should introduce mandatory lower speed limits to save energy and lives.

To support her case, May points to a Harvard study that suggests that the high gas prices experienced recently may be the reason for fewer automobile-related deaths this year.  When gas prices go up, people drive less and drive slower, concludes the study.

“If we had mandatory lower speed limits, along with strong enforcement, we could save even more lives. This would also help us lower our greenhouse gas emissions at the same time, not to mention health care costs,” concludes May.

According to Green Party research, driving only ten kilometres slower than you usually do will improve your fuel economy by about 10%. In the event of a crash, the risk of a fatality is more than 50 percent more likely when speeds exceed 96 km/h.

“People usually only think about getting somewhere quickly, but, in fact, their risk of a serious crash increases significantly with only a small increase in speed,” said Blake Poland, Green Party Critic on Health Promotion. “With lower and enforced speed limits, we would save lives, save money and reduce emissions; it’s a good idea all around.”

But is there an even better idea for saving lives and the planet coming from the ranks of the Green Party? Yup.

“Of course, transit, walking or cycling is still the greenest and safest way to travel,” said Mike Nagy, Green Party Environment Critic, “These forms of transportation also need to be encouraged and supported much more than they are now.  This would not only save individuals money but would also help our economy.”

Transit, walking or cycling may be greener than driving, but Canadians like to drive, and they like to drive fast on our big open highways. And if these forms of alternative transportation need only be "encouraged," why not just encourage Canadians to drive a little slower instead of imposing lower mandatory speed limits?

As for the risks? Western Standard columnist and friend of liberty Pierre Lemieux likes the say that the mortality rate in tyrannical societies is the same as in free societies, with one important distinction:

There is a common denominator between these two [free and unfree] worlds: the mortality rate is 100% in both. But the men who live and die are not the same: in the first case, they are slaves; in the second, free individuals.

I hope the free individuals left in Canada reject the Green Party agenda to control even the smallest details of our lives, because there is nothing riskier to health and happiness than the false security of big government.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on December 16, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink

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Comments

I'm sorry, but this is a pretty silly reaction to a simple observation. Highway speeds are already controlled by government - the only thing at issue here is what speeds should be set as the limits. When the "oil crisis" first hit in the 70s, posted speed limits were reduced all over North America. Now the research tells us that lower limits save money and save lives. For some reason, just because Elizabeth May read the report, this is a problem?

Some people just like to write "tyranny" to feel like they're out there on the ramparts, or something.

Posted by: TagTeam | 2008-12-16 5:44:14 AM


This counts as a real news piece? I know the Western Standard is a Conservative mouthpiece, but this post merely took the Green's position and said "Look, it's stupid", without offering an alternative. Your alternative is that Canadians like to drive fast? Canadians also "like" the idea of decriminalizing marijuana, are you going to support that position on the same merits?

Posted by: Chris | 2008-12-16 5:49:49 AM


Some people just like to write "tyranny" to feel like they're out there on the ramparts, or something.

Posted by: TagTeam | 16-Dec-08 5:44:14 AM

Screw the reports. You're biting into my freedoms.
Unless of course you are subscribing to the "greater good" doctrine? In which case screw you too, because that makes you a socialist.
One of the lowest of all life forms.
If I can afford the gas and I'm driving safely, even if its faster than "you like", then I'll damn well do so.
Have a nice day. :)

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-16 6:29:06 AM


Lower speed limits are an effective way of saving energy, that's hard to argue with. I probably saves lives as well, especially in winter.

I've slowed down since the price of fuel jumped skyhigh, but it's not really safe to drive too slowly when everyone else wants to pass you.

Todays vehicles are tuned for higher speeds. I tried slowing down in my SUV, and my mileage got worse. It is most efficient at just over 115, or just under 80. They'll have to reprogram these vehicles to get any benefit from lower speed limits.

Nobody likes lower speed limits, but nobody gets hurt from it either. Think of all the new revenue from speeding tickets. We could pay off the national debt with a couple of photo radar units just south of Ft. MacMurray.

Posted by: dp | 2008-12-16 6:43:09 AM


We could pay off the national debt with a couple of photo radar units just south of Ft. MacMurray.

Posted by: dp | 16-Dec-08 6:43:09 AM

Driving safely is always a good idea.
But its those "revenues" that bother me.
There's no way that money will ever go to pay off the national debt. Nothing will ever pay off the national debt. Its how they keep us in perpetual servitude through taxation. No my friend the national debt is here to stay.

Drive safe. :)

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-16 7:02:05 AM


Wasn't this idea attempted about thirty years ago when the speed limit was reduced to 55mph? If so, it was a failure. Can May contribute anything new to the debate?

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-16 8:09:35 AM


Seriously, DP, even a four-cylinder just loafs along at highway speeds, requiring next to no throttle. Even a 1969 Dodge Charger Fastback with a 454 with four on the floor will get the best mileage on the highway, and no amount of fancy programming is going to change that.

You burn most gas during acceleration, not coasting, and lower speed limits will not obviate the need to accelerate. There's also the fact that cars travelling at less than highway speed will pollute more.

Like most Greenies, our friend Ms. May demonstrates a dismal knowledge of elementary automotive mechanics. She should confine her preaching to areas where she has demonstrable competence--if there are any.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-12-16 8:18:45 AM


Chris wrote: "Your alternative is that Canadians like to drive fast? Canadians also "like" the idea of decriminalizing marijuana, are you going to support that position on the same merits?"

You are obviously new to the Western Standard, Chris. We do agree with the Green Party's position on marijuana decriminalization. And by "we" I mean the management team. Many of our readers still think we're nuts to support drug liberalization.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-12-16 8:24:08 AM


JC- Agreed. When they make more, they waste more.

Zeb- I'm not sure how successful it was. I got a speeding ticket in Idaho in '78. It was only $5, and I paid it on the spot. I was always curious about the amount. A case of beer and pack of smokes cost about $5 in Idaho back then. I know one thing, when Reagan changed things there was a big surge in aerodynamic research and horsepower wars. People were actually interested in cars again.

Posted by: dp | 2008-12-16 8:30:57 AM


Shane, your age is showing. Dodge Chargers didn't have 454s. That's a chev engine. They had 440s, 426 hemis, and more often 383s. A few even had 6 cylinders.

There was a lot of difference in "gearing" back then, vs "programming" now. With a 3.20:1 axle, those cars got almost 20 MPG (hemi excluded). With 4.11:1 axles they were screaming at 70 MPH. But really, nobody cared. In 1970 my brother wore out a set of tires on a trip from Swift Current to Calgary (about 500 Km.). He only had to go around one roadblock. Even on trips like those, someone would probably pass you near Brooks.

Those old cars had terrible aerodynamics. Their top speeds would have been at least 30 MPH faster with drag coefficients like today's cars. Hemi Chargers had close to 700 horsepower(they advertised 425 HP), but couldn't go much faster than 150 MPH. That kind of power would push a new style Charger close to 200 MPH.

Posted by: dp | 2008-12-16 8:48:38 AM


why not take it one step further and make everyone wear helmets while driving or better still only allow unionized government drivers to drive us around in those sissy smart cars, at 50km/hr or less or even better make everyone live within walking distance of work with carbon capture filters over your mouth. That would make May & Layton and his commie lackeys happy, but the the rules wouldn't apply to the Gores, Suzuki's and party elites.

Posted by: x2para | 2008-12-16 8:51:39 AM


TagTeam, my reaction is not toward the straight forward "observation" that driving slower can save energy and lives. I'm sure it's true. Driving not at all would save even more energy and lives if exceptions were made for emergency vehicles and, of course, official government business. Would you support a ban on discretionary driving?

The Harvard study "observation" also contains the answer as far as the right policy response is concerned. When fuel prices are high people slow down and drive less by their own choice. It's a market response to scarcity.

If May wants to force people to slow down primarily for environmental reasons (our highways are engineered for much higher than the posted speed limits) than why not also force people unto buses? We're trying to save the planet after all.

Politicians like May put freedom last on their list of priorities and values.

I want a politician who puts freedom first. Do you think that's "silly"?

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-12-16 8:52:16 AM


Are Green Party members even allowed to drive cars?

Posted by: Johann | 2008-12-16 8:59:04 AM


Can they afford cars?

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-16 9:32:44 AM


Forget the speed limits; do away with bad drivers -- and bad cyclists while you're at it.

Posted by: dewp | 2008-12-16 11:23:32 AM


Matthew, I still don't see what the fuss is about. We have speed limits already. Nobody is talking about new infringments on our freedoms - its just about choosing the most appropriate number for health and safety.

Your freedom to drive too fast infringes on my freedom to survive the accident that's waiting to happen. If cutting highway limits by 10 gives me a 10% better chance of living, and gives us healthier air to breathe and saves us some money, too... don't we have better things to complain about.

BTW - I still feel, too, that this "issue" wouldn't get so much play if anyone but Liz May had commented on it.

Posted by: TagTeam | 2008-12-16 11:25:57 AM


I think Lizzy May would make a swell parade marshal for earth day.. it would take her all year to prepare and she can announce all her sustainable visions by bullhorn.. glasses fogging up riding in her big blue box hugging potted trees. Seriously.. a small earth tax on all new SUVs would pay for the whole parade, it would be a voluntary mail in programe.. make the rich pay whatever..

nobody should be allowed to drive a vehicle faster than a whale can swim ..

Posted by: 419 | 2008-12-16 11:29:30 AM


Tag Team- This issue got a lot of play when Carter brought in the 55 MPH national limit in the seventies. It's probably the most talked about legislation in those years. Remember Sammy Hagar? I can't drive 55? People like to go as fast as they can, and going 55 all day on a big, wide highway gives you a lot of time to get worked up.

Posted by: dp | 2008-12-16 11:36:32 AM


Better still, why not ask all those Greens to surrender themselves to soylent green rendering facilities to be recycled into edible protein, leaving those of us who live on the planet guilt-free to plunder at will.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-12-16 11:53:50 AM


John: uh, no. They give me gas. :)

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-16 11:59:42 AM


What a bunch of blather.

I drove on the German autobahn for 4 years. It had no speed limit and the best safety record in the western world.

Speed vs safety is nothing but a lie that enables cops to steal. Only the gullible believe it.

Posted by: Duder | 2008-12-16 1:13:16 PM


The autobahn was designed for very high speeds, and so are most of the cars(and tires) that drive on it. I don't believe it has a great safety record. The ratio of fatal accidents to non fatal ones is higher than any place in the world. When they have a fender bender, people die.

Here in Alberta, some of the fastest drivers are in 4x4 trucks, with lift kits. They are absolutely unsafe at anything over 100 kph. Their tires are not designed to go over 120 kph for extended periods(more than a couple of km.)

I agree with keeping roads like the autobahn free from speed restrictions, but most people should stay off them, or stay in the slow lane.

Posted by: dp | 2008-12-16 4:21:22 PM


dp: If your case is that bad drivers should be off the road, I agree.

The Autobahn had the best safety record per capita in the western world. It has a great safety record, whether we want to believe it or not.

Posted by: Duder | 2008-12-16 5:06:18 PM


Tag Team, you are right that it gets more attention because it is May. That is the point. She aspires to a position of power and influence.

Posted by: TM | 2008-12-16 8:07:23 PM


The Greens won't be happy until we have nothing at all and we are totally under control. I'll say about them what I'll say about all communists...F*ck em! With everything that knows how.

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-16 8:53:08 PM


JC said: "The Greens won't be happy until we have nothing at all and we are totally under control. I'll say about them what I'll say about all communists."

Spoken like someone who truly has no knowledge of Green roots and policies.
"Sustainability" starts with small government, balanced books. Look it up.
"Communists" for cryin' out loud... pah!

Posted by: TagTeam | 2008-12-16 9:15:04 PM


Sustainability for what? I'm worried the transition will be more painful than the problem. If Kyoto is any indication of what the Greens want to sustain, no thanks.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-16 9:28:42 PM


Both the Western Standard and the Greens have been labelled "libertarian" at one point or another. Here are some key differences between the progressive and the conservative libertarian worldviews:


Elizabeth May says we should reduce speed limits because:

- It will save lives.
- It will reduce pollution.
- It will save Canadians gas money.
- It will reduce health care costs.
- It will reduce our dependence on foreign oil.


Matthew Johnston says we should *not* reduce speed limits because:

- Me like drive!
- Car go fast!
- Car go ZOOM!
- ZOOM, car, ZOOM!!
- VVVRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRMMMMMM!! KKKRSSSHHH!! YAAAAY!!! :D


Maybe you should get off politics and stick to NASCAR reporting?

Posted by: Skippy | 2008-12-17 6:55:58 AM


Spoken like someone who truly has no knowledge of Green roots and policies.
"Sustainability" starts with small government, balanced books. Look it up.
"Communists" for cryin' out loud... pah!

Posted by: TagTeam | 16-Dec-08 9:15:04 PM


Green roots and policies are ridiculous at their core. Their goal is control, period. Because they have no real plan that will actually make one damned bit of difference. And they know it.
The Greens are the new face of communist control.
Elizabeth May in and of herself demonstrates quite clearly just how convoluted and ridiculous the whole thing really is.

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-17 9:18:36 AM


Both the Western Standard and the Greens have been labelled "libertarian" at one point or another.
Posted by: Skippy | 17-Dec-08 6:55:58 AM

The Greens have been called "Libertarian"?
By whom? What an idiotic assertion.
The Greens are on a planet all their own my skippy friend. (Or at least they should be)
You se Libertarians are about choice and NOT telling people how to live. As opposed to telling everyone how to live under a few idiotic presumptions that simply down bear out with any facts or real logic at all.

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-17 9:22:29 AM


Should read:

that simply *don't* bear out with any facts or real logic at all.


Posted by: JC | 17-Dec-08 9:22:29 AM

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-17 9:24:10 AM


LOL. That was pretty funny Skippy. :-)

I bridle when politician attempt to control behaviour because things like safety, the environment, saving money, etc are less important to me than freedom. The state almost never intrudes on our freedoms for bad reasons. They are always trying to protect us from something.

Furthermore, the Greens (and others) will creep toward further and further controls over our lives in the name of environmental preservation. (The Conservatives will do it national security concerns, among other things. For Greens the planet will never be clean enough; for Conservatives the jails will never be too full.)

This should be stopped.

And while I support regulated speed limits, I would say that there is competing research about the relationship between speed and traffic accidents. (Do you recall the debate in Montana?)

Also, as the study shows, people drive less and drive slower when fuel prices go up. It's a market response that saves money, saves resources, reduces emissions, etc. I say leave it at that.

When we're awash in oil again -- if ever -- let people enjoy the simple pleasure of a high speed Sunday drive on a very open, safe Canadian highway.

All the reasons you mention for mandatory speed reductions can also be made for restricting driving entirely, or rationing this “privilege”. Fewer cars on the road -- perhaps only government and emergency vehicles -- would save resources, money, lives, reduce emissions, etc.

Would you support that? If you wouldn't, then you're on my side, Skippy. (I'm not happy about that either, dude.)

Laissez nous faire.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-12-17 11:14:23 AM


Matthew,

Glad you enjoyed my comment, and that you can take a joke! I just couldn't resist.

First off, for JC: It's not my assertion that the Greens are libertarian, but it's an accusation that some of my NDP friends often make. I have noticed a libertarian streak in many Green politicians and commentators, but they obviously have some of the same nanny-statism you see in all political parties. They do want to govern us, after all.

Nevertheless, in the case of environmental protection, most people recognize that to a certain extent we are obliged to protect the Earth from ourselves. Every government in the world has protections in place against pollution, as does every political party in Canada. You say, "This should be stopped," without bothering specify to what extent you WOULD allow legal environmental protection. You've only offered extreme and ridiculous counterexamples to illustrate your point. Yes, outlawing cars would also save lives. But frankly, nobody is suggesting we do that. It's a strawman.

I could just as easily ask you if you'd legalize dumping? How about cutting down endangered forests? You could probably even make a free-market economic case for it, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to stop it.

Strictly relying on consumer behaviour and "market response" to prevent pollution and multi-car crashes is irresponsible, and it's statements like those that turn people off the libertarian philosophy. Should we only discourage toxic wastewater dumping when it becomes cost-prohibitive to do so? As far as I can tell, melamine is still pretty cheap. Maybe I should bake some into my next Christmas cake?

I think it's safe to say that your right to a leisurely (yet "high-speed"?) Sunday drive ends at someone else's right to not go flying through their windshield. I maintain that your personal enjoyment of joyriding is what's colouring your entire "argument." This is why you threw casual mentions of the Autobahn and Montana in there — I mean, if you want to argue good policy based on studies and facts, then please do so. Because that's exactly what Ms. May is attempting to do. Give her some credit for that, instead of invoking some totalitarian bogeyman that simply don't exist.

Finally, I'll make no attempt to mask the fact that I absolutely agree that less driving, fewer highways and less focus on suburbs is the way to go. And that's the way the market is going to take us, anyway. Might as well beat them to the chequered flag.

So it's very possible we're not on the same side on this one. I often have heated arguments with my motorist friends over things like this. Me, I ride a bike.

Posted by: Skippy | 2008-12-17 4:41:55 PM


Drive as fast as you'd like on your own property. That's freedom. Public roads, however, are public and subject to "tyrannical" the law of the land.

This is much akin to the Mormons saying their free speech is being attacked when people chose to exercise their OWN free speech (and free market abilities) to speak out against them (or shop/visit/spend elsewhere.)

Posted by: M | 2008-12-17 8:25:32 PM


test

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-12-17 8:51:54 PM


Eventually, it will be discovered that Betty May runs on one fo those batteries that you can't replace when they (thankfully) burn out.

I pick Canadian politicians the way I choose toys for my children. Before purchasing the latter, I always ask myself: "Will this thing bug the daylights outta me? Will I eventually want to jump on it while wearing my Docs?" If the answer is no, I buy it.

My suggestion to Canadian political parties is that they adopt a similar approach when selecting party leaders.

Face it. Very few are the Moms or Dads who would purchase an Elizabeth May Doll! Little girls don't need to be TAUGHT to jabber. Jabbering is (usually) a phase in the acquisition of first language skills. Elizabeth May just happens to have gotten stuck in that phase. There's no need to PRAISE her for it!

Posted by: Pesky Pundit | 2008-12-19 9:46:18 AM


Bravo to the Standard. The Green party must *never* be allowed the reigns of power, in a coalition or alone.

Posted by: Lisa | 2008-12-24 2:00:11 PM


First off, for JC: It's not my assertion that the Greens are libertarian, but it's an accusation that some of my NDP friends often make. I have noticed a libertarian streak in many Green politicians and commentators, but they obviously have some of the same nanny-statism you see in all political parties. They do want to govern us, after all.
Posted by: Skippy | 2008-12-17 4:41:55 PM

Thanks for clearting that up.

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-24 3:28:46 PM


PS Skippy,
I'm a believer in more responsible stewardship of our land and resources. But I happen to believe that it could be done with private property rights and responsibility for those rights.

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-24 3:30:32 PM


This is much akin to the Mormons saying their free speech is being attacked when people chose to exercise their OWN free speech (and free market abilities) to speak out against them (or shop/visit/spend elsewhere.)

Posted by: M | 2008-12-17 8:25:32


That's not a fair coomparison at all.

You're comparing someone's "feelings" to the "physics" of a stretch of highway and an automobile designed to travel very quickly on that asphalt strip. We already have speed limits that work pretty well.
Lizzie is just poking around for another political soapbox to preach from. Ignore her.

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-24 3:33:52 PM



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