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Monday, December 21, 2009

Premier Stelmach deserves credit for delaying cell phone ban; Art Johnston deserves an early retirement

Drivers in Saskatchewan will face a ban on hand-held cell phone use come January ("Saskatchewan bans hand-held cell phone use while driving; are car radios next?"), but Albertans have been granted a reprieve from a similar law for at least another year. And we have Premier Ed Stelmach to thank for this.

The Calgary Herald is reporting today that:

While most provinces are cracking down on distracted motorists, Premier Ed Stelmach says a new law prohibiting texting and cellphone use while driving isn't a top priority for Alberta and remains likely at least a year away from being adopted.

Stelmach’s Tory government quashed a private member’s bill introduced by Art Johnston that would have banned Albertans from using cell phones while driving. The Tory MLA for Calgary-Hays introduced the bill almost two years ago.

According the Herald report:

A Tory-dominated legislature committee eventually quashed the bill and instead urged the government to adopt legislation that would more easily allow police to ticket distracted drivers for myriad reasons -- including cellphone use -- if it's inducing poor driving.

Of course, traffic laws already exist to punish careless and dangerous driving, making any new legislation unnecessary.

But unnecessary laws are exactly what Art Johnston is about. The 25-year veteran of the Calgary Police Service is happy to take his orders from the city’s chief of police, who supports the ban.

While the ban currently being considered in Alberta would prohibit only hand-held cell phone use – and not hands-free devices – Dr. Louis Francescutti with the Coalition for Cellphone-Free Driving, wants a complete ban on cell phone use, which is where we're likely to end up given the relentless encroachment of government in our lives.

Distracted drivers no doubt cause accidents, but, as Stelmach argues, banning a specific distraction like cell phones will do likely to improve overall traffic safety:

"We haven't seen any positive outcomes, at least measurable, from the most recent information we got out of Newfoundland," the premier said. "What is the difference between a hand-held cellphone in the car or somebody leaning over their steering wheel and punching in the new co-ordinates on their GPS?"

Good point. And what about talking to passengers, disciplining children in the back seat, changing a CD, eating, drinking coffee, checking a map for directions, or daydreaming about an upcoming vacation?

Stelmach is showing good judgement on this issue, at least for now.

As for Art Johnston, here’s hoping the Wildrose Alliance can offer a candidate in Calgary-Hays strong enough to defeat the 62-year-old should he run again. In 2008, Wildrose Alliance candidate Devin Cassidy got only 11% of the vote. But, as recent polls show us, the political landscape has changed in Calgary.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on December 21, 2009 | Permalink


Right on. Now let's do away with drunk driving laws. And what the hell is the prohibition against twelve years old driving cars and trucks all about?

Posted by: Wilson | 2009-12-21 10:54:31 AM

How about we do away with stupid, trolling comments ...

Posted by: Charles | 2009-12-21 11:11:57 AM

Yes. Stupid, trolling comments like yours Charles.

Posted by: Camilla | 2009-12-21 11:31:39 AM

And is it necessary to get out of the way of the emergency vehicles that are on there way to some accident that was caused by some jerk texting his friends...might as go all the way Stelmach...

Posted by: steph | 2009-12-21 11:40:12 AM

"Yes. Stupid, trolling comments like yours Charles."

Ah ... the irony.

The only thing required are stiff penalties which protect property rights. Instead, our governments subsidize irresponsible behaviour and then restrict our liberties.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-12-21 12:51:34 PM

I agree that a total ban is on the way. In fact I predict legislation will one day be imposed on auto manufacturers, that will disable cell phones while the vehicle is in motion. Too bad though.

Posted by: TM | 2009-12-21 5:20:07 PM

As usual the trolls belong to the group which rejects personal responsibility and personal accountability insisting that more controls and regulations are the answer. How stupid we have become as a society!

Posted by: Alain | 2009-12-21 5:54:39 PM

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Posted by: Lucy | 2009-12-22 12:48:58 AM

thanks for the article, I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along ..nice blog

Posted by: bad credit cell phone | 2009-12-23 3:08:07 AM

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