Monthly Archive for June, 2009

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No word yet on Bill 118

I (VE3HG) was in personal touch with the Minister of Transport’s assistant and there is no decision yet (June 10) on an exemption for amateur radio when it comes to Bill 118.

So now is the time to ensure we’ve reached as many Ontario amateurs (regardless of whether or not they are RAC members) and invite them to offer their comments at the Ministry of Transportation Bill 118 comments page.

Here’s the page address:

http://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/quickSearch.do?searchType=current

Ontario hams cooperate on Bill 118 comments

I’m getting lots (and lots) of emails and links to comments found on individual’s web blogs written by amateurs across Ontario. This is exactly the right thing to do. Let’s keep talking to each other and offering our individual comments to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation: http://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=1902

We can’t possibly predict how Bill 118 will or will not impact amateur radio use in Ontario but we can predict with 100 per cent certainty that if we as an amateur community don’t work together and work hard we will get the legislation we deserve. So go out to your radio club meetings and talk this up. If you feel it appropriate, activate your community service telephone calling lists and ask everyone to make sure that their voice is heard. Alert all your participants at Field Day.

Now is not the time to create a petition or take the next action steps. We may well find that all is well as a result of our efforts. Sometime after June 17 we’ll likely know more about how or if Bill 118 will affect amateur radio operation in Ontario.

Until then, keep up the good work. (And don’t hestitate to leave comments on this blog too so all can read them.)

Bill 118 – Comment suggestions

This (slightly edited) piece comes from Alasdair Robertson, VE3RAA, the executive director of the Canadian Association of Rally Sport which is one of the other amateur-radio related groups that has joined with Radio Amateurs of Canada and the Toronto FM Society to fight any impact of Bill 118 on Ontario hams.

Comment from our members is good. I would suggest that we ask them to make the following points:

1. A recognition that Amateur Radio is safe and reasonable activity in a car.

2. A recognition that Amateur Radio deserves at least equal standing to CB, taxi, tow-truck radios, etc.

In support of these points, our members should make the case that:

1. Amateur radio should be specifically exempted by the regulations for Bill 118. "Drivers holding a valid amateur radio operator license issued by Industry Canada and using a half-duplex two-way radio."

2. Amateur radio operators are federally licensed and highly trained; unlike CB, taxi, tow-truck and other operators likely to be exempted in the regulations.

3. Amateur radio operators are an essential communications link in cases of natural or man-made disaster.

4. Amateur radio operators are an essential communications link at community, sporting, and public service events.

5. Amateur radio operators are currently exempted from anti-cell phone legislation in various other jurisdictions in recognition of the important public service they offer.

I would further suggest that no mention be made of:

1. Contesting.

2. Complex transmission modes, including CW, or any complex equipment installations.

3. The daily commute ‘rag-chew’

To add to what Alasdair is suggesting:

It is important that we ask STAY ON MESSAGE. It is entirely counter productive to make some other case than what has been circulated to ministry staff, the minister’s office, and to our supporters at Queen’s Park. It is also important that any materials we provide ARE NOT simply cut and pasted into an email by dozens of people.

Each response should provide the same message, but it shouldn’t be identical. Personal stories of public service ("I’m an ARES member who…" or "I provide communications for the…") would be very useful.

It would also be very useful if the presidents of the various clubs responded on behalf of their members, including references to their areas of coverage and number of members. We want to show that we are province-wide and include many people.

Above all, we want to present ourselves as calm, reasonable men and women who are conscious of our responsibility to operate our cars and our radios safely.

Bill 118

To aid those interested in the history of Bill 118, there is now a Bill 118 category to be found under the Categories heading in the right side column of the RAC blog.

Bill 118 responses

If the emails received over the weekend are any indication, Ontario amateur radio operators in great numbers are sending their reasoned and persuasive comments to the Ministry of Transportation in regards to Bill 118. This comes as a result of a government invitation to all stakeholders, not just amateur radio operators, to offer their comments about Bill 118 which will be introduced on Ontario roadways this fall.

A few individuals are expressing concern and surprise about what is happening. I’d suggest these folks read the previous blog entries to get themselves up to speed on Bill 118 and how the government process works. The Bill is still in the hands of staff who crafted the wording of the Bill which has passed third reading in the Legislature and is now law. Where we are now is in a process where exemptions and other fine tuning of the wording is taking place. Now is the time to add our comments to the process.

Let’s be clear on one point: This isn’t a RAC initiate.

It isn’t an initiative of the other stakeholders in this process. (At two stakeholders’s meetings organized by the Ontario Ministry of Transport over 50 groups and associations including RAC and two other amateur-radio related groups made presentations.) This situation was forced on us as a result of the passing of Bill 118 that is designed to make Ontario roadways safer by making the use of non hands-free cell phones illegal while driving. 

This campaign is your intiative. By joining with your fellow amateur radio operators (whether they are or are not RAC members), we all stand together in defense of amateur radio operation in Ontario. Regardless of the outcome of this single issue, we the amateur radio community in Ontario will be stronger and better able to work together on future issues. And future issues are heading our way as governments continue to get more involved in tower issues, issues about public health from radiated signals and other issues we have not yet thought.

So what if we do find the use of two-way radios gets included in Bill 118? It will mean that amateur radio operators who wish to use their mobile amateur radio equipment while in a moving vehicle will have to use a hands-free system (BlueTooth, headset). But it won’t end amateur radio mobile operation. It will suggest to me that as a very large community, we have yet to discover ways of working together instead of working in ways that make us less effective. Right now I am highly encouraged by the way that Ontario hams are rallying together for the benefit of the entire community.

On a personal note: I’m active on the HF, VHF and UHF bands. I think Bill 118 is wonderful! I think any inclusion of two-way radio use would be a travesty. I’m not prepared to let it happen if I can help it.  I’m working within the Radio Amateurs of Canada organization because I can multiple the effectiveness of my single voice by a factor of 50,000. As far as I’m concerned RAC is QRO compared to my QRP signal. Individuals are usually  ineffective at creating change of this magnitude. Organizations, associations and groups can create change.

That’s why people join organizations like RAC. That’s why I joined and that’s why I’m inviting you to renew your membership and bring two other hams with you. We need each other right now and we will need each other in the future.

Look: I didn’t join RAC because it has a great magazine! (It does. TCA is excellent IMHO.) I didn’t join because I like the executive. (Heck I haven’t met most of them.) I didn’t join because I had an extra $50 kicking around. No I joined so I could lend my voice and my energy to contribute to the amateur radio hobby I love so much. My father was a ham (VE3FWR and later VE3HG) and he and I enjoyed our hobby together. If he were with us today, he’d be a RAC member. Now my wife, Marion, (VE3HEN – don’t ask) is a ham and she’s a RAC member.

Here’s the link to the RAC membership page: https://www.rac.ca/store/membership-form-e.htm . Join today.

Manitoba’s Bill 5 Alert

This notice from Radio Amateurs of Canada’s MidWest Regional Director Derek Hay, VE4HAY:

Manitoba’s Bill 5 – 2009 – THE HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT (PROMOTING SAFER AND HEALTHIER CONDITIONS IN MOTOR VEHICLES)

On Wednesday June 3rd, 2009, three Amateur Radio Operators (VE4HAY, VE4MBQ, VE4BAW) made separate presentations to committee at the Manitoba Legislature, asking for exemption on the above bill.  Our main concern is the use of the word "telephone" in the bill.  It seems that no matter which dictionary we use to look up the definition of the word, it all comes back to including a two-way radio.

Our focus was on the possible loss of Amateur Radio as a backup communications system to Provincial and Municipal departments and other served agencies, as well as the loss to public service events (i.e. MB Marathon, etc…).  Our focused was on – if we as Amateur Radio Operators can not use our equipment, in our vehicles while mobile in day-to-day use, then we will not have the two-way radios installed in our vehicles. Thus, we will not make the $200 – $1500.00 investment in these radios and thus, when the need arises; we will not be able to provide the back-up communications service requested.

The use of examples taken from this year’s 2009 Spring flood, showed valid reasons why, as back-up communicators, we needed to be able to operate our two-way radios, while driving, as compared to pulling to the side of the road and making the transmission.

We stressed the point that it is with routine day-to-day communication and use of the radios while driving that provides the training needed to safely operate a two-way radio while at the same time maintaining a safe operation of the motor vehicle.  This repetitive day to day training in a non-stress environment, will translate into a safe operation during a stress filled emergency environment.

Our presentations while separate from each other all had this same basic over lying theme to them.  At question time, we were each asked if we felt that the exemption needed to be in the bill itself or in the regulations that will follow the bill.  We all felt that the exemption should be in the bill if at all possible but, if need be, in the regulations.  One Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) asked if we were exempted in the bill, how we would prevent someone (a HAM) from using a cellphone and test messaging while riding a bicycle.  This was an area we never even thought about going.  But the MLA did have a point.  To exempt us in the bill would then allow us to use our cell phones on MB roadways.

Our next course of action is to be allowed to make a presentation at the regulation phase, after the bill passes third reading which, is scheduled to happen before June 14th (next week).

Bill 118 – Calling all Ontario Amateurs

Thanks to all who emailed me (ve3hg@rac.ca) directly or sent comments to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation in regards to the anti-cell-phone legislation Bill 118.

If you are concerned about your ability to operate your mobile radio equipment in your moving vehicle while driving in the province of Ontario, continue to alert all of your fellow amateur radio operators and encourage them to provide direct comments to the Ministry.

Here again is the Ministry comment address: http://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/quickSearch.do?searchType=current

Comments left on this blog, while appreciated and read, should also be sent to the above Ministry address.

Some hams have asked what is the level of threat that Ontario amateurs face right now? To use the old movie “War Games” as the example: We are at DEFCON 2. (We can go as high as DEFCON 4.)

It is not yet time to ring Queen’s Park with mobile units but it is the time to express in calm, reasoned and no uncertain language why amateur radio use in moving vehicles is of uncountable benefit to the people and the communities in which the live in the province of Ontario.

Let your voice be heard before the deadline of June 17. Encourage your amateur friends in your community, your club and your association to communicate with the Ministry of Transportation.

Personal letters addressed to the Minister would not be out of the question. May I suggest you use exactly the same language you would use in writing to your favourite aunt or uncle :)

Contact your local member of the provincial legislature and ask them to personally support you and your fellow 20,000 federally licensed amateur radio operators to continue to use their amateur radio equipment in their vehicles while driving on Ontario’s roadways.

RAC recommends action on Bill 118

After consultation with other affected groups and following discussions with Ontario Ministry of Transportation staff Radio Amateurs of Canada is recommending that all interested amateur radio operators offer their comments to the possible impact that Bill 118 (the anti-cell-phone-while-driving Bill) could have on amateur radio use in moving vehicles.

The web address to read the Bill as it stands today is http://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/quickSearch.do?searchType=current

At the bottom of that page is a link to a comments page.

We would like to remind the Ministry that the 20,000 licensed amateur radio operators who use their federally licensed mobile radio equipment were never part of the problem.

We’d also like to remind the Ministry that curtailing the use of mobile two-way radio transceivers by amateur radio operators and other two-way radio mobile users will in no way solve the problem of distracted drivers using their cell phones.

We would encourage all amateurs to offer the Ministry their clear and concise comments about how they have served their local communities, regions and the province through their use of amateur radio.

Supporting documents already sent to the Minister of Transport are available upon request to ve3hg@rac.ca (I will respond to e-mails sent over the weekend on Monday, June 8th).

We would ask that you alert your fellow amateur radio operators in your clubs, associations and communities to this issue and urge them to take immediate action by sending their comments to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

HMCS Haida on the air again

This from Kevin, VE3RCN…

Saturday 6th of June will be the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of fortress Europe. HMCS Haida played a part in that. Haida has been radio silent for many years now. I have secured permission to operate her original equipment from 1000 – 1700 EST on Saturday. This coincides with Museum Ships on the Air weekend (just Google it…I believe USS New Jersey is the OPI).

Call sign will be VE3RCN (Royal Canadian Navy).

Frequencies…

While operation on any amateur frequency is allowed, most ships will be operating in the General portion of the bands

SSB CW

3,860 KHz 3,539 KHz

7,260 KHz 7,039 KHz

10,109 KHz

14,260 KHz 14,039 KHz

18,160 KHz 18,079 KHz

21,360 KHz 21,039 KHz

24,960 KHz 24,899 KHz

28,360 KHz 28,039 KHz

50,160 KHz 50,109 KHz

EVENT PSK 31 OPERATIONS

14.070 MHz 10.142 MHz 18.100 MHz 21.070 MHz 28.120 MHz

There are at least 83 confirmed ships that will be on the air.

Bill 118 takes the next step

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has released its public consultation process with the announcement of a website to add comments in regards to Bill 118.

As the background document does not specifically make reference to two-way radio communications RAC will be making inquiries as to what is the government’s intent.

Does this mean that all two-way radios are exempt as they don’t meet the criteria of “hand-held wireless communication devices” or does it mean that two-way radios could fall within the proposed legislation?

If the explanation comes that two-way radios are not included then we can all continue to enjoy our hobby and participate in helping our communities through services including ARES, CANWARN and others.

If the explanation goes the other way….RAC, in cooperation with other interested parties will be creating and encouraging a coordinate, forceful and compelling campaign in support of the lawful use of amateur radio equipment in moving vehicles in the province of Ontario.

We should know more in a few days time.