Ontario hams & cell phone legislation

The formal public consultations in regards to Ontario Bill 118 (the anti cell phone in a moving vehicle Bill) takes place in Toronto later this week. Radio Amateurs of Canada will be there as will representatives of several other ham-radio related organizations including The Toronto FM Society and the Canadian Association of Rally Sport which uses amateur radio during their road rallies. The association also fought for and won an earlier exemption protecting their members from prosecution under the Ontario street racing laws.

In addition to the interest by amateur radio operators across the province there are other large commercial lobbyists also advocating for an exemption for their associations.

So what can we expect?

There are several possible outcomes:

  1. Amateur radio use in moving vehicles in Ontario could be granted a complete exemption. An exemption for the use of amateur radio use has been granted in several other jurisdictions;
  2. Mobile amateur radio use could be limited to the use of equipment that has a microphone and loudspeaker. The issue for some legislators in other jurisdictions has been the issue of a communications device being held up to the ear;
  3. This issue could also have legislators insisting that all two-way radio communication be hands free in a moving vehicle. This would necessitate the use of a headset or Bluetooth type interface;
  4. We could face a complete ban on the use of amateur radio equipment in a moving vehicle.

So what should we do now?

First: We should wait the decision of the committee. Bill 118 is not yet in the hands of the politicians and to calling individual MPPs or launching petitions would be counterproductive right now. It may come down to this sort of action but now is definitely not the right time.

Second: We should continue to organize our response to this Bill and other future Bills that may adversely impact our ability to serve our communities and enjoy our use of amateur radio.

Third: We need to encourage our fellow amateurs to join Radio Amateurs of Canada. Governments from the national level down to your local town respond to the needs of their constituents. Individual protests or attempts to influence legislators don’t have nearly the impact that an organized campaign by a recognized national can have.

So if you want to do something to save your ability to operate your amateur radio equipment in a moving vehicle in the province of Ontario get your local club involved by having every member join with you as an active member of Radio Amateurs of Canada.

Here’s the challenge: If every member of Radio Amateurs of Canada encouraged one or two other Canadian hams to join RAC, our collective ability to influence legislation that had the potential to impact our enjoyment of amateur radio and our ability to serve our communities would be multiplied many times over.

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