RAC speaks to MOT

Today was the second of two stakeholders’ meetings held by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation in regards to Bill 118 which will ban the use of handheld cell phones while driving in the fall of 2009.

Of course the great concern to the amateur radio community is that we could get swept up in the legislative process. Thankfully at today’s meeting all Ontario amateurs were ably represented by myself, VE3HG, in my position of vice-president of public relations for Radio Amateurs of Canada; Alasdair Robertson, VE3RAA, the executive director of the Canadian Association of Rally Sport; and Neil Macklem, VE3SST, a member of the board of directors for the Toronto FM Communications Society. Both Alasdair and Neil are to be commended on their passionate and persuasive arguments in support of amateur radio. They have done us proud and I could not have been in better company.

So where do we stand?

First, the representation from the amateur radio community was the sole delegation, compared to the many high-powered commercial delegations, which actually understood the technical nature of the issues facing the ministry. And, as such, for some weeks now RAC has been supplying the ministry staff with background information which they used today to explain the overriding technical issues at today’s meeting. We were very pleased to have been able to offered such assistance.

The commercial interests, of which there were many, all came well equipped to argue their economic and safety cases and all made the point that they should be exempt based at least on the economic impact such legislation could have on their industries.

We in the amateur radio community offered forceful comments that the use of two-way mobile radios in any form was a distinctly different form of communications when compared to cellular telephones in both aspects of content of the conversation and in the actual use of the equipment.

We also offered clear and compelling arguments concerning the use of amateur radio during times of community and national need. We spoke of the historic manner in which amateur radio operators in Ontario, across Canada and around the world are prepared to volunteer their time and equipment. We made mention of how we work together through ARES and CANWARN and other organizations. And, how all this and more would be put into jeopardy by Bill 118.

The next step in the process

The ministry staff will be creating specific exemptions (if any). We should have some idea of where we stand in the next 30 to 60 days.

Until then, the best counsel I can offer is to sit tight and let’s let the staff produce a document that will serve the people of Ontario while respecting our rights to operate mobile two-way radios in our motor vehicles.

If more needs to be done, we will call upon the greater amateur radio community at that time. In the meantime, it would help our position immensely and would strengthen my hand at the bargaining table if more hams in Ontario became members of Radio Amateurs of Canada.

Nothing speaks so strongly as one representative who can stand up and state: “I speak on behalf of Canada’s 50,000 federally licensed amateur radio operators.”

We need this kind of strength in numbers and we need it now. And, I’ll admit RAC may not be perfect but we’d be a heck of better association if you and your fellow amateurs were members.

Sign up here:



4 Responses to “RAC speaks to MOT”

  • Sir,

    I would like to add my support to Radio Amateurs who are concerned that this bill will prevent us from supplying communications to an emergency situation where the public communications media have become impossible to use. The ability to drive to specified locations in our vehicles equiped with mobile radios and issue reports of our findings to the civil authorities could be a life saving opportunity for individuals involved and injured in the emergency. I urge the government to carefully consider the information provided by RAC and others to make an exemption for amateur radio in this case. It is important to radio amateurs to be of the solution and nor part of the problem in emergency situations.

    I remain respectfully yours,
    Jeffrey C. Paice, VE3JCP

  • I’d love to support RAC, but this is my first year in the hobby, and $50 may not sound like alot to many, but it is to some of us. Given that blind persons are allowed to join for $20 and not receive the magazine, I would suggest that maybe RAC offer an associate membership at $20 or $25 a year. That I might be ab;e to do. I wonder how many non RAC hams might join if this option were available

  • I am getting extemely upset. I have already written two comments only to have them go into the internet wilderness…The work “mail” above does not say “email”. So maybe, you could change it for anyone else like me who took it literally.If this one does not say error, I will again write a commet about Bill 118.

  • To whom it may concern,
    I am a 64 year old woman who is also an amateur radio operator. I wish to express my concern regarding Bill 118. As you know, amateur radio operators assist with numerous public service events and often are the first to report inclimate weather or impending disasters. An amateur radio operator has to study for, write and pass an exam before receiving a radio licence. Also, radio amateurs use a certain protocol when using their radios to show professionalism. Anyone can walk into a store, buy a cell phone, get into a car, start talking, and get distracted by the phone thus causing an accident. I’m sorry but I do not know the statistics for the number of amateur radio operators causing an accident while talking on the radio but I’m sure the percentage would be much lower than for cell phone users. I have been an amateur since 1986 and do not recall hearing about any legislation to stop us from operating from our vehicles. I ask that those voting on Bill 118 exclude amateur radio operators . Thank you for allowing me this comment. Yours truly, Pat Pugh VA3PP

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