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).

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