Seems some hams have just woken up to the ramifications of Bill 118 (Ontario’s distracted driving legislation) and the fact that in three-years time all mobile operators of two-way radios will have to find a way to use their equipment in a hands-free mode. RAC along with representatives from other affected groups including the Toronto FM Society, Ontario Road Rally Sport Association and several hard-working individuals have been making formal and informal presentations to Ontario government staffers and politicians for almost a year now. We have attended numerous meetings, sent tons of emails, placed and answered scores of telephone calls. There’s a lot of hard work and time been given to Bill 118 by these groups and individuals and we should be acknowledging their efforts.
So welcome to these new voices and I’d (VE3HG) like to offer some response to all the comments and emails.
For example (and I’m responding to what I’ve read leaving out names to protect the guilty):
- Bill 118 does not limit anyone from operating a two-way radio while driving a vehicle in the province of Ontario
- This isn’t the end of ham radio as we know it
- RAC never was in negotiations with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. It’s silly to think so. We were one of a several dozen stakeholders who the government invited to comment on Bill 118 which we did with vigour and frequency but remember, we were the least financially significant group in the room (Remember $ talk) by a long shot
- IMHO a legal challenge to Bill 118 isn’t going to happen unless somebody’s got an extra $50K to $100K
- Even then, the province has the right to pass highway safety legislation (like seat belts) and Bill 118 is it
- IC has so little interest in amateur radio that they don’t even track licenses let alone call a provincial government to defend its use
- Someone (not me) should form a committee of concerned Ontario hams and create an action plan*
- Finally, some emails have suggested that RAC could have done a better job. For that I personally apologize and I pledge to do a better job with your help in the future.
Peter – VE3HG
* As a former vice-president of a national public relations company which launched these sort of lobbying campaigns all the time, here’s where I’d start:
The 10-Point Plan:
- Research and create a document showing where similar legislation stands in all other provinces and states. The intent here is to create a position statement that clearly shows why amateur radio should be granted an exemption from Bill 118. If we can’t do this, then nothing else matters;
- Continue to liaise with the ARRL and other ham radio groups like ARES and CANWARN to share materials and info;
- Identify and contact all other organizations that have used amateur radio and solicit written letters of support for the continuing use of amateur radio signed by the head of these groups, associations and organizations;
- Create a lobbying plan of action and activate by contacting all MPPs in person. Email isn’t good enough;
- Maintain and continue contact with Ministry of Transport staffers with intent to show them scientific info designed to change their minds;
- Identify and work with other affected commercial stakeholders to find common ground and purpose in this effort;
- Talk to the current government and the loyal opposition and prepare them both (so whichever is in power in three years) to grant a permanent exemption to all users of two-way radios (my reasoning being that at the end of three years the politicians can say they’ve saved X number of lives and BTW those two-way radio folks aren’t part of the problem so they’re exempt.);
- Continue to publicize the community-service work being done by hams around the world, in Canada and across Ontario so that “hobby communications” isn’t deemed frivolous and banned outright;
- Continue to do daily or weekly updates to the RAC Blog like this one to keep everyone in the conversation loop;
- Don’t say anything in public or via email that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read or hear