Wednesday, October 01, 2008

OPP Con Job

I have to commend the Ontario Provincial Police on the PR job they have done with the 'street racing' legislation. They have been able to convince the media, the politicians and ordinary residents that anyone driving 50 km/h over the speed limit is a street racer.

If you recall, the push for the 'street racing' legislation came about due to a couple of high-profile street racing incidents in the Greater Toronto Area that resulted in deaths. OPP Commissioner Fantino (formerly the Police Chief for the City of Toronto) began making the rounds calling for 'tougher' legislation on 'street racers'.

There was minimal evidence that street racing was a big problem (more people die from alcohol-related collisions), but you know how the media likes to make a minor problem into a major issue. Naturally, the politicians jumped on the bandwagon. Given the small number of street racers, this legislation had minimal impact on the general public.

Or so we thought.

The legislation stated if you exceed the speed limit by 50 km/h, you instantly became a 'street racer'. The reason for this threshold was to avoid the issue of requiring police to be subjective when identifying someone as a 'street racer'. With an absolute figure, police were objective. The law was 'clear'. Exceed 50 km/h and you are a street 'racer'.

It didn't matter if you were driving down a nearly empty 400-series highway listening to the Moody Blues. You were 'dangerous'. You were a 'street racer'.

The worst part of the law was the immediate seizure of the vehicle for a week. Yup, despite not being found guilty in a court of law, the legislation requires +that police seize the vehicle. Not even drunk drivers lose their vehicle on their first charge. Yes, in democratic Ontario, you can not be found guilty and have your property seized.

Ever since, the OPP (and other police forces) have been pulling over drivers on 400-series highways (you know, the roads that are designed for high-speed and that are the safest in Ontario) and proclaiming the street racing legislation a success. And the media jumps along for the ride. The headlines read "Racers receive no mercy in court, legal rep says".

What racers? I am not aware of a single real street racer has been ticketed to date.

What do we expect from a Premier who continues to expand the nanny state in Ontario?