A bill you should know about is slowly meandering its way into law in Ontario.
Liberal Parliamentarian Helena Jaczek, who represents a district in suburban Toronto, has proposed a law, called Bill 117, that will prohibit children younger than 14-years-of-age from riding as passengers on motorcycles anywhere in Canada. Jaczek was elected last March and said at the time that she intended to, “help people to solve their problems.”
Who Is This Person
Jaczek, is a physician and a former medical administrator. And, she has frankly admitted that she was searching for new laws to propose when a member of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association suggested a ban on young motorcycle passengers.
Jaczek, had her staff look for facts to support her proposed law and they discovered that between 1995 and 2005 there were 199 reported injuries to motorcycle passenger under the age of 14. A dozen of the injured children were under age five.
Current Canadian law says that passengers must be able to put their feet on the passenger pegs. Presumably, the injured children under five were not tall enough to reach the pegs.
Nevertheless, laws to “protect children” are difficult to defeat and earlier this month Bill 117 passed what Canadians call a “second reading.”
Making Canadian Law
In Canada, after a Bill passes a “second reading” it referred to a parliamentary committee for hearings. If the bill then makes it out of committee, it generally becomes law.
Bill 117 will probably die in committee. But Jaczek has already said that she hopes the “bill can be useful in terms of public education.” A logical conclusion to Jaczek’s public education campaign would be the reintroduction of her bill next year by a Canadian Cabinet Minster. A bill introduced by a ranking politician stands a good chance of passing into law.
At the second reading debate earlier this month, Jaczek said her bill, “is not about questioning the love that those parents who have ridden motorcycles with their children as passengers have for their own precious children….” Which has not been raised as an objection to Bill 117. The notion to which Canadian bikers object is that an ambitious new politician can grab attention for herself by proposing that their government should more carefully micromanage its citizen’s parenting.
Members of the Canadian Parliament each belong to one of five different political parties. Three of the five-the Green’s, the Liberals, and the New Democratic Party-would probably be considered liberal in the United States. And not even all of them are sold on Jaczek’s idea.
New Democratic Party leader Peter Kormos spoke against Bill 117. “The arguments of protecting people against harm can evolve into reductio ad absurdum,” Kormos said. “Yes, a motorcyclist is more vulnerable in the event of an accident, because there is no cage around him or her, than is a person in a car. But I put to you that you in your tiny little cheap Toyota Tercel are far more vulnerable than I am in my Chevy pickup truck in the event of an accident.”
Nevertheless, Bill 117 did pass its second reading and was passed on to the Justice Policy Committee. Stay tuned.