Friday, January 15, 2010

Province Flip Flops on Tire Testing: We Want To Know When Are They Going to Take MFAVs off the Road?

So the Minister of Education Roland Hache (that's him on the right) and the Minister of Transportation Denis Landry (middle, next to Rick Miles, Minister of Environment at left), seem to have had an epiphene of sorts and, having "seen the light" have changed their minds about testing the tires of the 21 passenger Multi Function Activity Vehicles that Education uses to transport children to extra curricular events.

Hallejluhia, is all we can say.

(Click here to read their announcement on the Government of New Brunswick website. It was awful nice of the Ministers of Education and Transportation to let the media tell us about it instead of phoning us up and telling us themselves.)

Only a few short weeks ago, the Minister of Transportation refused to undertake tests of the MFAVs and forced us to into the position of having to find a vehicle to rent ourselves.

(Click here to read the December 29, 2009n letter from Denis Landry, Minister of Transportation, telling us that that Province of NB will not test the MFAVS).

Problem is, announcing that "Transport Canada" is "considering" a tire test on these vehicles is not like saying the "province of New Brunswick" is actually taking any responsibility for conducting the tests itself. They've handed the responsibility over to the big boys, the Federal Government, who actually know what they're doing.

We think that the Departments of Education and Transportation received the equivalent of a "rap on the knuckles" from Transport Canada which we believe recommended that the province of New Brunswick has no choice but to test the tires on these MFAVs, but the Ministers of Education and Transporation won't tell us so we had to make a Right To Information request yesterday.

(Click here to read our most recent Request for Information under the Right To Information Act. Number four and counting....)

What's the big secret anyways? If what we believe is true about Transport Canada, it hasn't changed its mind since November 3, 2009, when it told the Minister of Education that these 21 passenger MFAVs need winter tires all around.

(Click here to read the letter from Nigel Mortimer, Head of Recalls, Road Safety, Transport Canada, in which he tells John McLaughlin, District 15 Superintendent, that winter tires are best on 21 passenger MFAVs. This letter was cc'd to the Minister of Education).

And excuse us for being sticklers for details, but it would be nice to know where and when the proposed tests are being conducted because if it's not this winter season, then the announcement is just a bunch of hot air designed to deflect pressure from the politicians. "Don't worry, be happy" must be a song they play a lot in the provincial government offices.

The fact is that the Department of Education still continues to use its fleet of 21 passenger vehicles to transport children to extra curricular basketball and hockey games. The Education Department has about twenty of these vehicles and god knows how many of them are on the road tonight, filled with innocent children, with tire fitments that are "questionable" to say the least.

We've been trying to get those off the road since the day we found out they were fitted with mixed tires on October 20, 2009 but it's like hitting your head against a brick wall talking to these people in the Department of Education and Transportation. They do not listen to common sense.

"It's policy," they say. Sound familiar?

That's what we heard at the Coroners Inquest.