Like a lot of people who heard the news last Tuesday that the New Brunswick Departments of Education and Transportation had decided to change the winter tire policy on 21 passenger MFAVs, we have a sneaking suspicion it was more than coincidence that the announcement just happened to take place fifteen minutes after we arrived at our hotel in Michigan!
We've had some very interesting results with previous Right to Information requests, showing the duplicity and underhanded actions of our politicians and bureaucrats who think they are so smart, who claim to be working for us, the lowly citizens who dare to ask them questions they do not want to answer.
So here we go again. We have reason to believe that Denis Landry, the NB Minister of Transportation, (that's him at the top left) knew well in advance of our departure for Michigan on Monday, February 22, that Transport Canada had conducted tests on 21 passenger MFAVs the week before, that he knew the results of the tests pointed to winter tires being safest on these vehicles, and they he chose to hold off on the announcement for nearly a week so that we would be safely out of the country.
We have the same suspicions about Roland Hache, the NB Minister of Education, (that's him to the right) so we've written the exact same letter to him, with the same request under the Right to Information Act. Mr. Hache denied knowing anything about the tests when we spoke to him on Tuesday afternoon from Michigan. We sincerely hope he was not stretching the truth, or as Winston Churchill once said, "I wasn't lying it was a terminological inexactitude."
We hope that we are wrong: we'd hate to think that politicians would play such dangerous games with childrens' lives by allowing those 21 passenger MFAVs to be used with unsafe tires for another five or six days just so they could score some political points against us.
Here's the letter to Hon. Denis Landry, NB Minister of Transportation. We sent the same one to Hon. Roland Hache, Minister of Education.
______ Letter to Hon. Denis Landry ________
March 3, 2010
Minister Denis Landry
Constituency Office: Centre-Peninsule-Saint-Sauveur
1344-3 des Fondateurs Street
Paquetville, New Brunswick
(Original sent to Minister Landry under separate cover)
Hon. Denis Landry:
Re: Request under Right To Information Act
We are writing this request for information under the Right to Information Act. Enclosed you will find $5 fee to cover the costs of this request.
We would like copies of any recent correspondence (since January 8th , 2010 to March 3, 2010) between the New Brunswick Department of Transportation, the New Brunswick Department of Education and Transport Canada regarding the testing and use of winter tires on the 21 passenger Multi-Function Activity Vehicles (MFAVs) in the provincial fleet.
Specifically, we are interested in correspondence related to Transport Canada’s recent tests of winter tires on 21 passenger MFAVs and whether the NB Departments of Transportation and Education were aware of the planned testing before the winter tire announcement of February 23, 2010.
We have reason to believe that the Departments of Education and Transportation were fully involved in the tests and knew full well of the location and date of the tests, that the Departments of Education and Transportation withheld the information completed by Transport Canada that showed all winter tires for the MFAV during the winter months are the safest option. The results confirm Transport Canada’s long-standing position that the use of winter tires on all wheels improves vehicle stability, steer ability and braking in winter conditions. We, Isabelle, Marcella, and Ana were contacted by the media in Michigan about the press release by NB Transportation/Education, one day before we began our independent tests at Continental Tires on February 24.
We are therefore requesting all the correspondence related to such testing from both provincial government departments. We want to know:
1. Where did Transport Canada undertake the scientific testing of winter tires on 21 passenger MFAVs at the request of the province of New Brunswick?
2. When did Transport Canada undertake the scientific testing of winter tires on 21 passenger MFAVs at the request of the province of New Brunswick?
3. How long did the Departments of Transportation and Education have the verbal and written results of Transport Canada's scientific testing of winter tires on 21 passenger MFAVs before the province announced it was changing its winter tire policy for these vehicles on February 23, 2010?
4. Did the Departments of Education and / or Transportation deliberately ask Transport Canada to hurry the tests so the results would be available before we began our independent tests at Continental Tires in Michigan on February 24, 2010.
5. Was there a deliberate attempt by the Departments of Transportation and Education to withhold the results of Transport Canada's scientific testing until we left to go to Michigan for our own independent test, the results which were to be released on Wednesday February 24, 2010.
6. We want a copy of the Transport Canada winter tire test report on the 21 passengers Multifunction Activity Vehicle.
We have an incredible amount of patience and we can wait or you can offer this information quickly but we suggest that it is in your interest to answer our questions as soon as possible as we intend to raise this issue with the Opposition.
Thank you for your attention to this request.
cc. Hon. Premier Shawn Graham
cc. Hon. Roland Hache
cc. Hon. John Foran
cc. NDP Roger Duguay