Thursday, May 27, 2010

Van safety bill recalls 8 N.B. deaths

NDP MP will introduce 'Boys in Red' private member's bill

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The mother of one of seven New Brunswick basketball players killed in a van crash in 2008 is in Ottawa to support a bill that would ban the use of 15-passenger vans by schools.

Isabelle Hains's local MP, Yvon Godin, is scheduled to table a private member’s bill Thursday to impose a cross-Canada ban on school use of such vans.

"This is another step in the right direction for student safety," said Hains.

Seven members of the Bathurst High School basketball team and the wife of the coach, who was also a teacher at the school, were killed after their 15-passenger vehicle collided with a truck on a snow-covered highway just outside of their hometown on Jan. 12, 2008.

Within days of the accident, New Brunswick banned the use of the vans by schools.

'I know in my heart that what happened to them that night could have been, and should have been, prevented.'—Isabelle Hains, mother of Daniel Hains

The 15-passenger vans had already been banned in several American states because of safety concerns. They have been known to roll over in crashes.

"I know in my heart that what happened to them that night could have been, and should have been, prevented and the children are saying now, 'Don’t let this happen again,'" said the mother of Daniel Hains.
Bill called wake-up call

A coroner’s inquest made several recommendations, including making winter tires mandatory and banning the vans for student travel across the country.

Godin, NDP MP for Acadie-Bathurst, said his "Boys in Red" bill, referring to the basketball players' uniforms, will be introduced Thursday afternoon in the Commons and he hopes it’s a wake-up call for the federal government.

He’s hoping the minority Conservative government will support the bill quickly. Godin and Hains will lobby other MPs and senators to get the bill passed.

“I’m not asking to intervene in provincial jurisdiction, but the federal [government] is responsible to make sure any vehicle travelling in the country is a safe vehicle and they have that right to legislate,” said Godin.

“They could have this [bill] done by September if they want to,” said Hains. “These are our children. Children that depend on adults to keep them safe.”

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