Monday, September 27, 2010

Mothers Head to Halifax Transport Ministers Meeting: Want Victims' Voices to be Heard in 15-Passenger Safety Review

Isabelle Hains and Stella Gurr in Ottawa, May 27, 2010.

(Bathurst, NB - September 27, 2010) - Two mothers who lost their sons in 15-passenger van accidents are on their way to Halifax for the annual meeting of the Council of Ministers of Transportation where the preliminary results of a 15-passenger van safety review will be released on Thursday, September 30, 2010.

Isabelle Hains of Bathurst, New Brunswick and Stella Gurr of Nanaimo, British Columbia will also meet with Chuck Strahl, Federal Minister of Transport to discuss their concerns about the van safety review. Hains says they have one message for Minister Strahl: "15-passenger vans are 'death traps' and they should be banned not only for students, but for all human transportation."

Bathurst High School Phantoms Ford Econoline 350 on the morning of January 12, 2008.Bathurst High School Phantoms Ford Econoline 350 on the morning of January 12, 2008

The two mothers from Canada's east and west coast have teamed up with school bus safety advocate Bryan Murphy of Nanaimo, BC and Delalane Harris Foran, President of the New Brunswick School Bus Drivers Union (CUPE 1253) to raise awareness of the dangers of 15-passenger vans.

In May, the group travelled to Ottawa to witness the introduction of Bill C-522, a Private Members Bill tabled by Member of Parliament Yvon Godin (Acadie-Bathurst) which proposes to ban 15-passenger vans for student transportation across Canada. The following month, then Minister of Transport, John Baird, announced the 15-passenger van safety review would be discussed at the upcoming Council of Ministers meeting in Halifax.

National Press Gallery press conference held in Ottawa, May 27, 2010.

Over the summer the mothers prepared a comprehensive information kit and dossier containing the most up to date industry safety reviews and studies for the Ministers that they intend to distribute at the COM meeting this week.

Hains says she wants the Ministers "to go back to their provinces and territories fully informed with the knowledge that 15-passenger vans were never meant to transport human beings and they should be banned across Canada."

Hains said that since her son was killed in the "Boys in Red" tragedy in 2008 she has come to realize that one of the biggest problems is a lack of awareness among the public and political leaders of the dangers of 15-passenger vans.

"I am a good example," Hains says. "I had no idea that 15-passenger vans were known as 'death traps" among safety advocates. Had I known then what I know today, there is no way I would have let my son Daniel be transported to extra-curricular activities in one of these vehicles."

Left to right, holding the Boys in Red banner that was made for the Press conference are Isabelle Hains, Bathurst, New Brunswick, Bryan Murphy, CUPE Nanaimo, British Columbia, Delalene Harris Foran, CUPE 1253 New Brunswick, and Stella Gurr, Nanaimo, BC.

Stella Gurr's son ichael was on his way home from a cross Canada tour with his Vancouver-based band The Hotel Lobbyists when their van rolled over near Brandon, Manitoba. His tragic death at age 26 lead her to study the international controversy surrounding 15-passenger vans.

Gurr says "it's critical that the Ministers of Transportation know the history of 15-passenger vans and their transformation from cargo to passenger transportation that has lead to so much tragedy for thousands of families including mine."

Hains says the information kit and dossier will give the Ministers a victim's perspective on the 15- passenger van issue. "Victims of 15-passenger van collisions and roll overs don't live to give their opinion on van safety," she said.

"As mothers we feel that it's time our sons' voices were finally heard in the conversation," says Hains, adding, "If we don't, who will?"

The mothers will hold a press conference at 1 pm on Wednesday, September 29, 2010, Halifax (location to be announced).

- 30 -

For further information go to