Unintended consequences of blind ideology

The question is uncomfortable but needs to be considered. Would the Humboldt Broncos’ hockey team tragedy have happened if Alberta had not privatized training and licensing of semi-trailer truck drivers?

Of course, the correct answer is, “we don’t know,” but it could be argued that the collision may have had a much lower probability of occurring had the truck driver been better trained.

In the rush to downsize governments in the 1990s, vehicle registration, driver’s licenses and examinations were turned over to 200 privately owned and operated registries.

From the beginning, abuse was rampant. Numerous registries have been caught accepting bribes in exchange for fake licenses and false certifications.

In fact, Service Alberta has had to notify other provinces about more than 600 drivers with fraudulent licenses, most of which were Class 1 semi-truck drivers, who were not trained or even tested.

Stories told by seasoned truckers also add anecdotal evidence that there are a lot of operators with Class 1 licenses that shouldn’t be on our highways.

In October the Honourable Brian Mason, Minister of Transportation, announced that Alberta will mandate training for new commercial drivers and strengthen safety requirements for commercial carriers.

Effective March 1, 2019, any person who wants to obtain a Class 1 (truck driver) or Class 2 (school bus) driver’s license must take the Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) program.

There will be 100 hours of training consisting of in-classroom, in-vehicle (in-yard where the vehicle is not moving) and on-road training. The MELT program will be a standardized curriculum delivered by qualified government employees.

Alberta police departments were totally opposed to the privatization of vehicle registration, driver’s licenses and examinations, land title, corporate registry and vital statistics services when changed in the 1990’s.

They knew that the private sector couldn’t possibly sustain the same level of integrity and security of personal data as could a government.

They also knew privatizing these types of services was a gift from heaven for individuals with criminal intent.

Therein lies the problem when political parties make their decisions based on ideology, in this case, that the private sector is always more efficient and effective than government even when it involves sensitive personal data and ID issuance.

Unfortunately, that appears to be the number one fear that many urban, conservative-leaning Albertans have about Jason Kenney’s leadership of the United Conservative Party—his words often suggest he doesn’t have the ability to separate good governance

from ideology.

 

B. Schimke

ECA Review

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