Abuse of power

Abuse of power
Posted on August 27, 2013 | Ray Gompf | Written on August 27, 2013
Letter type:

This week – 26th to 30th of August, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario – the Ontario Ministry of Transport is hauling local commercial vehicles into a baseball stadium, not for an inspection which arguably can be justified on the basis of safety but to have a survey completed to help the Ministry decide on truck routes in the future.

Whoa, back the truck up. This is more than an abuse of power. First, the Ministry sets the rules for hours of service. These hours of service are tightly controlled so that drivers are “not tired”. Then there are, in the city restrictions, on when commercial vehicles can operate and where. These issues severely restrict the ability of the driver to earn a living, but now they go and take another hour out of his or her day just to have a survey completed.

The government proudly announced that the survey only takes five minutes to complete but that’s not true at all. The trucks are stopped on the main road or street then directed to go to the ball stadium, so now there’s travel time from the place the truck was stopped to the ball stadium – no compensation for this additional time. No alterations in the number of hours left available. So let’s for argument sake say that from the initial stop to the ball stadium is fifteen minutes. Then get into the ballpark another five or eight minutes to park where they tell you to park. Then the conversation with the officer about the survey, then fill out the survey, then report back to the officer, then make ones way out of the ballpark and back to the point of the original stop. Five minutes? I don’t think so. More like an hour at best.

An hour, that’s a dead non-productive hour taken out of his already limited number of hours available for that day, that week and that working cycle. But it only took five minutes.

There are much better ways of conducting this survey. First the government has the database of all the commercial drivers in the city, in fact in the province. Not only that, they know exactly where each of these drivers live and for the most part they know exactly when that driver is most likely to be at home. Talk about big brother. They even know the drivers telephone number and in many cases their cell phone number. Come on, give me a break. They have a need to take an hour out of a driver’s earning day to waste time, fuel and money and create next week’s cheque being smaller?

Supposed the truckers decided that they’d pay politicians based on performance as truckers are paid. How many politicians could accept a pay for performance criteria? I’ll tell you, none, yet they steal an hour of a truck driver’s performance time for a useless photo op scenario. Stop this insanity.

If you went and took an hour of a lawyer’s time, you’d have a significant invoice. Yet, truckers who only have time to sell are constantly interrupted from making their living by those who think the trucker is so unimportant that they’re not worth even a thought let alone an hour’s worth of time.

It costs more than $100 an hour to run a large commercial vehicle at today’s current costs. Fuel costs alone are the second largest cost, immediately after the cost of buying the truck in the first place. Then insurance is the third largest cost. At idle, these big trucks will burn 20 litres of fuel in an hour and when they’re moving, the consumption is well more than at idle. An hour’s worth of fuel alone cost $30. An hour;s worth of insurance costs alone, possibly as much as $15. The wages for the driver are around the $20 or $25 mark. So, this five minute survey isn’t free. It isn’t just a quick question or two by an officer. This is serious money, serious inconvenience, serious infringement on the right to earn a consistent living.

Find a better way to conduct surveys without all this inconvenience. Sure, the civil servants conducting the survey aren’t the slightest inconvenienced, they continue to earn their money. This whole thing has been ill thought and this kind of abuse of power must stop, forever.

About The Author

Ray Gompf's picture

Ray Gompf was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1943 into a family that has been in Canada since the 1780’s. Ray was educated in Dunnville and Hamilton, Ontario. He entered the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps in 1961... More


Process oriented decisions like how to best administer this survey are made by bureaucrats in order to make their lives easier from an administration perspective. Its the same type of thing that drives me nuts at City Hall.

The problem is that it only serves their interests and no one else's, as you have rightly pointed out.

Because this is a fairly formal survey, a personal letter with directions to fill out an online survey would have been a much better way to do it because the truckers could then do it on their own, on their own time. For those who don't follow through, pulling them over might be a last resort option to ensure everyone completes the survey. But, not right out of the gate.

Thank you for sharing your letter.