CBC`s the Fifth Estate recently aired an investigation that demonstrated the consequences of placing cost control over safety, when General Motors began experiencing problems with the ignition switch used on some of their cars. The report also raises concerns about Transport Canada -- their investigators were onto GM after just a couple of reports of high-speed crashes in which the air bags on GM cars did not deploy, but their enforcement service was unable to get the answers they needed from GM, nor to take the cases any further. The APA believes we need to update our vehicle safety legislation to better support the investigators, and more money for investigations would help.
APA Board Member, Clarence Ditlow of the Washington-based Center for Auto Safety, was interviewed extensively for this story, as well there was a French language report that ran the same week. It`s sobering to consider that our national conscience on auto safety in the CBC report was an American! The Center for Auto Safety is the original group founded by Ralph Nader to pressure government and the automakers to improve vehicle safety. The Center also "exported" two former staff to Canada, who founded the APA in 1969!
While car companies now compete to introduce safety and environmental technologies, the need for robust government oversight remains to ensure cost savings don`t win out over lives. APA will shortly be writing the Minister of Transport to recommend upgrades to the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act so that foot dragging becomes less attractive for the automakers who do it routinely (GM was an expert, but other companies do it too). The APA would prefer to see smaller fines applied regularly, rather than the large penalties we currently have in the Act that are never applied.
It`s thanks to support from APA members that we are able to play an important role in representing the consumer interest.