Facebook Protest Convinces Premier to Drop Restrictive Changes to Young Drivers in Ontario

Update: See November 20/08 Post “New Rules for Young Drivers in Ontario”

On November 17, 2008, the Liberal Government, under the leadership of Premier Dalton McGuinty, proposed changes to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, that would restrict young driver’s with their G2 licences, from driving with other young people, 19 years of age or younger. As a result, the young people protested. Their protest wasn’t out on the street, in fact, most were sitting indoors, with their computers, networking over a social network called “Facebook”.

Those affected by the restrictive legislative changes being proposed took action and started a protest on Facebook. At first Premier McGuinty dismissed this activity. But it began to grow. More and more members signed up with Facebook and joined the thousands in the online protest. Premier McGuinty attempted to stifle this growing protest by banning access to Facebook from all Ontario Government computers. This didn’t stop the momentum in the protest and it continued to grow. Many teenagers were concerned that it could completely end any car pooling they had access to (for school, for work, etc.) and make it impossible to be the designated drivers for their friends.

In the Queen’s Park legislature on Monday, December 8, 2008 the Liberal Government, faced with over 150,000 members protesting on Facebook, announced that it would no longer include the restrictions on G2 licenced drivers, with respect to the proposed passenger restrictions. When Transportation Minister Jim Bradley announced the withdrawal of the offensive, restrictive language, he added that those living in Northern Ontario and rural areas don’t have a lot of public transportation and there are considerable distances to travel in some of these areas.

This is the proposed legislation that is being withdrawn (the current G2 language and the proposed G2 language):

G2 Requirements Current Proposed
G2 Length Minimum of 12 months Minimum of 18 Months
G2 Passengers Teen G2 Drivers can carry Prohibit Teen G2 Drivers
  passengers from midnight from carrying more than
  to 5:00 a.m. as follows: one passenger aged 19
    and under all day during
  First Six months: G2 the first year of G2.
  drivers 19 or older can  
  carry only one passenger There would be
  aged 19 or under. exemptions for family
    members or an
  There are exemptions for accompanying driver who
  family members or an meets the requirements
  accompanying driver who of an accompanying
  meets the requirements of driver in G1.
  an accompanying driver  
  in G1  

Whoever said that “internet democracy” wasn’t effective and didn’t work?!

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