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Queen’s Park Report – October 21, 2015

Let me begin by acknowledging the efforts of all the local candidates in the historic 2015 Federal Election.  Over the 78-day campaign Marilyn, Dave, Jason and Peter all exhibited their passion for, and commitment to, our community.  All of the candidates and everyone who worked on their campaigns should be proud of the work they did.  Although political campaigns, at times, can highlight the many differences in opinion  that exist, all participants – whether candidates, volunteers or voters – are united by their common desire for government that will serve the best interests of their community.

Sarnia-Lambton’s voter turnout was a very healthy 72.16%, almost 5 points higher than the national average.  This level of turnout exemplifies what I have seen over and over again as the MPP for Sarnia-Lambton, the residents of Sarnia-Lambton care very deeply about the future of their community.  I look forward to working with MP-elect Marilyn Gladu in her new role in Ottawa. I believe she will be a strong voice for our community in the nation’s capital, and will aptly serve the residents of this community in building a strong and prosperous future.

Road Safety

Any time I can spend addressing driver safety is time well spent as far as I’m concerned.  Last week was National Teen Driver Safety Week, which makes this week’s column as good a time as any to bring up safe driving habits.

Safety on our roads is a shared responsibility by all motorists, but it is important to note that, while young people only make up 13% of licensed drivers, they are involved in approximately one quarter of all road-related injuries and fatalities. The reality is that many of these accidents causing injury or death are preventable; the statistics say 93% of crashes involve human error.

We must all do our part to raise awareness and talk with young drivers about the reasons that the ratio of teen drivers being involved in accidents is so far out of proportion with the rest of the population.  High-risk behaviors like the use of cellphones or handheld devices while driving are known to increase the likelihood of accidents by almost four times.

The Ontario Legislature has stepped up its efforts to curb dangerous driving habits including strengthening distracted driving laws in Ontario.  In Ontario, it’s against the law to operate hand held devices, like a phone, while driving. The penalties for breaking this law can include being charged with careless driving. A careless driving conviction may come with fines of up to $2000 and/or a jail term of six months.

If you are a young driver, or you are the friend, parent or family member of a young driver, a great resource for more information and for starting the discussion on driver safety is the website www.parachutecanada.org .  Let’s all make the effort to increase road safety awareness. First things first, leave the phone alone.