News

Remembering the victims

Capital News

By Paul Hergott

A different kind of Remembrance Day for dead and injured, and the multitude of others impacted, is almost upon us.

The deaths and injuries can be brutal, and more Canadian lives have been taken than in both world wars combined.

The goal is not to prevent another mass slaughter. The carnage is an ongoing and increasing one. Our best hope is to start stemming the tide.

A World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims was initiated by an organization called RoadPeace in 1993.

Initiators conceived of a lofty goal: A day of respect by and toward all road users; a day on which exceptional care is taken by motorists; a day of courtesy at the wheel and a day when all road laws are respected so that a world day without any crashes resulting in injury or death will become a reality.

The World Health Organization added its support in 2003. And in 2005, the United Nations provided international endorsement, encouraging governments around the world to commemorate the day.

Canada stepped up in 2008, designating a National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims.

In Kelowna, a Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims has been proclaimed annually since 2012. The seventh annual commemorative event will be held Wednesday, Nov.21, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Orchard Park mall parking lot, corner of Highway 97 and Dilworth Avenue.

It will be cold and dark, but unless an emergency takes them away, we will have Kelowna firefighters providing the flood light support of Engine No. 1.

And we will do our best to keep you warm with a shelter, propane fire, hot chocolate, coffee and Timbits.

I have been arranging the annual event as part of my One Crash is Too Many road safety campaign. I agree that there is value in taking the time to reflect and remember the horrible personal toll that continues to be taken on our roadways.

If we grasp the magnitude of the ongoing carnage, our minds will inevitably turn to how we might make things better.

Because not one of us is immune. Each and every one of us, and those close to us, are in the line of fire every time we occupy our roadways.

And that is not melodramatic. An average of 960 crashes occurred every single day in British Columbia in 2017. And the numbers are increasing.

The more vulnerable we feel, the more motivated we will become to push our political leadership into action.

Not politically expedient action that makes things worse instead of better, but bold steps to attack the root of our road safety disaster:

  • Inattention.

Crash numbers would plummet if drivers simply paid focused attention on the task at hand. But our political leaders are completely missing the boat on implementing obvious solutions.

And when the road safety epidemic finally became a political issue, with soaring ICBC insurance premiums, the politically expedient answer was to strip away, instead of bolster, driver accountability by reducing the expense of crashes through stripping away the rights of crash victims.

Many of us have been touched, some much harder than others, by a permanent crash injury or the loss of a loved one.

Hideki Mimura is travelling from his home in Japan again this year to attend in memory of his daughter.


About the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society

‘In Their Name’ is the campaign of the ‘BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’ – an organization comprised of families who have lost a loved one to wrongful death in BC and were denied access to justice. In response to the biggest human rights issue facing the province today, our goal is to modernize British Columbia’s antiquated wrongful death legislation, which predates confederation (1846). Under current legislation, the value of a human life is measured only by the deceased’s future lost income, so long as they had dependents.

As a result, access to justice has been denied to the families of the wrongfully killed who do not meet this discriminatory criteria. This has affected especially vulnerable groups, namely children, seniors, the disabled, and anyone without dependents when they are killed by the careless or intentional acts of another.

BC is presently the last of all the provinces, including the Yukon, yet to have undertaken this critical legislative modernization to allow for dignity, value, and protections for all its citizens under the law.

When it’s ‘free’ to kill in BC, wrongdoers are not held accountable. This lack of general deterrence holds the province back in innovation of safety measures and protocols to prevent wrongful deaths in the first place.


Here’s How You Can Get Involved…

The Attorney General of British Columbia, David Eby, is the Minister responsible for the ‘Family Compensation Act’ – the guiding piece of legislation that the civil courts must follow in cases of wrongful death. Minister Eby receives feedback from the regional ‘Members of the Legislative Assembly’ (MLAs) and follows orders from the Premier, John Horgan.

Reform is presently at a standstill, as the BC NDP government does not presently view access to justice for the surviving family members of the wrongfully killed as a priority in this province. This is despite the fact that the families behind our Society have been fighting for modernization for over two decades. And despite the fact that all other provinces, including the Yukon, have already modernized in most cases long ago.

The only way to move this forward is by creating massive public awareness and outcry for legislative modernization. Only under the scrutiny of the media and the public will our politicians be forced to take this necessary, and long overdue action.

How many more people will need to die from the same preventable wrongful actions before our politicians will do their job?

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