Charter protection needed for rural Canadians

Charter protection needed for rural Canadians

Writer on ICBC “relief” for rural rates, and says lack of protection means subsidizing urban voters.

Editor,

I was shocked to read ICBC spokesperson Joanna Linsagan’s statement on the ongoing campaign to get ICBC to release data on insurance rates in rural B.C. It seems that ICBC expects rural British Columbians to be happy that they will continue to be overcharged for their vehicle insurance for at least 10 more years.

Are they hoping that rural British Columbians are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, feeling gratitude towards our insurance monopoly ‘captors?’ Ms. Linsagan even talks about the 3.5 per cent territorial rate decrease coming later in the year, calling it ‘relief’ while neglecting to note that overall rates are at least 30 per cent too high, and are about to go up another 6.3 per cent!

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms offers Canadians protection from discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability, but not based on where you live in Canada. ICBC and many decades of B.C. governments have taken advantage of this oversight, actively milking rural British Columbians to subsidize the insurance of urban drivers or fatten ICBC’s profit margin. Now we are simply asking for the data, and they are stalling. Any ‘mom-and-pop’ business in Canada could provide year-end tallies of their income and expenses at the press of a button. ICBC, a multi-billion-dollar corporation paying millions in executive salaries, needs months if not years to do the same? Doesn’t that smell a bit fishy?

Where are our rural MLAs in all this? Conspicuously silent. Rather than standing up for their constituents, who appear to be paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year to support their urban neighbours’ driving habits, they choose party loyalty favouring urban votes.

It’s time to add a line to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, offering some protection for rural British Columbians.

Darcy Repen

Telkwa