"We can't afford not to do it, given the extent of dangerous
speeding on our roads," he said.
The plane is among a flurry
of announcements Mr. McGuinty has made in recent days as he
prepares for the Oct. 10 provincial election.
Peter Kormos, New Democratic member of the legislature, said
the Premier was giving in to pressure from Commissioner Fantino,
who has said that speed was involved in one quarter of traffic
fatalities. He unsuccessfully lobbied for a helicopter when he
was Toronto police chief.
"Fantino wanted a plane. Dalton McGuinty got him one," Mr.
Kormos said. "It's the eye in the sky. The plane is photo radar
Mr. Kormos questioned how effectively police could monitor
the province's highways with just one aircraft. "One plane is
going to be hard pressed to deal with thousands of kilometres of
heavily travelled highway, so let's not try to pretend that this
is any sort of panacea," he said.
Commissioner Fantino said the OPP will use the plane mainly
in provincial "hot spots." He said the focus will be on
dangerous drivers but not exclusively "high milers."
New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton has called for the
reintroduction of photo radar. Former NDP premier Bob Rae
launched a photo-radar system in the province in 1994. More than
240,000 tickets were handed out, with fines totalling more than
$16-million. But the venture was scrapped the next year by the
Progressive Conservatives under Mike Harris, who said it did
little to reduce speeding. The McGuinty government abandoned the
idea of reintroducing the program in 2004.
Advocates, including the Canada Safety Council, argue that
photo radar helps prevent crashes and injuries. But critics
question its effectiveness because drivers are not pulled over,
and there are no demerit points, so insurance rates are
unaffected. Most photo-radar systems employ a speed gun that
trips a camera when an object moves past it at above a set
speed. Tickets are issued to the car's owner, not the driver at
the time of the alleged speeding.