Douglas P. Welbanks: An open letter to Attorney General David Eby regarding ICBC

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      (Douglas P. Welbanks wrote the following open letter to Attorney General David Eby regarding financial problems at ICBC.)

      February 12, 2018

      David Eby
      Attorney General of BC

      Dear Minister Eby,

      Re: ICBC Financial Crisis

      Thank you for taking steps to transform ICBC back into a public institution working for and on behalf of people rather than as an adversarial roadblock that forces claimants into expensive and time-consuming litigation to resolve their insurance claims. People should not have to hire a lawyer to receive a fair and equitable settlement.

      I would like to draw your attention to the role that culture plays in today’s world of reckless and aggressive behaviour. Unfortunately, basic courtesy and manners have been deteriorating over the last several years in schools, in families and more noticeably, on the roads. A growing lack of respect for authority, for the police, and for laws designed for public protection such as helmets for teenagers who tend to ride their bikes without them, leads to clashes between automobiles, trucks, fast luxury cars, pedestrians, bicycles, and motorcycles, driven by big egos, frustration and anger.

      Road rage is the final frontier for a society on steroids (metaphorically) and in a big hurry to beat the car in front of them—for whatever reason—to get to work, to get home, to pick up the kids from the day care centre, to drive children to their sports events, to get into the turning lane, to beat the red light, and to get to their destination as fast as they can.

      I recall an advertisement in Ontario during my adolescence in the 1960s by the government that announced, “In every car accident, someone is right—dead right.”

      This profoundly affected my thinking about driving carefully and remembering that who is right or wrong on the roads is only one part of the driving experience. To be courteous and careful were equally as important. Driving defensively and slowing down were tools to improve your chances of getting to your destination without an ambulance.

      Distracted driving, on smartphones or other devices, falls into the category of reckless and disrespectful conduct because people put themselves, their passengers, and innocent bystanders in unnecessary danger. Perhaps taking the cars away from distracted offenders may catch their attention rather than just increased premiums, fines and warnings.

      Governments could take more leadership in the area of telecommuting for employees to reduce the number of cars on the roads. Much of the tension and angst are fueled by long frustrating commutes and the pressures to raise active and busy families.

      Respect for authority and being courteous to others however, begins at home with parents and should be reinforced in schools by teachers. In a highly competitive society more emphasis could be placed on playing fairly, making friends, learning about teamwork, and enjoying the game as well as about winning. Small things like saying thank you when someone opens a door for you, or you open the door for someone else build a courteous environment that respects others.

      Much more emphasis should be placed on courtesy on the roads, stopping for pedestrians, slowing down in school zones, letting the person in front of you into the lane, and so on. People should stop for stop signs even if no other traffic is coming because this shows respect for the law.

      Both positive and punitive measures are needed to reduce the financial crisis at ICBC while potentially making our society safer and more respectful.

      Sincerely

      Douglas P. Welbanks 

      Douglas P. Welbanks is a former director of debtor assistance and debt collection for the B.C. government and the author of several books, including Unbreakable: The Ujjal Dosanjh Story and Julius Seizure: The Secret World of Bankruptcy, Debt Collection and Student Loans.

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