June 1, 2014 Updated: June 1, 2014 | 11:06 pm
When it comes to politics, there’s no better prop than children. More than business owners, seniors or activists, kids are solid gold.
That’s why governments are eager to roll out kid-friendly policies and slap pictures of smiling youngsters on campaign brochures.
But a few misguided laws in Manitoba make it seem like our local leaders care more about the politics than the kids.
Let’s start with the province’s year-old bike helmet law, which turns anyone under the age of 18 into a criminal if they ride without a brain bucket.
While I agree with the intent of the law, having police chase down 10-year-olds for letting their hair blow in the breeze seems like a massive overreaction and waste of resources.
Better to deal with this through public education than public prosecution. However, saying you launched an education program doesn’t sound as impressive as passing legislation, so now every kid on a BMX is an outlaw.
In a case of the government not going far enough, we have the city’s new bylaw to create 30 kilometre-per-hour speed limits in school zones.
The trouble is, the lower speeds will only be in effect from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, September through June. And as I’ve written in the past, part-time safety zones lead to part-time safety.
Kids use school grounds at all times of the day and year, and they deserve to expect a consistent level of safety without having to check a watch or calendar. Further, they walk or ride bikes outside of school zones, or play in community parks that don’t enjoy the same protection.
A more sensible solution would be to set a constant 40 kilometre-per-hour speed limit on all residential streets. But city hall seems more interested in the perception of safety than actual improvements.
Finally, we have a case of government not even knowing what it’s protecting kids from.
The province recently announced it will ban the use of some weed and insect control products for home use to “protect children from synthetic chemical lawn pesticides.”
But the products being targeted have been tested extensively by Health Canada and declared safe for use around children, teenagers, pregnant women and other adults.
Instead, the province wants homeowners to use a variety of “green” alternatives.
“It is not a matter of to spray or not to spray, but rather what you spray on your lawn,” said Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh.
But he’s wrong. Drowning your lawn with an ineffective organic product isn’t a safe option.
Instead, it’s a matter of how to spray. Follow the label on any approved pesticide and your children (and lawn) will be fine.
Again, if government truly had the best interests of children in mind, it would invest in public education on pesticide use, not unscientific bans for products that already meet strict safety guidelines.
A half-baked helmet law, a half-assed school zone bylaw and a hare-brained pesticide ban: Who is going to protect the children from the politicians?
[Sic] Deficit Model : The Canadian Cancer Society !!!