Making your voice heard on Parliament Hill couldn’t be easier. Just visit www.righttorepair.ca, click on “Take Action,” and then on “Contact Your MP.” The site walks you through the process. You can choose a pre-written letter… or you can write your own. When you’re ready, click ‘submit’ and it goes straight to your MP’s inbox. You don’t even need an envelope!
With the number of people in the Canadian aftermarket, our MPs should be swamped with letters. Let’s give them something to think about.
Here’s what I wrote to my Member of Parliament, Paul Szabo (Lib., Mississauga South): Dear Mr. Szabo,
I’m very concerned about the ability of my local independent automotive repair facility to continue to repair my vehicle.
Not because the owners of the shop don’t hire capable service technicians. They do. I know them personally, and I’m impressed with their skill and enthusiasm for the trade.
It’s not because these technicians don’t avail themselves of the latest training. On the contrary, they’re keen to learn, and they routinely sign up for all the latest clinics, whether they’re conducted during the workday, after hours, or on the weekend.
And it’s not because the shop doesn’t have the latest in automotive service equipment. The owners have made a tremendous investment in high-end diagnostic tools, and they have the software updated regularly.
It is because the manufacturer of my vehicle is not willing to make essential repair information available to them. It wants to keep its technical information to itself, sharing it only among its dealers. Furthermore, there are some specialty tools it won’t sell to anyone outside of its network. And it’s excluding anyone but its own dealer technicians from training classes where its technology is discussed.
The independent repair shop has been effectively locked out.
These measures are meant to force me – and millions of Canadians – to return to a new-car dealership for service work. They’re meant to take away our choice to do business where we are want. And they are throwing the livelihood of tens of thousands of people who work at independent repair shops into jeopardy.
Some car companies are playing fair with repair information. But the majority of the cars on Canadian roads are made by companies which are refusing to share their service information, tools, and training. This is unconscionable in a free market economy.
My service provider assures me he’s willing to pay for the information he requires. He’d be happy with the kind of relationship that exists in the United States between vehicle manufacturers and independent service shops. In the U.S., vehicle manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to share service information.
I’m asking you to help us achieve the same kind of agreement in Canada. I’m asking you to petition the government to exert pressure on the car companies to share their technology. And if a voluntary agreement is not possible, I believe the government of Canada needs to step in and provide a legislated solution to this impasse.
The right of people in your riding to choose the repair facility they want to deal with is being threatened. And the right of many shop owners in your riding to make a living is being limited. Please let me know what you can do to help rectify this situation.
Constituent, Mississauga South
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Edited comments may appear in Canadian Technician magazine.