Linda Tomlinson presents MP Blaine Calkins with a petition calling for Criminal Code changes in Leslieville Wednesday.

Petition calls for harsher penalties for collisions caused by unsafe turns

Linda Tomlinson should have been celebrating with her husband, Bill, whose 56th birthday would have been Wednesday.

Linda Tomlinson should have been celebrating with her husband, Bill, whose 56th birthday would have been Wednesday.

Instead, she was presenting a petition to Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins that asks for stiffer charges against people who cause collisions when making unsafe left-hand turns.

Bill Tomlinson died in one of the leading causes of crashes on Sept. 24, 2010, after a pickup truck crossed the path of his motorcycle on the Rainy Creek Road, about three kilometers northeast of Leslieville.

Linda Tomlinson presented Calkins with the petition, with more than 1,000 signatures on it, at the Leslieville GTI gas bar and convenience store.

Her daughter, Pamela, 23, started where the petition can be found.

“It is time to get this into the next level,” Linda Tomlinson said on Wednesday.

Calkins said he will table the petition in the House of Commons later this month.

The Minister of Justice or the Justice Department will respond to it, but Calkins said he did not know how long the response would take.

“I sense what you’re looking for here are some changes to our system because there’s no justice. The penalty was not commensurate with the loss you suffered. Obviously it’s frustrating to you and I understand that,” Calkins told Tomlinson.

The petition, which started circulating last summer, is asking for changes to the Canadian Criminal Code section that will better define the term “dangerous to the public.” This could allow police to lay charges when a motor vehicle is operated improperly causing death.

“We are not doing this just for Bill,” Tomlinson said. “We are doing it for the other ones who are at risk.”

Tomlinson says she hopes that Calkins takes the petition to Parliament and presents it in the House of Commons.

“It is time something is done, if you look at the fines for the improper left-hand turn they range from $25 to $130 and that is fine for just a traffic incident but for something where there is a fatality or someone is grievously injured, it is inappropriate.”

Driver Brett Bardenhagen was fined $115 after pleading guilty in Rock Mountain House provincial court last Aug. 17 for making the left-hand turn that killed Bill Tomlinson.

“The RCMP and the judge all apologized to me for the fine being as it was,” Tomlinson said.

“I hope the law is changed so the police and the courts have some recourse. If there is more of a deterrent than people might start thinking.”

Tomlinson said she thinks someone responsible for making an unsafe left-hand turn should at least have their driver’s licence suspended.

As the spring weather approaches, Tomlinson is also warning motorists to be aware of motorcyclists appearing on Alberta’s roads.

“Because the bikes are small they look further away than they are,” she said.

“So take those extra few seconds, take that second look, and if in doubt, let it go by.”

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