Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill S-9. I want to follow up on an issue the Bloc member dealt with in terms of the microchip solution.
I had pointed out that a number of years ago Manitoba was looking into making immobilizers mandatory. In fact, in the beginning Manitoba made them optional. There was a reduction in the insurance premium for people who voluntarily installed immobilizers in their cars. Guess what? Absolutely nobody took the offer. There were maybe 100 people in the whole province who did. It was only when the provincial government took the bull by the horns and made immobilizers mandatory and free that we started to see results.
We saw a huge reduction over the first year or so. In fact, auto theft was down to the point where there was one day in March a year ago where there were no auto thefts. As a matter of fact, the problem has changed to one where people have been having difficulty finding cars to steal and lately they have been commandeering taxis. That has become a problem that Manitoba is dealing with. The taxi drivers are looking at options involving shields and further protection because recently quite a number of taxis have been commandeered.
At the time we were looking at the immobilizer program there were some statistics available from the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Those insurance statistics would represent all the provinces outside of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, as they all have government-run programs.
I believe the studies at the time showed that if the big car companies were mandated by the government to install these immobilizers it could have been done 10 years ago at a cost of $30 for installation in each car. I may be wrong on the amount of $30, and it could have been $40 or $50, but it did not cost a lot to install an immobilizer in each car. We would have nipped the auto theft problem in the bud in the beginning and it would have cost a fraction of what it has cost society overall. However, the car companies refused to do that.
People then would have to put in after-market immobilizers. We all know that after-market immobilizers often do not work with the car's electrical system. Also, the engineering department of Ford, for example, refused to honour the warranties if the owners had put in after-market immobilizers. The car owners were caught. They wanted to do the right thing, but if they put in an after-market immobilizer, it would cause problems with the warranty on their new car, so there was a bit of a standoff. It is no surprise that very few people put in after-market immobilizers which, by the way, were very expensive.
The government had a responsibility here. In those days it was probably still a Liberal government because it was a few years ago. The government has to look at the Insurance Bureau of Canada statistics and it should be proactive. It should be looking for a solution and not waiting for the problem to mushroom to the extent that it has.
I am not sure whether it was during the last days of the Liberal government, but I think it may have been the Conservative government that actually mandated immobilizers in all new cars in Canada as of a certain date three or four years ago. That was a very positive thing to do. Within a 10-year period, which is the time it will take for all the older cars to be removed from the road, the problem should cure itself. That is quite a long time. Certainly, if the microchips are going to help solve this problem or do more to curb the problem, then we should be looking at them as well.
In Manitoba there are people who joyride in cars. In Toronto and Montreal, it involves more organized crime in high-end vehicles.
Madam Speaker, I understand that my time is up for today.