PUT IT IN PARK: Time to abolish Drive Clean Program, say critics

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Tory incumbent Jim McDonell speaks at a media event Friday, where he lambasted the provincial Drive Clean Program, and suggested it should be abolished.

CORNWALL, Ontario -Tory incumbent Jim McDonell lambasted the provincial Drive Clean Program Friday, calling it an "unnecessary" and "needless" government cash grab.

McDonell made a provincial election campaign stop at Miller-Hughes Ford in Cornwal where he found an ally in owner Shawn Maloney, who suggested the program frustrates car owners who often have to wait days for newer vehicles because the technology associated with the program in flawed.

"A simple thing like a bad battery, if it is replaced it knocks out the memory on the car," he said, adding Drive Clean testing checks for computer errors, not emissions from vehicle tailpipes. "We can't get plates for the car until it passes (the test).

"And we know the car is fine."

The Ontario Progressive-Conservatives have vowed to eliminate the program, despite plans by both the Liberals and NDP to maintain it.

"Forcing Ontario drivers to waste their time and hard-earned cash to pay for an unnecessary test is wrong," said McDonell.

Drive Clean was set up as a temporary measure with very specific goals of reducing vehicle emissions that contribute to poor air quality.

But critics have charged advances in fuel efficiency have surpassed what Drive Clean was set up to do.

"From 1999 to 2010 the percentage of vehicles that failed emissions testing in Ontario had dropped from 16 per cent to five per cent," said McDonell.

Maloney suggested 99 per cent of vehicles that move through his operation meet Drive Clean standards, though he must send vehicles out to be tested.

"Virtually all vehicles made within the last 15 years are passing Drive Clean test," said McDonell. "(This) proves that this temporary program has fulfilled its mandate and should be phased out just like B.C.'s emissions-testing program."

Geographic location: Ontario

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