Ontario Provincial Police collars MINI convoy part 1

The automotive enthusiast community in Southern Ontario has been in a bit of a tizzy over the past 24 hours about the story of a convoy of MINI drivers that was pulled over on Sunday afternoon north of Toronto.

This is a story of driving, questionable journalism and even more questionable policing. It affects each and every driving enthusiast in Ontario.

Late last night I received an e-mail from Leighton Irwin asking if I had heard anything about how the OPP had “nailed a whole convoy of Minis on #11 North of Barrie on the weeekend. From the footage shown there were several cruisers pulling out and pulling over a lot of the convoy of Minis (new version) Supposedly nailed several for 50 over and seized cars etc. Also apparently 11 cars (not sure if they were all Minis) had children in them and the OPP are involving the Childrens Aid Society.”

I found and watched the news report on A Channel, which were there for the event. As I listened carefully, I was astonished to find that the news coverage had been scripted in such a manner that it sounded like the car siezures, 50 overs and CAS involvement had applied to the convoy of MINIs. I decided a bit of digging was in order.

The news report with the offending verbiage was removed from the A Channel web site at some point earlier today. So much for the accountability of traditional media vs. new media, but that is another topic. Sort of. Another time perhaps.

Through the power of the interwebs, I have been speaking with one of the MINI drive event organizers. He has done such a great job outlining the day’s events that I have no choice but to respect his request for anonymity:

The “Rattler Cruise” Background:

We hold a cruise up in the Muskoka area in the Spring and the Fall called the Rattler (My wife and I came up with the name because of the effect that the run has on both your body and cars and the fact that Torrance Barrens is one of the last strongholds of the Massasauga Rattle snake). The cruises are designed as family friendly days out and pretty much mark the beginning and end of the ‘cruising’ season. This is the 5th running of the spring event which started out with only 20 or so Minis. The spring and fall cruises now attract some 40 and 60 plus Minis respectively.

2010 Spring Rattler (25th April 2010)

Approx 2 weeks ago I informed the OPP (web site message) about the cruise as a courtesy because our numbers had reached 30 plus. I informed them of the route, timings and approx numbers and passed on a link to the Rattler Cruise thread on our site. I’ve always figured that it is better to work with the law rather than against it. I did not receive a reply, nor did I expect one as it was an informative message, not one requesting any input.

On the morning of the event at The Colossus (Highway 400 and 7), those attending from the Toronto area and beyond met to form a convoy up to the cruise start point. All was well and they even got a visit from the OPP who informed them that it should be a nice driving day and that there was only one other patrol on the 400 Northbound. Regardless of this, cruisers are always reminded that they should keep to the speed limits because a line of Minis always attracts attention from everyone.

The Colossus group was joined part way up the 400 by an OPP motorcyclist, who did not seem in any way concerned with the driving behaviour of those in the convoy. No one saw any ‘ghost’ vehicles or aircraft (the cloud base was low anyway).

When the convoy approached the Memorial Avenue junction with Highway 11 the convoy noticed flashing blue and red lights approaching from the right and naturally assumed that it was emergency vehicles responding to an accident. They were totally surprised to realise that they were the focus of the OPP’s attention. Some pulled to the left to allow the emergency vehicles to merge onto the highway; some had to brake hard to avoid hitting the car in front and those in the front, aware of the reality pulled over immediately closely followed by OPP cruisers.

In short it was a badly executed exercise, which could so easily have been avoided. The news cameras were already set up and the OPP seemed to be ‘playing to the crowd’. I cannot understand why the offenders were not ‘booked’ when they reached Webers as the OPP knew that was where they were heading. In all 4 cars were pulled over, three received tickets for 121-123kph in a 90kph limit and one received a warning. They were caught just as the 400 turns into 11, where the limit goes from 100-90kph. One other individual was stopped for operating a radar detector (idiot) and had his equipment confiscated and received a fine.

We saw several OPP cruisers and ghost vehicles on the Rattler (Southwood Road) and Highway 169 to Gravenhurst. There were also a couple of cruisers that pulled into the car park at Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst whilst we were having our lunch.

The speeding fines are the responsibility of the individuals, but the whole operation seemed to be planned. Why did the OPP not inform us that they intended to increase their surveillance of the highway that day? I know that when you are driving a cruise you should expect to draw some attention , but this seemed a little excessive. Maybe we should consider requesting an escort on future cruises? (it would be cheaper for the OPP) It makes me second guess the value in informing the OPP of the cruises that I plan in the future.

I would like to see better cooperation between the OPP and ALL motoring clubs. To this end I have contacted the OPP, but have not as yet received a reply.

There are so many issues to address here that I’m not sure quite where to start.

Perhaps a break in the story would be a good idea, as this is too long already!

Part 2: My thoughts

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Comments

  1. says

    The fact that the media was pre-arranged for a spontaneous enforcement act puts a whole new meaning to the story. I will write my MPP and ask if this is government policy.

  2. myshoes>mini says

    If your info was correct, than if nobody was speeding and what not and you were more aware of the cruise routes and speed limits along those routes you would not have any issues and this story would have more merit. As per this article, it's just whining no matter what your intent was. 120 in a 90 is 120 in a 90 and merits being stopped. A cruise is designed to draw attention to yourselves. Why not give the officers absolutely no reason to stop your cruise. Than, like I said previous there would be some merit to this article. To think that writing to anyone MPP or otherwise will do anything is a joke. You should know this. You cannot affect any type of change by writing a letter. Good luck!!! You should keep going on cruises and you can keep writing letters and as long as you make just one step out of line expect Obviously Political Police to give you a hard time. Next time just pay for a police escort. If you can't beat em, get em to join you.

    • Xiek says

      I do not deny that I was driving a bit "spiritedly" on that cruise. The fact that we received all the exact same speed (we were not all together) makes me wonder, and the fact that we were clocked at 123, when I can tell you my speedo did not surpass 120. Also, we were not weaving like the officer stated, and we were getting passed , those vehicles were not already pulled over at the side of the road when we got there.

      I believe that since the A News was there, they let those faster drivers go, to get a better news story.

      None of the MINI's pulled over had kids in the cars, None of the MINI's pulled over received 50 over tickets, and none were confiscated.

      Being involved in this story, does make me question the validity of the rest of their news stories though. How accurate are they really?

  3. hubble says

    Press in place to film a spotaneous enforcement? Ya right. But you have to expect the police somewhere along the way. I've run into that OPP detachment north of Barrie before. Makes me glad i live in AB now, where the speed limit is 110 and radar is legal.

  4. Dot says

    i was in that cruise…and what they dont show you is the OPP COP..standing…and i repeat…STANDING in the MIDDLE LANE…waving his arms at Minis to slow down …very dangerous in my opinion… having cars behind you brake hard .. is not a pleasent feeling… and we were set up..BIG TIME!!..and the ones that recieved tickes ..owned up to that… and that's not the issue..the issue is that way the ENTIRE day played out…

    once again ..they POOPED on our party..

  5. Leighton Irwin says

    Thinking some more on this it is very apparent that it was a planned set up.
    A Channel Barrie is located in the south end of Barrie off Essa Road.
    The junction of 400 and 11 is at the north end of Barrie and the speed limit drops while you are still on a controlled access highway.
    #11 from Barrie to Orillia is a 4 lane divided highway but not controlled access.
    The Minis were pulled over at Memorial Ave. at the south end of Orillia about 20 minutes from Barrie.
    Anytime I have seen a speed trap in Ont. the chase vehicles are right there or a 100 or so yards down the road not 20 miles away.
    Interesting the TV station was there at the right time all the way from the South end of Barrie..
    Now Central Traffic covers that stretch of highway but otherwise it is 2 separate OPP divisions, Barrie and Orillia..
    The area of Southwood Road, #169 and Gravenhurst is yet another division based in Bracebridge.
    It is very clear this was a co-ordinated effort to nail the Minis.
    It is no wonder Fantino is losing respect of the motoring public aided and abbetted by the McGuinty Govt.

  6. John says

    The OPP that day had a steady speed trap going on well before the Mini convoy had reached that area. I went through the trap approx. 1.5-2 hours earlier and they were pulling over everyday drivers for speeding. I came back southbound hwy. 11 two hours later and i happened to driving by just as that OPP officer was standing in the middle of hwy 11 waiving the minis all to pull over. There was a line up of approx. 20 minis stopped on tin the middle of hwy with approx. 7 or 8 already on the shoulder. I think that it was a case of catching a few speeders in that convoy and thought what the heck, lets just get them all over to the side and deal with them all. just my $.02

  7. Superfreak says

    Sorry you guys served as peons for an obvious setup just to show OPP "doing their job".
    Never trust cops, and OPP least of all. I'd have sent them bogus info about routes and schedule.
    I bet this is harder to swallow being tax return season and all, guess where your cash goes…

  8. cobra kit says

    Maybe it's time to voice our objections as a large group of the tax paying public who actually "VOTE"

  9. says

    Speeding is speeding in the eyes of the law. The A-channel crew is always looking for a story about cottage country and the cops are always patrolling major highways and it's not in their best interest to inform you or anyone when they are putting any extra surveillance out.

    There are plenty of places that won't attract alot of attention. Why not drive on those instead?

    I'm not a cop but if I saw a parade of anything going 15-20 or more over the limit I'd wave the bunch of them over too. Heck I could dole out a week's worth of tickets in a few hours :D

    • Stealthie1 says

      I see lines of cars doing 25-40 over the limit everyday on the 401 on the way to work. I don't see the OPP pulling these people over in record numbers! It's a farce, Fantino has an issue with anything to do with Automotive enthuisists, whether it be grassroots racers to tuners and customizers. I wonder if Fantino had a hobby, we should get that outlawed and see how he likes it!

      • gary says

        I agree with you I have also driven the 400 and 401 and seen many drivvers going way over the "limit" . I think someone saw this as an opportunity to misconstrue a bunch of cool MINIS on a charity event as a bunch of "street racing MINIS " and a photo op to show how our cops are working so hard to get these dangerous drivers off the street. This should have been handled soooo much better. Shame on the OPP
        Thanks Gary (2010 MINI COOPER S)

    • XPHYS says

      Hey Lance 1966…you're just a freakn' hater! Only in a socialist country do you not question your government or law enforcement. Don't you think for a moment that when a police force calls in the media prior to a situation that they want to create a show? The police wanted to show their muscle. I would suggest that you also look up the age of the average driver of a Mini. Most of them are in their 40's and just enjoy driving. Driver enthusiast know that most people are A to B drivers and realize that other people just don't simply find joy in driving. Your message sound like you were bullied growing up and you would like to offer pay backs to other just enjoying life…you should have just been a cop so that you can pretend you have some control…get a life!

  10. dontspeed says

    Why would they tell police that they were going there in the first place?
    Drive the speed limit and no one will bother you.
    If I were a cop and saw 20 boy racers on the highway, some
    doing 30 over..I'd stop them too…get over it…rent a Race track and go have fun.

  11. Boy Racer says

    It's sad that you generalize and classify all MINI driver as boy racers when only 3 of the them were actually fined. I am sure you have exceeded the speed limit on many occasions, stop being a hypocrite. You must drive a chev cavalier, leave your Mini envy at home.

    • dontspeed says

      " leave your Mini envy at home." Sorry, a baby BMW would not be my choice for an automobile!!
      BTW..I don't drive a Cavalier!! I drive a YUGO LOL
      I still say telling the cops where and when they would be…was the major "COCK UP" here.
      And, I had my share of speeding tickets on navigation Rallies over the years…And yes,
      cops were waiting for us too..on back roads !!
      Next time tell the organizer NOT to call the cops. !! LOL
      On the video I saw..they did look like boy racers.!!..

  12. csurfer says

    Have the group file a liable suite against the news stations. They clearly misrepresented the facts. They are the ones that did wrong. The OPP although a little over zealous were doing there jobs. I wonder what would happen, if everyone actually drove the posted limits for a month. We would have more chaos then you could imagine, that's why the flow of traffic should be your guidance to speed.

  13. Dulley says

    They were driving with the flow of traffic …. but were the only ones being pulled over at that time. Other makes within the convoy were waved on.

  14. big daddy says

    i do thionk you were set up as well. the area you got pulled over and the fact that the media was there. i'd take it to court and try and fight it.

  15. Jewels says

    I don't know if cops up in the great white are as over payed, over rated, coddled, and blatantly inept as cops (suburban and rural) here in the US, but after reading this… I think so.

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