Opinion » Editorial


Everyone in Whistler knows the 30 centimetre rule: if it snows 30 centimetres overnight everyone has the right to take the day off work. Last month the province introduced the 64 centimetre rule. Actually, it’s part of a provincial law, B.C.’s bicycle helmet law. In their haste to make the world a better place the provincial mandarins didn’t think the new helmet law through and had to announce a number of exemptions after the law came into effect. Among those exempt from wearing a cycling helmet are: people wearing religious headwear, pedicab operators and their passengers, children under 12 who ride in tricycles or play vehicles, those who have medical conditions which make helmet use unfeasible... and cyclists whose head circumference is larger than 64 centimetres. The exemption was necessary after it was discovered helmet manufacturers don’t make helmets any larger than 64 centimetres. Anyone with a melon that doesn’t fit in one of these buckets can apply to the Motor Vehicle Branch for an exemption. The officials at Motor Vehicles will then mail the applicant a laminated card that certifies he or she has a big head. Assuming such a big headed person is able to balance a bike, if he or she is stopped by a policeman for riding without a helmet they may produce their laminated card, proving they have a big head, and carry on without a fine. Motor Vehicles advises that from time to time big-headed riders may be called upon to prove the circumference of their skull exceeds 64 centimetres. One can envision a situation something like a stick measurement in hockey: if the curve of the stick is more than the rules allow the offending player gets a two-minute minor; if the head circumference is less than 64 centimetres the offending cyclist is hit with a fine and loses his laminated card. Officially, the 64 centimetre rule only applies to the bicycle helmet law, but in recent weeks Premier Glen Clark and his cabinet have been found using the same rule on a number of other issues where reality doesn’t quite jibe with the government’s plans. The budget comes to mind. Last spring, as he was announcing new projects daily, the premier swore up and down he would produce a balanced budget. Now, as it becomes increasingly obvious that the premier’s office ordered revenue projections be inflated to balance expenditures, Premier Clark is pulling out his laminated card and saying "Sorry, I had a big head. I’m exempt." Last month the board of Forest Renewal B.C. determined it had more money than it knew what to do with and decided to turn over a few hundred million to general revenue. This went against the promise made by the government when FRBC was founded, that the money could never be used for anything other than forest renewal. Confronted by citizens outraged at having been hit by a new tax and then lied to, Forest Minister David Zirnhelt whipped out his laminated card and invoked the 64 centimetre rule. This week, Deputy Premier Dan Miller announced that he has found very little opposition to a "Monaco-style" casino in the province. The very idea of a Monaco-style casino, raised only two years after the people of B.C. demonstrated they were opposed to a Las Vegas-style casino, is evidence that the 64 centimetre rule is in effect any time it’s convenient for the provincial government. Now, how many people feel guilty about invoking the 30 centimetre rule?