Legislative and Policy Review

AuthorNathan Baker
chapter 3
In a federation such as Canada, the division of powers is an interesting
place to begin the analysis of how statutory law will have to adapt to the
changes created by autonomous vehicles. Provinces have had the authority
to deal with local matters, such as driving and trac, yet the federal gov-
ernment controls criminalization of actions. Driving crosses both spheres
in the criminal and quasi-criminal realms. Civil matters are a provincial
head of power, yet vehicle safety is regulated at the federal level, setting
requirements for manufacturers across the country. Canada also cedes
control over certain things, such as vehicle emission standards, to other
authorities. A nation of its size cannot have the f‌inal say on issues that will
af‌fect manufacturers around the world but will have the ability to play
a role in shaping the laws that will regulate such matters for years into
the future.
1) Motor Vehicle Safety Act, SC 1993, c 16
This is the federal Act that governs safety equipment and importation
requirements for motor vehicles. It allows the federal transport minister
to regulate safety standards and to require remediation if a safety concern
36 | Autonomous Vehicles
is identif‌ied. It bars the import or use of vehicles that do not meet the
requisite safety requirements. At section 9, it allows for an exemption
from standards for a period to be specif‌ied for vehicles that “promote the
development of (a)new safety features that are equivalent to or superior
to those that conform to prescribed standards; or (b)new kinds of vehicles,
technologies, vehicle systems or components.”
Sections 13(1) and 13.1 of the Act allow for the adoption of regulations
already in use in another country and the creation of short-term regula-
tory changes while full regulation is being considered. This power may be
applied to autonomous vehicles by adopting laws already on the books in
other jurisdictions.
Transport Canada, which is responsible for investigating and manag-
ing safety recalls and remedy of non-compliance, is the federal authority
that will have a signif‌icant impact on shaping regulations for the design
of and required functions for autonomous vehicles.
2) Testing Highly Automated Vehicles in Canada: Guidelines for
Trial Organizations
Transport Canada
These guidelines1 set up a number of recommendations but do not carry
punishments for non-compliance, although failure to comply with them
may be considered in determining an appropriate standard of care in a
civil or criminal proceeding. The guidelines encourage sucient testing
in closed-course environments or on-road testing in another jurisdiction
or some other form of validation mechanism, such as computer simu-
lation prior to trialling on public roads. “Tests should consider the vari-
ous environmental, road, and trac conditions that can reasonably be
expected to be encountered within the geographical area and timeframe
for the planned trial.”2
1 Minister of Transport & the Canadian Council for Motor Transport Administrators,
“TestingHighly Automated Vehicles in Canada: Guidelines for Trial Organizations”
(2018), online (pd):Transport Canada https://tc.canada.ca/sites/default/f‌iles/
2 Ibid at 11.

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