Bill aids mechanics; Masse presses for 'right to repair' vehicles

IDNUMBER 200808190064
PUBLICATION: Edmonton Journal
DATE: 2008.08.19
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Cityplus
PAGE: B2
ILLUSTRATION: Photo: Walter Tychnowicz, The Journal / NDP MP Brian Masse,left, visits Roger Suranyi at the Namao Automotive Repair shop on Monday. ;
KEYWORDS: !@DATELINE=EDMONTON
BYLINE: Robin Collum
SOURCE: The Edmonton Journal
WORD COUNT: 349

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Canadians suffer 'double standard' in automotive repair: NDP MLA; Dealers won't license troubleshooting software to independent garages

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The days when a good mechanic could predict exactly what was wrong with a car based on the rattle under the hood are long gone.

Most modern vehicles are equipped with on-board computer programs that monitor how various parts are working; to access those readings, mechanics need special equipment and software. But in Canada, only dealership garages are authorized to have that technology.

A new private members' bill from an Ontario NDP MP looks to change that, however. Brian Masse, MP for Windsor West, is arguing the industry-imposed restrictions hurt consumers and businesses.

"Right now, people are left with limited opportunities," he said during a visit to Edmonton. "It's small businesses up against the big companies here.

"What we're saying is that consumers have the right to repair their vehicles."

In the United States, the major auto makers licence their software to independent repair shops for a fee. In Canada, however, only GM has any sort of agreement in place.

"We have a double standard here," Masse said. "Why is it that Canadians don't get the same treatment (by) the industry that provides vehicles on both sides of the border?"

To get around the restrictions in Canada, garages such as Namao Automotive Repair use a U.S. address and credit card to get the programs they need, but have to figure out by trial and error how to use them.

"We've had to take a sidestep and go through the States to get some of the equipment," said co-owner Nancy Suranyi. "We want to have the equipment and subscriptions more accessible (to) us so we can continue to provide this service so that the customers can keep on the road and keep going."

Suranyi thinks keeping the software and equipment from independent garages also hurts consumers.

"What happens is that vehicles have to be turned away, and end up going to another facility like a dealership, where the wait times might be considerably longer," she said.

But Steve Yarimchuk, service manager at Waterloo Ford Lincoln in Edmonton, thinks vehicle manufacturers have every right to keep their software private.

"I look at it like this: Does everybody have the right to the secret sauce at McDonald's? No. Each McDonald's pays a franchise fee to get that," he said.

"And you can't just go to McDonald's and say, 'I want to open Bill's Hamburgers and Fries, but I want to use your secret sauce, so here's some money.' It's the same thing."

rcollum@thejournal.canwest.com

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IDNUMBER 200808190051
PUBLICATION: The Windsor Star
DATE: 2008.08.19
EDITION: Final
SECTION: News
PAGE: A8
ILLUSTRATION: Photo: Brian Masse;
DATELINE: NAMAO, Alta.
BYLINE: Robin Collum
SOURCE: Canwest News Service
WORD COUNT: 222

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Bill aids mechanics; Masse presses for 'right to repair' vehicles

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NAMAO, Alta. - Windsor-West MP Brian Masse was in Alberta Monday to promote a private member's bill that would give Canadian mechanics the "right to repair" vehicles.

Currently, Canadian non-dealership mechanics are denied access to the computer software necessary to assess and fix problems in today's increasingly computerized vehicles.

Masse, has put forth a bill that will force automobile manufacturers to let licensed technicians access those programs and codes.

"Right now, people are being left with limited opportunities," Masse said from Namao, Alta., just north of Edmonton.

"It's simple programs that you have to download that's preventing work from being done by Canadian technicians who have had the same training as other places and dealerships."

New cars can have almost two dozen individual computer modules, and each one needs special software to access.

Once a mechanic has the diagnostic software he needs, he can find the source of the car's problem and fix it more quickly and cheaply.

But almost all the major car companies restrict access to their software in Canada to dealerships. That leaves independent garages without the tools they need to operate, and forces them to try to download and operate the software without the manufacturers' consent.

"It's small businesses up against the big companies here, " Masse said.

"The government right now is saying, 'Let's wait around until we hear complaints from consumers,' and that's not happened just yet, but that's unacceptable. We can't just let people lose their jobs . . . because the government is lazy and doesn't want to move."

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IDNUMBER 200808190080
PUBLICATION: National Post
DATE: 2008.08.19
EDITION: National
SECTION: CFL 2008
PAGE: A6
COLUMN: National Report
ILLUSTRATION: Black & White Photo: / (See hardcopy for Photo Description);
DATELINE: NAMAO, Alta.
SOURCE: Canwest News Service
WORD COUNT: 162

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'Right to repair' legislation introduced

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NAMAO, Alta. -An NDP MP has introduced a private member's bill that would give Canadian mechanics the "right to repair" vehicles. Brian Masse, pictured, the member for Windsor, Ont., says that right now, non-dealership mechanics are denied access to computer software necessary to assess and fix problems in today's increasingly computerized vehicles. His bill, unveiled yesterday, will force automobile manufacturers to let all licensed technicians access those programs and codes. "Right now, peoplearebeing left withlimited opportunities," Mr. Masse said from Namao, Alta., just north of Edmonton. "It's simple programs ... that's preventing work from being done by Canadian technicians who have had the same training as other places and dealerships." New cars can have almost two dozen individual computer modules, and each needs diagnostic software to help mechanics find the source of any problems.