“Je me souviens” … French for “I remember” has been emblazoned on Quebec’s vehicle licence places since the Part Quebecois was elected back in the 1970s.
The motto actually dates back to 1883, inscribed above the main entrance of the Parliament Buildings in Quebec City, supposedly urging Quebec citizens …both French and English … to remember their proud history.. In 1939 it was added to the province’s Coat of Arms … again viewed by most as a historical and cultural tribute to the province’s past.
But under the separatists and nationalists, Je me souviens also became a rallying cry for Francophone Quebeckers to remember the domination, discrimination and disrespect they had suffered for generations at the hands of the English speaking ruling minority.
Which brings ME to the oh-so-unpopular-with-some Insurance Corporation of BC: Je me souviens!
Je me souviens what it was like for many, many drivers BEFORE government-run vehicle insurance was introduced: the domination, discrimination and disrespect they suffered at the hands of huge profit-driven private corporations … that virtually held POWER over anyone and everyone who wanted to legally drive a vehicle in Canada.
For those of you too young to remember … the closest thing you could compare it to today, in my view, is the way the Health Insurance industry operates in the United States!!!
Even minimal coverage sure seemed expensive; lots of exclusions and limitations; high deductibles; not much real choice; and then there was constant fear of being turned down, canceled or punished for daring to file.
Heaven help many who had a claim where they WERE found to have been responsible!
It sure didn’t seem to me there really was much competition … more like an annual shakedown … even though then (and by the way, right up until today 56 years later, I have NEVER made a single insurance claim where I was found to be at fault).
For those who did have a true “accident” … they do sometimes just happen, even unavoidably … the “GUILTY” party would be forced to pay and pay and pay for years by the private corporate insurers … not to the point of justice, but of exploitation.
Clearly my impressions/experiences/remembrances (JE me souviens!) of what it was like before ICBC was created were shared by millions of British Columbians. Because the public WANTED change … to kick the bums out.
ICBC was created in 1973 by the NDP government under Premier Dave Barrett. “The original purpose of ICBC was to provide universal and affordable compulsory public auto insurance in British Columbia by operating on a non-profit basis,” reads the historical explanation in Wikipedia.
It was a revolutionary move … any MANY of us felt liberated in more ways than one. My rates came down; my fear of being canceled or denied coverage by insurers was gone; and for the first time I saw the basic car insurance …just like basic health care … as collective caring and sharing.
Of course, there are always those who try to CHEAT the system … not only thousands of scamming motorists, but even complicit doctors, scheming lawyers and their well-programmed paid-for “experts”.
“In March 2010, Christy Clark‘s BC Liberal government announced that it would require ICBC to pay the province dividends totalling some $778 million over three years, thus signalling the end of ICBC’s operation as a non-profit Crown corporation, and also making it the only for-profit public auto insurance provider in Canada” Wikipedia points out.
The Liberals raped ICBC for more than $1 Billion.
And ICBC also became so top heavy with bureaucrats … so often typical of government-run organizations … many of them too highly paid, in my view.
It’s as if anyone who could was chewing away at what began as a bold innovative creation like vultures ripping into a carcass.
But ICBC must NOT be allowed to die.
It can be fixed; it can perform a highly valuable role for BC’s motoring public … at reasonable cost, much better than anything private insurers could or would do for us and to us over the long haul if ICBC were eliminated or its compulsory basic requirement coverage removed.
Je me souviens!
It boggles my mind that some want to go back to a totally private car insurance system!
They’d probably LOVE the US private health care insurance system too … until they get really sick or injured.
(PS. If anyone responds to this post with stories about particular private insurance companies, please do not include the company name. I’m really enjoying retirement and prefer not to spend my time in Court defending one-sided potentially libelous remarks.)