By IAN ROSS
A Sudbury native and former truck driver is making a name for himself as the new voice of owner/operators across Canada.
Peter Turner, a former trucker, has launched a new career as a registered lobbyist and consultant for owner-operators.
"I'm fighting the whole industry and I'm the only one registered to do it," says Turner, based out of Stittsville, Ont., who started a Web site last fall called The Truckers Voice.
Senior levels of government rely on the Canadian Trucking Alliance and their provincial affiliates for information on the industry, says Turner, but they only represent the companies, not independent drivers and owner-operators.
Turner claims his company represents some 200 truckers, bus drivers, and even a few West Coast Teamsters.
After spending 22 years in the industry including the five years as an owner-operator, he retired two years ago at age 46.
"My load broker went bankrupt on us and my wife and I lost $40,000," says Turner, who estimates he lost $100,000 in the last 20 years.
He is admittedly angry at the entire trucking industry for not showing drivers more respect by enabling them to survive on a decent wage.
Small operators are being hit the worst by increases in fuel prices, insurance premiums, WSIB increases and other taxes.
"Ninety per cent of trucking companies have a fuel cap of 47 cents, but they refuse to pass it on to the owner/operators. It's a dirty game."
Turner estimates more than 1,000 owner/operators across Canada have gone broke and have permanently parked their rigs in the last year.
"I was raised around trucks. For 22 years I was always in the trucking industry. I just love to drive and I love the industry but...you realize you're not getting any further ahead."
Turner is also fighting the federal government. He recently gathered 5,000 names on a petition against the federal government's new regulations for a proposed new 84-hour work week for long-haul drivers.