IS RACISM ALIVE AND WELL IN CALGARY? YOU BET IT IS!

John Bliss

IS RACISM ALIVE AND WELL IN CALGARY? YOU BET IT IS: JUST ASK A CABBIE!            

Anyone including the White Anglo-Saxon males can easily be a victim of racism: Just ask my dearly departed grandfather.  Upon his arrival here in 1906 his employability was hampered by signs everywhere that read “Help Wanted: no Englishmen need apply”.

You might want to call that reverse discrimination—a common misnomer in face of the reality that there is no such thing as “reverse discrimination”.  It is pure discrimination and racism no matter the victim’s ethnic background. It is still racism.

Flash forward three generations and there I am driving a cab in pursuit of a college education.  After graduation, I began working in Alberta’s oilfields and quickly discovered an unbelievably shocking level of racism throughout Alberta.

I shocked at the incidence of racism everywhere, particularly in housing and employment.  Compared to other provinces where I lived, Alberta landlords and employers were cherry picking the race of their choice with impunity, for unlike the rest of Canada, human rights laws were archaic and unenforced on a variety of political pretexts.

The taxi industry was brutal and stood out as the poster boy for racism anywhere in Canada.  It was a regular occurrence for me to see customers at taxi stands leaning to check the skin color of a cab’s driver before hiring.  They were not infrequently belligerent when I told such customers to take the first cab in the que.

I had my own taxi and as such, would hire drivers.  I was then with Red Top Taxi a white man only company.  Being a Baha’i I was not about to get racist in my hiring practices.

In 1984 I found myself in trouble with the company over my hiring a person of color.  I stood my ground and went to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.  The commission told me that white persons could not complain on behalf of visible minorities and if my religion were an obstacle, I should work for another broker or start my own company.

In other words, it was obvious that the government of the day was unclear of the concept that members of the Ku Klux Klan were not qualified as intake officers for the commission.

Both Calgary’s taxi brokers and local politicians were brazenly racist to the extreme.  One manager said “I’m not prejudiced, I simply hate their guts” while a city councilor walked up to a group of company managers in my presence and blurted “You boys don’t need to worry, we’ll (city council) take care of those turban heads for you.”  It was obvious where council’s in camera debates were heading.

It was clearly obvious that cab drivers—most of whom by the mid 1980’s were visible minorities, had to cope with politicians who were publicly champions of racial equality and in camera racists from the word go.

That generation of political leadership is now a thing of the past, for children of today are racially colorblind.  Kids today are noticeably intolerant of racist attitudes.  It clearly shows that extermination of racism begins with the education the suckling generation and the public in general.

Society can’t even begin to reconcile with oppressed minorities.  Reconciliation simply doesn’t work.  Instead embrace each other’s racial and cultural heritage, for true reconciliation is through embracement and not apologies for past wrongs.

For example, why not instruct school boards to teach the First Nations language of the tribe where the school board is located and name a street or other landmark after DR PETER HENDERSON BRYCE —a champion of native rights.

John bliss©2020

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TAXI DEREGULATION IN QUEBEC IS NOW HERE

John Bliss

Taxi deregulation has finally come to Quebec with François Bonnardel’s bill 17, An Act Respecting Remunerated Passenger Transportation by Automobile is now law and will take effect on October 20 this year.

The new legislation takes control of regulation away from municipalities and into the hands of the province in an effort to allow industry stakeholders greater flexibility in coping with changing market conditions and new technologies.

While not perfect, it is by every means the best legislation to put in its appearance since the onset of the “Uber crisis” in 2015.

Here is what the legislation does:

1: Municipalities will no longer regulate the industry, instead, it will fall under the jurisprudence of Quebec’s Commission des transports du Québec (Quebec Transportation Commission) who will then oversee all matters relating to the taxi/limousine industry clean across the province.

2: It abolished the use of such terms as brokers and TNCs (Transportation Network Companies such as Uber) and replaces them with the term “transportation system”—a term that embraces all automobile modes of transportation including ridesharing. Transportation systems may have any combination of vehicle types. In other words, a transportation system can have both taxis and ride sharing cars in their fleet and work in tandem with the same dispatcher.

3: Ride sharing vehicles are restricted to receiving trip offers through app dispatching. They are prohibited from prearranged trips and telephone dispatching, which remain the exclusive preserve of traditional top light equipped taxis.

 

4: A driver may, for the sake of customer convenience, pick up a fare outside the city for which he is licensed if he should clear a trip within another city’s jurisdiction. That could conceivably include dispatched trips since Bill 17 makes no such restriction.

 

5: The new bill legalized price competition due to Uber’s persistent undercutting the regulated fares taxis had to comply with.

 

6: The medallion system—a system that limits the number of transferrable taxi permits, is now abolished. And therein lay the primary source of cabby opposition to the bill. After all, who likes seeing a relieving anyone of a $220,000 investment?

 

The government has provided $816 million compensation program for its 7600 medallion holders. It will be financed with a 90 cent per trip tax.

 

That’s average of $107,368.42 per permit holder. François Bonnardel, Quebec’s transport minister says that is the government’s final offer. In my opinion that is not an unreasonable offer.

 

Let us be clear about one thing though. An open entry system of cab licensing system as experienced in other jurisdictions will lead to extreme market fragmentation without a prohibition against fixed stand rents and leasing fees drivers pay to their fleet owners and dispatchers. Uber’s commission system is a much better system provided drivers are protected through collective agreements and employment standards legislation.

 

In fact, Uber’s commission system of stand rents is the primary reason many traditional taxi drivers migrate from taxis to Uber.

Industry stakeholders must overcome the taxi shibboleths of yesteryear and get into the 21st century if they wish to survive.

 

Drivers and their customers both substantially benefit from the new legislation. Here’s hoping other jurisdictions have sufficient wisdom to follow suit.

Click here to see the entire legislation

Problems with Uber and TNC’s in General

Persons who use TNCs such as Uber or Lyft should view the CBC’s October 22, 2018 broadcast of “The Fifth Estate” titled “The Problem With Uber” and it’s detrimental impact on the quality and safety of the riding public in Taxis, Limousines and Private for Hire such as Uber. The program is shown below.

Most governments have strict laws regarding such modes of travel commonly referred to as the taxi or livery industry.  The problem is that Uber came along and barged into the market place like a bull in a china shop with absolutely no regard for local laws governing such services.  They have even failed to take criminal background checks on new and existing drivers.

Calgary, for example requires all cab drivers to have an annually updated enhanced criminal background check which includes cases pending before the courts and court restraining orders. Uber drivers get a criminal review on their first license but it’s not clear on their license renewal as they are not required to have local regulators do it–they entirely rely on Uber’s purported annual review if any.

Fortunately, unlike the taxi industry, they do not service women’s shelters or unaccompanied children.

So which would you rather have show up at your door, a screened professional driver who’s undergone exhaustive driver training and  regular criminal checks or someone possibly unworthy on any trust you would bestow upon him.