Federal Government Reviews Mandatory Minimum Sentences Law

Update:

Justice. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Justice. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

see source

For instance, relief from a mandatory minimum could be granted in the case of a juvenile offender or an early guilty plea.

OTTAWA—The Liberal government is studying the idea of building some wiggle room into the controversial convention of mandatory minimum sentences to avoid unduly harsh penalties in cases that don’t warrant them.

The examination is part of a federal review of changes to the criminal justice system and sentencing reforms ushered in by the previous Conservative government, a frequent champion of setting minimum penalties for crimes involving drugs, guns and sexual exploitation.

A report prepared for the Justice Department says “a politically viable strategy” is to craft exemptions to mandatory minimums that kick in when certain criteria are met, as seen in several other countries.

For instance, relief from a mandatory minimum could be granted in the case of a juvenile offender, an early guilty plea or when an accused provides substantial help to the state, says the report by criminologist Yvon Dandurand of the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia.

Prison Bars. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Prison Bars. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

“The main argument in favour of creating exceptions to the application of mandatory minimum penalties remains the need to avoid unjust and arbitrary punishment,” says the report, completed in March and recently disclosed under the Access to Information Act.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is looking at mandatory minimum penalties and other related issues “as a key priority” in support of her criminal justice review, said Whitney Morrison, a spokeswoman for the minister.

In finding mandatory minimum sentences for certain firearms offences unconstitutional, the Supreme Court of Canada said last year that minimums amount to “a blunt instrument” that can result in a disproportionate sentence.

Such laws prescribe minimum sentences of 90 days for a repeat offence of selling a large volume of contraband tobacco, six months for distributing child pornography and five years for trafficking someone under age 18.

Conservative justice critic Rob Nicholson, who served as justice minister in the Harper government, makes no apologies for mandatory minimums, saying they send a stern warning that some crimes carry stiff penalties.

“I believe that the steps that we took were reasonable in terms of protecting the public and standing up for victims and sending out a message that some of this criminal activity was completely unacceptable,” Nicholson said in an interview.

Department of Justice Canada Headquarters. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is looking at mandatory minimum penalties and other related issues “as a key priority” in support of her criminal justice review, according to a spokeswoman. Liberals are looking to build exceptions to the mandatory minimum sentences in order to avoid unduly harsh penalties. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Department of Justice Canada Headquarters. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is looking at mandatory minimum penalties and other related issues “as a key priority” in support of her criminal justice review, according to a spokeswoman. Liberals are looking to build exceptions to the mandatory minimum sentences in order to avoid unduly harsh penalties. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Dandurand’s report updates research he carried out four years ago for the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, which highlights inconsistencies in legislation across the country and makes recommendations for improvement.

It notes that mandatory sentences take many forms, but generally prescribe both the type of penalty and the minimum level of the sanction. Sometimes they apply only to repeat offenders.

In the majority of countries where mandatory minimums exist — including England, the United States, Sweden and Australia — “some exceptions to their imposition have been provided by law,” Dandurand found.

Courtroom. Mandatory minimum sentences remove the discretion from the judge hearing the case. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Courtroom. Mandatory minimum sentences remove the discretion from the judge hearing the case. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

In some cases, the mandatory scheme specifically spells out grounds under which a court can override the presumption of a minimum sentence and exercise judicial discretion.

However, such “safety valve” provisions are almost non-existent in Canadian sentencing law, the report says.

Several jurisdictions have shown that it is “possible and useful” to introduce exceptions to mandatory minimum penalties, based on criteria that set a high threshold for any departure from the legislated minimum, the report concludes.

The Conservatives would challenge any attempt by the Liberals to water down mandatory sentence provisions, Nicholson said.

“I’d say, why are you doing this? Did you consult with victims’ groups? What’s the problem? The bills that we brought in, I believe, were reasonable.”

It's only fair to share...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on RedditEmail to someone

Peace Bridge Crosswalk on Memorial to Address Hundreds of Jaywalkers

Update: see previous post – March 28, 2012 City Examines New Bridge and Peace Bridge Crosswalk

Pam Tzeng is excited the city is building a new crosswalk on Memorial Drive at 9th Street, just west of the Peace Bridge.
Pam Tzeng is excited the city is building a new crosswalk on Memorial Drive at 9th Street, just west of the Peace Bridge. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

see source

New lights are being installed west of the busy pedestrian and bike bridge

Four years after the Peace Bridge opened, the city is installing a crosswalk and lights to the west of the span, allowing access across Memorial Drive at 9th Street.

“People don’t have to worry about crossing through the road where there are cars driving,” said city spokesperson Pooja Thakore. “Having the signal will make it much safer for people driving and walking, it’s a more predictable experience.”

She said an average of 200 people jaywalk in that location every day.

Mixed reaction

Pam Tzeng, who took advantage of a break in traffic to run across Memorial Drive on Saturday, is happy to hear about the lights.

“I’m super excited, I will no longer have to jaywalk,” she said with a laugh.

Not everyone is happy about the new lights, however.

“I think we have two walkways already and we don’t need a third walkway on Memorial Drive,” said Wendy Hansen.

“If people just obeyed the traffic signals that are there, that children already learn in Kindergarten, Grade 1, 2, 3…. We don’t need it.”

Construction on the project has already begun and is expected to be finished by the end of fall.

It's only fair to share...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on RedditEmail to someone

Driverless Cars in Pittsburgh Means No Need for Uber Drivers in Future

Update:

1471527911_uber_self-driving-car
Uber’s modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicle.

see source

The autonomous cars, launching this summer, are custom Volvo XC90s, supervised by humans in the driver’s seat.

Near the end of 2014, Uber co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick flew to Pittsburgh on a mission: to hire dozens of the world’s experts in autonomous vehicles. The city is home to Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics department, which has produced many of the biggest names in the newly hot field. Sebastian Thrun, the creator of Google’s self-driving car project, spent seven years researching autonomous robots at CMU, and the project’s former director, Chris Urmson, was a CMU grad student.

“Travis had an idea that he wanted to do self-driving,” says John Bares, who had run CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center for 13 years before founding Carnegie Robotics, a Pittsburgh-based company that makes components for self-driving industrial robots used in mining, farming, and the military. “I turned him down three times. But the case was pretty compelling.” Bares joined Uber in January 2015 and by early 2016 had recruited hundreds of engineers, robotics experts, and even a few car mechanics to join the venture. The goal: to replace Uber’s more than 1 million human drivers with robot drivers—as quickly as possible.

The plan seemed audacious, even reckless. And according to most analysts, true self-driving cars are years or decades away. Kalanick begs to differ. “We are going commercial,” he says in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “This can’t just be about science.”

A self-driving Ford Fusion hybrid car is test driven in Pittsburgh. Uber said that passengers in Pittsburgh will be able to summon rides in self-driving cars in the next several weeks. Photograph: Jared Wickerham/AP.

Starting later this month, Uber will allow customers in downtown Pittsburgh to summon self-driving cars from their phones, crossing an important milestone that no automotive or technology company has yet achieved. Google, widely regarded as the leader in the field, has been testing its fleet for several years, and Tesla Motors offers Autopilot, essentially a souped-up cruise control that drives the car on the highway. Earlier this week, Ford announced plans for an autonomous ride-sharing service. But none of these companies has yet brought a self-driving car-sharing service to market.

Uber’s Pittsburgh fleet, which will be supervised by humans in the driver’s seat for the time being, consists of specially modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicles outfitted with dozens of sensors that use cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers. Volvo Cars has so far delivered a handful of vehicles out of a total of 100 due by the end of the year. The two companies signed a pact earlier this year to spend $300 million to develop a fully autonomous car that will be ready for the road by 2021.

The Volvo deal isn’t exclusive; Uber plans to partner with other automakers as it races to recruit more engineers. In July the company reached an agreement to buy Otto, a 91-employee driverless truck startup that was founded earlier this year and includes engineers from a number of high-profile tech companies attempting to bring driverless cars to market, including Google, Apple, and Tesla. Uber declined to disclose the terms of the arrangement, but a person familiar with the deal says that if targets are met, it would be worth 1 percent of Uber’s most recent valuation. That would imply a price of about $680 million. Otto’s current employees will also collectively receive 20 percent of any profits Uber earns from building an autonomous trucking business.

Otto has developed a kit that allows big-rig trucks to steer themselves on highways, in theory freeing up the driver to nap in the back of the cabin. The system is being tested on highways around San Francisco. Aspects of the technology will be incorporated into Uber’s robot livery cabs and will be used to start an Uber-like service for long-haul trucking in the U.S., building on the intracity delivery services, like Uber Eats, that the company already offers.

The Otto deal is a coup for Uber in its simmering battle with Google, which has been plotting its own ride-sharing service using self-driving cars. Otto’s founders were key members of Google’s operation who decamped in January, because, according to Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski, “We were really excited about building something that could be launched early.”

Volvo is expected to deliver a total of 100 specially modified SUVs to Uber by the end of the year.
Volvo is expected to deliver a total of 100 specially modified SUVs to Uber by the end of the year.

Near the end of 2014, Uber co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick flew to Pittsburgh on a mission: to hire dozens of the world’s experts in autonomous vehicles. The city is home to Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics department, which has produced many of the biggest names in the newly hot field. Sebastian Thrun, the creator of Google’s self-driving car project, spent seven years researching autonomous robots at CMU, and the project’s former director, Chris Urmson, was a CMU grad student.

“Travis had an idea that he wanted to do self-driving,” says John Bares, who had run CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center for 13 years before founding Carnegie Robotics, a Pittsburgh-based company that makes components for self-driving industrial robots used in mining, farming, and the military. “I turned him down three times. But the case was pretty compelling.” Bares joined Uber in January 2015 and by early 2016 had recruited hundreds of engineers, robotics experts, and even a few car mechanics to join the venture. The goal: to replace Uber’s more than 1 million human drivers with robot drivers—as quickly as possible.

The plan seemed audacious, even reckless. And according to most analysts, true self-driving cars are years or decades away. Kalanick begs to differ. “We are going commercial,” he says in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “This can’t just be about science.”

Starting later this month, Uber will allow customers in downtown Pittsburgh to summon self-driving cars from their phones, crossing an important milestone that no automotive or technology company has yet achieved. Google, widely regarded as the leader in the field, has been testing its fleet for several years, and Tesla Motors offers Autopilot, essentially a souped-up cruise control that drives the car on the highway. Earlier this week, Ford announced plans for an autonomous ride-sharing service. But none of these companies has yet brought a self-driving car-sharing service to market.

Uber’s Pittsburgh fleet, which will be supervised by humans in the driver’s seat for the time being, consists of specially modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicles outfitted with dozens of sensors that use cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers. Volvo Cars has so far delivered a handful of vehicles out of a total of 100 due by the end of the year. The two companies signed a pact earlier this year to spend $300 million to develop a fully autonomous car that will be ready for the road by 2021.

Uber. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Uber. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

The Volvo deal isn’t exclusive; Uber plans to partner with other automakers as it races to recruit more engineers. In July the company reached an agreement to buy Otto, a 91-employee driverless truck startup that was founded earlier this year and includes engineers from a number of high-profile tech companies attempting to bring driverless cars to market, including Google, Apple, and Tesla. Uber declined to disclose the terms of the arrangement, but a person familiar with the deal says that if targets are met, it would be worth 1 percent of Uber’s most recent valuation. That would imply a price of about $680 million. Otto’s current employees will also collectively receive 20 percent of any profits Uber earns from building an autonomous trucking business.

Otto has developed a kit that allows big-rig trucks to steer themselves on highways, in theory freeing up the driver to nap in the back of the cabin. The system is being tested on highways around San Francisco. Aspects of the technology will be incorporated into Uber’s robot livery cabs and will be used to start an Uber-like service for long-haul trucking in the U.S., building on the intracity delivery services, like Uber Eats, that the company already offers.

The Otto deal is a coup for Uber in its simmering battle with Google, which has been plotting its own ride-sharing service using self-driving cars. Otto’s founders were key members of Google’s operation who decamped in January, because, according to Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski, “We were really excited about building something that could be launched early.”

Volvo is expected to deliver a total of 100 specially modified SUVs to Uber by the end of the year.
Volvo is expected to deliver a total of 100 specially modified SUVs to Uber by the end of the year. Source: Courtesy Uber

Levandowski, one of the original engineers on the self-driving team at Google, started Otto with Lior Ron, who served as the head of product for Google Maps for five years; Claire Delaunay, a Google robotics lead; and Don Burnette, another veteran Google engineer. Google suffered another departure earlier this month when Urmson announced that he, too, was leaving.

“The minute it was clear to us that our friends in Mountain View were going to be getting in the ride-sharing space, we needed to make sure there is an alternative [self-driving car],” says Kalanick. “Because if there is not, we’re not going to have any business.” Developing an autonomous vehicle, he adds, “is basically existential for us.” (Google also invests in Uber through Alphabet’s venture capital division, GV.)

Unlike Google and Tesla, Uber has no intention of manufacturing its own cars, Kalanick says. Instead, the company will strike deals with auto manufacturers, starting with Volvo Cars, and will develop kits for other models. The Otto deal will help; the company makes its own laser detection, or lidar, system, used in many self-driving cars. Kalanick believes that Uber can use the data collected from its app, where human drivers and riders are logging roughly 100 million miles per day, to quickly improve its self-driving mapping and navigation systems. “Nobody has set up software that can reliably drive a car safely without a human,” Kalanick says. “We are focusing on that.”

In Pittsburgh, customers will request cars the normal way, via Uber’s app, and will be paired with a driverless car at random. Trips will be free for the time being, rather than the standard local rate of $1.05 per mile. In the long run, Kalanick says, prices will fall so low that the per-mile cost of travel, even for long trips in rural areas, will be cheaper in a driverless Uber than in a private car. “That could be seen as a threat,” says Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson. “We see it as an opportunity.”

Although Kalanick and other self-driving car advocates say the vehicles will ultimately save lives, they face harsh scrutiny for now. In July a driver using Tesla’s Autopilot service died after colliding with a tractor-trailer, apparently because both the driver and the car’s computers didn’t see it. (The crash is currently being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.) Google has seen a handful of accidents, but they’ve been less severe, in part because it limits its prototype cars to 25 miles per hour. Uber’s cars haven’t had any fender benders since they began road-testing in Pittsburgh in May, but at some point something will go wrong, according to Raffi Krikorian, the company’s engineering director. “We’re interacting with reality every day,” he says. “It’s coming.”

For now, Uber’s test cars travel with safety drivers, as common sense and the law dictate. These professionally trained engineers sit with their fingertips on the wheel, ready to take control if the car encounters an unexpected obstacle. A co-pilot, in the front passenger seat, takes notes on a laptop, and everything that happens is recorded by cameras inside and outside the car so that any glitches can be ironed out. Each car is also equipped with a tablet computer in the back seat, designed to tell riders that they’re in an autonomous car and to explain what’s happening. “The goal is to wean us off of having drivers in the car, so we don’t want the public talking to our safety drivers,” Krikorian says.

On a recent weekday test drive, the safety drivers were still an essential part of the experience, as Uber’s autonomous car briefly turned un-autonomous, while crossing the Allegheny River. A chime sounded, a signal to the driver to take the wheel. A second ding a few seconds later indicated that the car was back under computer control. “Bridges are really hard,” Krikorian says. “And there are like 500 bridges in Pittsburgh.”

Bridges are hard in part because of the way that Uber’s system works. Over the past year and a half, the company has been creating extremely detailed maps that include not just roads and lane markings, but also buildings, potholes, parked cars, fire hydrants, traffic lights, trees, and anything else on Pittsburgh’s streets. As the car moves, it collects data, and then using a large, liquid-cooled computer in the trunk, it compares what it sees with the preexisting maps to identify (and avoid) pedestrians, cyclists, stray dogs, and anything else. Bridges, unlike normal streets, offer few environmental cues—there are no buildings, for instance—making it hard for the car to figure out exactly where it is. Uber cars have Global Positioning System sensors, but those are only accurate within about 10 feet; Uber’s systems strive for accuracy down to the inch.

When the Otto acquisition closes, likely this month, Otto co-founder Levandowski will assume leadership of Uber’s driverless car operation, while continuing to oversee his company’s robotic trucking business. The plan is to open two additional Uber R&D centers, one in the Otto office, a cavernous garage in San Francisco’s Soma neighborhood, a second in Palo Alto. “I feel like we’re brothers from another mother,” Kalanick says of Levandowski.

Uber started in San Francisco, California, USA. Uber was founded as "UberCab" by Travis Kalanick (current CEO) and Garrett Camp in 2009 and the app was released the following June. Beginning in 2012, Uber expanded internationally. In 2014, it experimented with carpooling features and made other updates. In October 2015 it was said that Uber's worth was $51 Billion, however Aswath Damodaran, professor at NYU Stern School of Business and a valuation expert, values the ride-hailing company at $23.4 billion, less than half its current sticker. Uber is busy in the courts and fighting off growing competition.
Uber started in San Francisco, California, USA. Uber was founded as “UberCab” by Travis Kalanick (current CEO) and Garrett Camp in 2009 and the app was released the following June. Beginning in 2012, Uber expanded internationally. In 2014, it experimented with carpooling features and made other updates. In October 2015 it was said that Uber’s worth was $51 Billion, however Aswath Damodaran, professor at NYU Stern School of Business and a valuation expert, values the ride-hailing company at $23.4 billion, less than half its current sticker. Uber is busy in the courts and fighting off growing competition. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

The two men first met at the TED conference in 2012, when Levandowski was showing off an early version of Google’s self-driving car. Kalanick offered to buy 20 of the prototypes on the spot—“It seemed like the obvious next step,” he says with a laugh—before Levandowski broke the bad news to him. The cars were running on a loop in a closed course with no pedestrians; they wouldn’t be safe outside the TED parking lot. “It was like a roller coaster with no track,” Levandowski explains. “If you were to step in front of the vehicle, it would have just run you over.”

Kalanick began courting Levandowski this spring, broaching the possibility of an acquisition during a series of 10-mile night walks from the Soma neighborhood where Uber is also headquartered to the Golden Gate Bridge. The two men would leave their offices separately—to avoid being seen by employees, the press, or competitors. They’d grab takeout food, then rendezvous near the city’s Ferry Building. Levandowski says he saw a union as a way to bring the company’s trucks to market faster.

For his part, Kalanick sees it as a way to further corner the market for autonomous driving engineers. “If Uber wants to catch up to Google and be the leader in autonomy, we have to have the best minds,” he says, and then clarifies: “We have to have all the great minds.”

It's only fair to share...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on RedditEmail to someone

Ottawa’s New Air-Travel Policy Catches Dual Citizens by Surprise

Update:

Canada's Passport. Air carriers are obligated by law to confirm that all persons seeking to travel to Canada carry both proof of citizenship and proof of identity. A valid Canadian passport satisfies these requirements for Canadian citizens, and is the only acceptable travel document for the purpose of air travel.
Canada’s Passport. Air carriers are obligated by law to confirm that all persons seeking to travel to Canada carry both proof of citizenship and proof of identity. A valid Canadian passport satisfies these requirements for Canadian citizens, and is the only acceptable travel document for the purpose of air travel.

see source

Starting on September 30, Canadians with dual citizenships must use their Canadian passport to travel back to Canada by air. The new rule is being denounced as a cash grab.

Canadian citizens with dual citizenships will soon be allowed to fly into the country only if they have a Canadian passport.

The policy will come into effect Sept. 30 as a final phase of Canada’s move to an electronic screening system to step up border security and boost exit control of travellers, including Canadians on government benefits.

Veteran pilot Capt. Ian Smith says laser attacks on planes typically happen when an aircraft is landing or taking off, the two most critical times during a flight. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Jet. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

The upcoming requirement has caught many by surprise calling the practice “discriminatory” against dual citizens and a money grab, and is expected to create havoc as travellers with dual Canadian citizenships may find out only at the last minute when trying to board on a flight.

“What is changing is that the Government of Canada is implementing a new electronic system to assist airlines in verifying that all travellers have the appropriate documents to travel to or transit through Canada by air,” Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada spokesperson Lindsay Wemp told the Star.

“Air carriers are obligated by law to confirm that all persons seeking to travel to Canada carry both proof of citizenship and proof of identity. A valid Canadian passport satisfies these requirements for Canadian citizens, and is the only acceptable travel document for the purpose of air travel.”

Currently, Canadian citizens with dual citizenships can use the passport of the other country to enter Canada by air if they can provide proofs of residency in Canada, such as a driver’s licence and Canadian citizenship card.

According to the 2011 Census, at least 2.9 per cent of Canadians — 944,700 people — had multiple citizenships; the most frequently reported other citizenships were the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Poland.

Ottawa rolled out the electronic travel authorization, or eTA, system last year, requiring air passengers — including all applicants for study and work permits, as well as those from countries that currently do not require a visa to come to Canada — to submit their biographic, passport and other personal information through the immigration department website for prescreening or face being denied entry. American citizens are exempted.

Airline pilots must have their health and safety respected at all times. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Jet descending in the sky. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

However, Canadian citizens will be ineligible for eTA of Sept. 30, because they will be expected to carry their Canadian passports which, by default, bar dual citizens from using the passport of the other country to return to Canada. What baffles several observers about the new rule is that it only applies to air passengers.

“This proposed policy change is discriminatory to dual citizens and for the life of me, I cannot see why it is necessary. It would appear to be a money grab with no benefit and huge inconvenience for any of us who live overseas,” said Craig Campbell, 60, who was born to a military family in Manitoba and is a dual Canadian-Australian citizen.

“There is time to fix this appalling discriminatory policy. I served the country of my birth as did my father, uncles, aunts and grandfather before me. This is simply a shameful way to treat one very small category of proud Canadians for no discernible benefit to the country.”

Calgary-born Carey Du Gray, 45, who has lived in the U.K. since 2009, said he only found out about the new requirement when he was trying to book travel two weeks ago to fly home in October.

“My daughters were born in the U.K., but they are Canadian citizens. They would not be able to travel to Canada using their British passports. What lunacy, eh?” asked Du Gray, a fundraising consultant based in London.

“What followed was a 48-hour scramble to get all of the documentation and photos together. The guidance on the (Canadian) website said they were taking up to 40 business days to process new passport applications on account of the flood of them that are coming in ahead of the policy change.”

Canadian expatriate Sandi Logan, who worked in the Australian immigration department, said the requirement on dual citizens’ travel just doesn’t make sense.

“It’s bad policy on so many fronts. It discriminates against dual citizens of Canada for starters. It discriminates against dual citizens of Canada flying into any Canadian port, as opposed to arriving by sea or land,” said Logan, 59, who was born and raised in Toronto before settling in Australia in 1980.

“From my vast bureaucratic experience in the public service, it has all of the hallmarks of being a simple revenue grab masked as ‘border security,’ with no discernible impact on safe and stronger borders.”

(It currently costs $120 for a five-year Canadian adult passport and $160 for one that lasts for 10 years.)

Wemp said the federal government is doing everything it can to raise awareness among dual Canadian citizens about the importance of travelling using a valid Canadian passport.

A handout has been distributed at airports of entry, along with a media and social-media blitz via Canadian overseas missions since March of this year. Global Affairs Canada officials have also notified registered Canadian citizens abroad of the upcoming change by email and through their websites.

“All Canadian citizens have a Charter-protected right to enter Canada. Canadian law requires that all persons entering Canada carry both proof of citizenship and proof of identity,” said Wemp.

“A Canadian passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel and identification document available to Canadians for the purpose of international travel. As the government does not want Canadians to face travel-related delays, we strongly encourage all Canadian citizens to travel using a valid Canadian passport.”

It's only fair to share...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on RedditEmail to someone

Toronto grants Uber first-ever Canadian licence to operate

Update: see previous post – April 6, 2016 Toronto: To Announce New Regulations for Taxi’s & UberX

Uber. The City of Toronto has issued a licence to Uber as the first private transportation company to operate in the city. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Uber. The City of Toronto has issued a licence to Uber as the first private transportation company to operate in the city. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

see source

A group of taxi drivers says it will demonstrate starting around 7 a.m. Wednesday at the city’s licensing office at the East York Civic Centre.

A planned protest by a group of taxi workers Wednesday will proceed despite a late-afternoon announcement that the city has now licensed Uber as the first private transportation company in Toronto under new regulations.

It’s the first time that Uber has been issued a vehicle-for-hire licence in Canada, as North American cities continue to grapple with how to manage the disruptive technology that has threatened the business of traditional taxi companies.

Licensing for the app-based ride-hailing service, which was made official Tuesday afternoon, comes after a protracted council battle that saw a new bylaw passed in May. That bylaw, which dictates a new licensing regime that incorporates companies like Uber, came into force July 15.

“Within a month of the bylaw taking effect we have been successful in process change, technology change and we’ve now issued the license to Uber and we’re going forward from here,” the city’s executive director for licensing, Tracey Cook, told reporters at city hall Tuesday.

Row of taxis lined up at a stop sign on Edward St. at Yonge St. in Toronto. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

The city will now screen UberX drivers — who use their personal cars to ferry passengers at fares cheaper than those of traditional taxis — and provide them with a separate private transportation company driver licence.

“The goal at this point is to have those drivers licensed by the end of September, if not sooner,” Cook said.

But the taxi industry considered July 15 a deadline and says delays in implementing new licences has meant UberX drivers have continued to be on the roads unlawfully for a month.

City Taxi’s Paul Sekhon, part of United Taxi Workers Association of the GTA which organized the protest, told the Star they’re going ahead with their plans.

The group plans to demonstrate starting around 7 a.m. on Wednesday at the city’s licensing office at the East York Civic Centre on Coxwell Ave.

Toronto police warn that a group of cab drivers has been swiping riders' bank cards as they pay — and then driving straight to ATM machines to empty bank accounts before victims even realize what's happened. Dozens of cab riders have been victimized across the city in recent weeks and the crimes are continuing daily, the lead investigator in the case said Friday.
taxis waiting at a taxi stand. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

“We’re still going ahead with the protest 100 per cent,” Sekhon said. “You’re putting 10,000 lives in jeopardy over here because you don’t want to do it by the schedule . . . There’s no law and order for these people.”

Cook said her staff have been working “diligently” behind-the-scenes to implement the new system, which will see the city review some 12,000 applications for driver’s licences from Uber alone — which includes a criminal background check and insurance for at least $2 million in liabilities. There are currently no other companies licensed under the new rules.

Toronto Taxi's lined up at hotel taxi stand. Toronto politicians and taxi industry spokespeople hope that a reduced fare will make hiring a taxi an easier option for passengers.
Row of taxis at a cab stand at a downtown Toronto hotel. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

The city will enforce the new rules, Cook said, with plans to hire 12 new members of the enforcement team.

She denied there have been delays, with the rollout of changes under the new rules starting July 15.

Cook said Uber has co-operated with new rules, including removing vehicles from their platform that are more than seven years old. “They’ve seen a reduction of about 30 per cent of their driver base,” Cook said.

Will the new regulations allow for UberX vehicles to share the Toronto HOV lanes with the T.T.C. and Taxis? photo by fightyourtickets.ca

She said other aspects of the bylaw, which relaxes rules for the taxi industry, have already been implemented, including taxis being allowed to set cheaper fares through their own mobile apps.

Not everyone within the often fractured taxi industry agrees with the demonstration planned for Wednesday.

The Toronto Taxi Alliance, which represents brokerages like Beck Taxi, has said while they share the drivers’ frustration about Uber, any disruption upsets Torontonians — the people they are trying to maintain as passengers.

“I have a lot of respect for the taxi industry. They’re upset, it’s a period if transformation,” Cook said Tuesday. “They have a right to do what it is they want to do. It’s unfortunate. I would really rather see the taxi cab industry work on delivering quality customer service to the people that use their service instead of protesting.”

It's only fair to share...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on RedditEmail to someone