Driver killed July 8 in Newfoundland and Labrador after metal shrapnel exploded into the car
Transport Canada says it is investigating the first recorded case in the country of a fatality involving a ruptured driver-side airbag inflator.
Authorities say the driver of a 2009 Hyundai Elantra in Newfoundland and Labrador involved in a two-vehicle collision was killed on July 8 when the airbag inflator exploded and fired metal shrapnel into the passenger compartment of the car.
“The incident was a low-speed collision, which was expected to be survivable,” a Transport Canada spokesman said in an emailed statement.
The ruptured inflator was manufactured by ARC Automotive Inc., a company based in Knoxville, Tenn., and is not related to recent Takata airbag inflator failures, Transport Canada said in a news release Thursday.
The cause of the ARC inflator rupture has not been determined, the federal government department said.
“Should a safety defect be found, owners will be notified,” Transport Canada said.
Two previous incidents involving ARC inflator ruptures occurred in the United States, both causing serious injuries.
Transport Canada said ARC is co-operating with investigators, and that Ottawa is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States on the issue.
The Associated Press reported that about eight million inflators built by ARC are under scrutiny, mainly in older vehicles made by GM, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai and Kia.
U.S. government investigators started looking at ARC inflators in July 2015, following reports that an Ohio woman was injured when her 2002 Chrysler Town & Country minivan crashed and the inflator ruptured. Separately, another person was reported injured in an inflator rupture involving a 2004 Kia Optima.
NHTSA said the Elantra involved in the crash in Newfoundland and Labrador had an ARC inflator made in China.
The probe of ARC inflators differs from the larger recall of 69 million inflators in the U.S. produced by Takata Corp. Several automakers in Canada have announced recalls of vehicles equipped with Takata inflators.
In the Takata case, explosive ammonium nitrate is used to inflate the airbags. However, over time the chemical can degrade, burn too quickly and blow up metal inflator cannisters.
Ammonium nitrate is also used in ARC inflators, but investigators are looking into whether a blocked vent can leave the gas with no place to go, leading to a pressure buildup and a rupture of the inflator assembly.
Drug charges dismissed against young white female driver and her black boyfriend, but woman calls experience depressing and says her boyfriend’s basketball career is ruined.
Pulled over by a Durham Regional Police officer on a September afternoon, her nearly 7-foot-tall boyfriend in the passenger seat, Beverly O’Grady instantly suspected the real reason for the traffic stop.
She wasn’t speeding, she wasn’t driving erratically, there were no road safety concerns that would justify a stop under the Highway Traffic Act — all of which the officer, Const. John MacKinnon, later acknowledged in court.
The reason for the traffic stop, O’Grady believed, was because she has light skin, and her boyfriend — Jeffrey Ferguson-Cadore, a past member of Canada’s national basketball team — is black.
“I knew right away,” said O’Grady, 32, in an exclusive interview Wednesday. “Right away.”
In a straight-shooting ruling tossing the drug charges laid against O’Grady and Ferguson-Cadore that resulted from the traffic stop, Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Charney came to the same conclusion, finding MacKinnon had no legitimate reason to pull the car over and was instead racially profiling the occupants.
“The police officer’s initial suspicions and concerns for the safety of the young white female were based on the fact that she was seen in the company of a black male,” Charney wrote. “There was really nothing more to it than that.”
O’Grady is relieved after Charney’s ruling, but said it doesn’t take away the depressing result of the experience.
“Now, I don’t even feel comfortable driving with a black man in my car. It’s sad,” she said.
In an email Wednesday, Durham Regional Police spokesperson Dave Selby said the service is aware of Charney’s ruling and is reviewing it. MacKinnon could not immediately be reached for comment.
The ruling stems from a September 2014 traffic stop, when MacKinnon was nearing the end of his shift and noticed a silver sedan leaving the parking lot of a Whitby motel.
Formerly with the vice squad, MacKinnon later testified that he knew the motel was frequented by escorts and their pimps, and noted the “young-looking white female” in the front with a black male. He said he was concerned for her safety, believing it was possible she was a prostitute in the company of her pimp.
MacKinnon began following the car and ran the licence plate information, finding the car was registered to a woman born in 1965. He turned the sirens on and pulled over the vehicle.
In his arrest report, the officer provided two reasons for the stop: he was suspicious because the occupants of the car didn’t align with the age of the registered owner, and he had concerns for the young female driver exiting an area known for prostitution.
According to the judge’s version of events, after pulling over the car, MacKinnon asked O’Grady to step out of the car then asked her if she was an escort — and whether he would find her photo in “Backpage,” a website that has ads for escorts.
“I’m like, what? What is Backpage?” O’Grady told the Star Wednesday, recalling MacKinnon’s question. “I was shocked. I was confused.”
The officer asked her why she was coming out of the motel, and she explained that she and her boyfriend — her passenger — were planning a party and were checking out the motel as a place for out-of-town friends to stay. When asked whose car she was driving, O’Grady explained that it belonged to her mother.
According the judge’s summary of facts, MacKinnon commented that he could smell marijuana coming from the car, called for backup, then police searched the vehicle, ultimately finding a digital scale with white residue believed to be cocaine, 10 tabs of Oxycocet, seven grams of powder cocaine, 4.3 grams of crack cocaine and 25.2 grams of marijuana.
Both O’Grady and Ferguson-Cadore were arrested and jointly charged with four counts of possessing controlled substances for the purposes of trafficking.
The couple mounted a charter challenge to exclude the drug evidence found against them, arguing their rights were violated because they were arbitrarily detained and the officer did not have reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence was being committed.
Charney agreed, finding there were “serious” charter violations by police, with significant negative impacts on O’Grady and Ferguson-Cadore. Calling it a “selective” stop, Charney found there was no legitimate reason to stop the car.
The judge questioned why MacKinnon would have found it suspicious that the driver of the car was likely not the same person registered as the owner, since family members frequently share the same car.
“There is nothing illegal, unusual or suspicious about a driver not matching the description of a registered owner,” Charney wrote.
Charney excluded the drug evidence obtained from the search of the vehicle, and the charges against O’Grady and Ferguson-Cadore were dismissed.
In an email to the Star, Jonathan Pyzer, O’Grady’s lawyer, called the judge’s ruling significant, since court findings of racial profiling are historically rare — “despite our clients reporting them as commonplace.”
“It is also significant that as a white woman, Ms. O’Grady was found to be the victim of racial profiling as part of a biracial couple. It is an important statement that racial profiling very much exists in our society today, whether consciously or subconsciously, and that neither will be tolerated by our Courts.”
O’Grady said the case has negatively affected her boyfriend’s future in basketball. Once a player for professional teams in Japan and Iran, she said the charges against him prevented him from travelling. “This whole case ruined his career,” she said.
Ferguson-Cadore could not be reached for comment Wednesday. His lawyer, Paul Aubin, could also not be reached.
Ottawa says it wasn’t consulted on province’s decision to change cards
Ontario’s decision to issue gender-neutral health cards is making it more difficult for some of the province’s residents to get a passport, since the federal government wasn’t consulted on the switch.
Hamilton native Rachael Bestard found that out the hard way when she applied for a passport this week.
Bestard, 24, is going to Europe in October — she hopes — which would be her first trip out of the country since she was a child. That’s when she last had a passport.
She went through the usual motions — getting guarantor signatures and passport photos and finding her birth certificate. The other required documentation is government-issued photo ID that includes her name, date of birth and sex.
Bestard doesn’t have a driver’s licence, so she planned to use her Ontario health card.
She applied for a new one on June 24, but when it arrived, the card didn’t have her gender on it — and because of that, her passport application was rejected.
“I was quite surprised,” she told CBC News. “I’ve been a female for 24 years, so it does feel a little strange.”
Her headache is about to become all too real for some Ontarians. The province announced in June that it will start issuing health cards that no longer display information about a person’s gender on the front of the card.
Changes made to be fair and equitable, province says
Beginning in early 2017, drivers will also have the option on their licences to select X, instead of an M for male or F for female.
The province’s Liberal government said it is making the changes “to ensure the fair, ethical and equitable treatment of people with trans and non-binary gender identity.”
Bestard maintains this is a positive step for non-binary people, and one that she has absolutely no problem with. “I do understand the nuances of the LGBTQ community, and the challenges they face,” she said.
The issue, she says, is the headache that has been created by the two levels of government not working together.
“The lack of communication is quite surprising,” she said.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada spokesperson Lindsay Wemp told CBC News that “IRCC was not consulted as part of this initiative from the government of Ontario.”
Christine Burke, spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, says ServiceOntario has been working with the federal government to address this situation.
“No consultations took place with the federal government prior to the change, as we were unaware that the photo health card was being used and accepted as an identity document by Passport Canada,” she said in an email.
Kwok Wong, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, told CBC News that the ability to just mark an X for gender on an Ontario licence complies with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards for machine-readable official travel documents.
“In various other countries, X is used in place of M or F when gender is not specified,” he said in an email.
“Ministry of Transportation officials discussed this proposal with the federal government counterparts including Passport Canada and Canada Border Service Agency.”
It appears that a licence marked with an X would not be able to be used to obtain a passport, as proof of gender is still one of the requirements.
Change also affects children
Bestard said she has been told by the province that if she is reissued a receipt for her temporary health card, that should have her gender on it, and that would be accepted on a passport application. She said that “seemed like news to the passport office,” so it remains to be seen if that stopgap measure will work.
“IRCC has recently been in contact with Service Ontario about the message that their staff may use when they receive calls from individuals asking about how the changes to the OHIP card impact them getting a Canadian passport,” Wemp said.
Bestard’s other option is an Ontario photo card, which costs $35 and would take four to six weeks to arrive by mail.
Toronto mom Jennifer Moore is trying to renew passports for her 16 &17-year-old children and is running into the same problem, as they both have the new Ontario health card that doesn’t list if they are male or female.
“If my children are forced to obtain an Ontario photo card for the purpose of obtaining a passport, I think this should be provided at no cost to them, since Ontario has unilaterally removed a key piece of information from the health card which has created this situation,” she wrote in a letter to her MP and MPP, which she provided to CBC News. “This will also create a significant delay in the passport application process, since they will first have to wait for the Ontario ID card to be issued and approved.”
“The Passport Canada ID requirements are discriminatory toward Canadian citizens who do not drive and who do not have any other need for an Ontario photo card.”
Ontario Adding Travel Options to Help Manage Congestion
Permit applications for Canada’s first High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes can be submitted online at Ontario.ca/HOTLanesfrom Aug. 1 to Aug. 21. HOT lanes improve traffic flow, maximize highway capacity, and help to manage congestion.
The pilot project begins Sept. 15, 2016, when the existing High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on the QEW will be designated as HOT lanes. Single occupant drivers will have the option to apply for an HOT permit, while carpools of two or more will still be able to use these lanes for free. A limited number of applicants will be selected to purchase permits through a draw. Permits cost $180 for a three-month term and are renewable for a maximum of two terms.
Ontario issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking innovative technologies to support tolling, compliance and performance monitoring of HOT lanes. The RFI closes on Aug. 22, 2016, and supports Ontario’s innovation sector by providing an opportunity to test emerging traffic management and tolling technologies.
Ontario is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history — about $160 billion over 12 years, which is supporting 110,000 jobs every year across the province, with projects such as hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit. Since 2015, the province has announced support for more than 475 projects that will keep people and goods moving, connect communities and improve quality of life. To learn more about infrastructure projects in your community, go to Ontario.ca/BuildON.
Investing in new travel options and supporting innovation is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario’s history and is investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.
Up to 1,000 HOT permits will be made available for each three-month term, beginning with approximately 500 permits in the first term.
For the first term only, permits will be valid from Sept. 15 to Dec. 31, 2016, giving permit holders an additional two weeks of HOT lane use as an early incentive bonus.
A 15.5 km stretch of dedicated HOT lanes with electronic tolling in both directions on Highway 427 will open in 2021, from south of Highway 409 to north of Rutherford Road.
HOT lanes will complement other initiatives, such as GO Regional Express Rail that will increase GO train trips by 50 per cent over the next five years with more stops serving more communities.