Egan: Uber driver calls posting Ottawa Senators video 'dumbest decision' of his life - Canadanewsmedia
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Egan: Uber driver calls posting Ottawa Senators video 'dumbest decision' of his life



The Uber driver who recorded several Ottawa Senators players and posted the video online says he’s been fired from his job after making “the dumbest decision” of his life.

James Sparklin was behind the wheel the night seven Senators players climbed into his Toyota Sienna van in Phoenix.

His recording of that Oct. 29 trip has sparked a firestorm over the violation of the players’ privacy — and also over the recorded comments, in which the Senators joked about their own team’s struggles and criticized one of their coaches.


Sparklin on Thursday said in an interview he had been aggravated by something that happened early in the trip that centred on how many passengers he would be taking in his van.

Without being specific about the incident, Sparklin said he had not been prepared for seven passengers at pickup and that he was worried his $1-million liability coverage would not be enough protection in case of an accident.

In a 20-minute phone conversation, Sparklin, a driver for 2 1/2 years and father of six, was clearly distraught, at one point sobbing.

After stewing over the episode with the players over the course of the evening — it was the day before the Sens took on the Coyotes — Sparklin said he posted part of the video on YouTube in an intoxicated state. “I was not in the right state of mind.”

He said his intention was to show other drivers the behaviour of the high-priced athletes, none of whom he knew or recognized, having attended one NHL game in his life.

“You get a bunch of guys together and they’ll typically be guys,” he said, by way of partial explanation of the incident at the start of the ride.

“They wanted to stay together.”

The decision to transport seven highly paid professional athletes, he said, “put me at high risk.”

A screen grab from the video.

Screen grab /


“What really upset me the most was, if I were to get in an accident, I don’t believe the insurance would cover it. The million-dollar policy would go very fast.”

Once the video went up, he said it had about 100 or so views before he was contacted and told to take it down, which he did. Beforehand, however, Sparklin had also tweeted about it.


He tried to explain his position to Uber but was told he had violated the terms of service. “I’m in Arizona, so you can fire someone for the colour of their shoes.”

He said he was surprised at the level of candour from the players during the ride. “I think when you see that video, it’s kind of shocking. I’m just not accustomed to that kind of language and how they’re talking in that kind of atmosphere.”

Sparklin sounded remorseful for posting the segment.

“I didn’t think about my actions at all. I wasn’t trying to get money or anything like that. I got contacted and took it down right away.”

He said he had put the camera in his vehicle for his own protection. A few weeks ago, he said he was involved in an accident near the Phoenix airport in which a 19-year-old motorist caused $11,000 in damage to his vehicle. Since then, he’s made it a habit of running the camera while he’s working, he said.

There is no warning inside the vehicle that passengers are being recorded, he said, but nor is there a requirement in Arizona to do so. He said Uber encourages the use of cameras for drivers’ protection.

Sparklin is now worried about his name becoming public and the effect on his family.

“I’m worried about my name getting out. My life being ruined and my children.”

The video caused a sensation in the Senators’ world and the broader NHL community. Not only was it a rarely seen moment of candour between young players, but it called into question the degree to which the team has successfully rebuilt the dressing room “culture” after the tortured departures of captain Erik Karlsson and top scorer Mike Hoffman.


It also raised issues around the effectiveness of coaching techniques, as team leader Matt Duchene is recorded saying he had stopped listening to special-teams coach Martin Raymond — a confidante of coach Guy Boucher — “three weeks ago.”

All seven players have apologized for their conduct.

Many have rallied to the players’ defence, including Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s former privacy commissioner and one of Canada’s leading experts on privacy law, who has said she was “appalled” by the recording, which she called “total unwarranted surveillance.”

Arizona is a “one-party consent” state when it comes to privacy, meaning that conversations can be recorded if one person “who is present during the communication” gives their OK.

The Senators said they had moved quickly to deal with the matter internally once they became aware of the video.

After the video came to light publicly, alternate captain Mark Stone said the team had “dealt with this long before this video was released.”

The team issued a statement this week saying it felt that, by taping and posting this conversation on the internet, the Uber driver had breached the players’ privacy.

Boucher added in that statement that the Senators had “every confidence in Marty Raymond’s coaching; in the effort and determination of our team; and in the sincerity of our players’ apology.”

Ryan Dzingel and assistant coach Martin Raymond.

Jean Levac /

Postmedia News

To contact Kelly Egan, please call 613-726-5896 or email

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Longtime public voice of the TTC stepping down to take role with city




Chris Fox,</span>

Published Wednesday, November 14, 2018 10:17AM EST

Last Updated Wednesday, November 14, 2018 10:51AM EST

The longtime public voice of the TTC is stepping aside to take on a newly-created role with the city.

Brad Ross announced on Wednesday morning that he will step down as the TTC’s executive director of corporate communications in order to become the new Chief Communications Officer for the City of Toronto.

His last day on the job at the TTC will be Dec. 14 and his first day on the job at the city will be Jan. 7.

“As a teenager from Scarborough, I took the TTC everywhere – school, part-time jobs, concerts, the mall, Yonge St. pinball arcades. It was a lifeline. It’s crazy to me that a few decades later I became the TTC’s go-to for public explanations,” Ross said in a series of messages posted to Twitter. “It has been a humbling experience to play that role. I’ll miss it.”

Ross first joined the TTC back in 2008 after spending eight years as the manager of media relations and issues management at the city.

While at the TTC Ross became a familiar voice and was often thrust into the spotlight at trying times as he was called on to offer up explanations for subway delays, overcrowding issues and a myriad of other controversies that popped up from time to time.

He also gained a loyal following on Twitter, where he shared updates on issues affecting commuters  with his 30,000 followers and even offered the occasional joke. When someone placed their live crabs on a subway seat this past spring, Ross quipped that it was “shellfish behaviour.”

In a series of messages posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Ross said that he is “proud” to have played a part in what he called the “daily miracle” of getting Torontonians to where they need to go.

He said that the city is lucky to have “incredibly smart and good people leading the TTC,” something that he said will continue to be the case.

“From operators to stations staff to planners to special constables to HR professionals to mechanics and especially to my colleagues in comms, a very big thank you,” he said.

According to a news release from the city, Ross will be “responsible for communicating the overall strategic direction for the City of Toronto, as well as making sure the public clearly understands council’s priorities and how to access city programs and services.”

The city says that Ross was selected for the new role following a “comprehensive search.”

“Brad brings a wealth of experience to lead our professional communications staff in the development of internal and external communications strategies, public education campaigns, digital outreach and more,” City Manager Chris Murray said in the news release. “He is a champion of best practices, has deep relationships with the media, can capably manage emerging situations and will be a great steward of the city’s brand. I’m elated to have him return to the city in this key leadership role."

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2 teens arrested in death of 17-year-old from Nuns' Island




Montreal police have arrested two teens, a boy and a girl, in connection with the death of a 17-year-old, whose body was found in a wooded area on Nuns' Island earlier this week.

The two teens, who are also 17, are expected to appear in youth court in Montreal later today. They are expected to face charges of armed robbery and second-degree murder.

It's unclear if the suspects knew the victim or not. The teen's death is the 27th homicide in Montreal this year. 

Police initially said they believed his death was an accident. A passerby found his body Monday morning. 

Tuesday evening, they revealed his death was a homicide and that he had been stabbed in the lower body.

The investigation was transferred to Montreal police's major crimes unit and the suspects were arrested later Tuesday evening. 

A Nuns' Island Islamic community centre created an online fundraiser to help the victim's mother with funeral costs. It is also holding a gathering in his honour Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Al Jazira Islamic Centre.

He lived in Nuns' Island and worked at the local Tim Hortons and IGA grocery store while studying in CEGEP, according to community members who knew him. 

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Don't call it a party: Graydon Pelley walks away from PCs, starting new political group




Graydon Pelley is walking away from the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador and starting a new political party, with the goal of forming the provincial government in the 2019 election. 

Graydon Pelley has resigned as president of Newfoundland and Labrador's PCs. (Graydon Pelley/Twitter)

"Over the last little while I feel that we are not seeing that move toward real change that people want," Pelley told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

"I feel people are fed up with the way that party politics is operating in our province."

The now former president of the PC Party is calling the new party NL Alliance, and Pelley is seeking the required number of people to join him to officially register for the 2019 ballot. 

According to Elections Newfoundland and Labrador, before a political party can be registered, it must:

  • Submit an application.
  • Submit a signed petition with a minimum of 1,000 names of eligible electors that can attest to the existence of the political party.
  • Appoint both a chief financial officer (CFO) and auditor.
  • Provide a mandatory audited statement of the assets and liabilities as of a date not earlier than 90 days prior to the date of application for registration and attested to by the CFO.

A party is not an officially registered party until the chief electoral officer has approved the application.

Political parties in the province have lost focus on representing the people, according to Pelley. Ideas, regardless of whether they are good or bad, will by default be argued against by an opposing party, he said.  

"That needs to change and we need to focus on the people." 

No animosity, just change

Pelley said he's staying away from the word "party" in his new political adventure. He said he hasn't had a falling out with any party in particular, but just wants to see change in politics in the province.

Pelley says his plan is to have NL Alliance on the ballot for the next election. (CBC)

"Change has to start somewhere, and I believe that change has to start with somebody who's out there, who's involved with people, who's very community oriented, who has no hidden agendas, no hidden interests in getting involved in politics," he said.

According to Pelley, he would like to be an elected member to the new party and to sit in the House of Assembly, but he's just as content with starting the party and working behind the scenes.

"It's not about me. It's about the people of the province," he said. 

"I'm certainly willing to do whatever my role would be to make to make this work, and to better the province of Newfoundland and Labrador."

With files from the St. John's Morning Show

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador     

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