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B.C. shop owner 'surprised' he's in guide that colour codes businesses to support Hong Kong protests – CBC.ca

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The entrance of a tea shop that has been turned into a ‘Lennon Wall’ of pro-protest notes in Hong Kong, in this Thursday photo. Stores that openly support Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest movement are nicknamed ‘yellow shops.’ (Mark Schiefelbein/The Associated Press)

Alan Yu runs an auto repair shop in northern Richmond, B.C. Last month, Yu discovered his business was caught up in a political debate that is raging across the Pacific.

A Facebook group published a crowdsourced list that categorizes his eight-year-old business as “yellow,” meaning he supports the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

Yu said he was “surprised” but happy that his business had been identified as one that supports the protesters, who since last spring have staged massive demonstrations calling for political change in Hong Kong. 

“If the people like it, I can put the Lennon Wall in my office,” he said, referring to a space for Post-it notes written with solidarity messages for the protesters thousands of kilometres away.

Yellow vs. blue shops 

In Hong Kong, people who sympathize with pro-democracy movements call themselves “yellow ribbons.” Those who support the Chinese government and the police’s use of force on protesters call themselves “blue ribbons.”

The idea to form a “yellow economic circle” originates from a protest slogan being circulated on a Hong Kong discussion forum: “Boycott the blue businesses, shop at the yellow businesses.” 

The Canada Hongkonger page, liked by nearly 13,000 users, has been inviting Metro Vancouver “netizens” (politically conscious people using the internet) to report which local shop is yellow, blue or green (meaning political neutrality).

Alan Yu owns a Richmond, B.C., auto repair shop that a crowdsourced shopping guide has identified as being a yellow business. (Salimah Shivji/CBC)

The 46-year-old immigrated to Canada several months before the former British colony was reversed to China in 1997. He said the yellow solidarity campaign may have the same impact of pro-democrats’ landslide victory in the district council elections: “Maybe the Chinese government will try to adjust something for the Hong Kong people.”

‘Yellow’ means corporate responsibility

Albert Chan was a pro-democratic district councillor and legislative councillor in Hong Kong for three decades before moving back to Vancouver two years ago. He praised Yu for participating in the developing “yellow economic circle” for the Lower Mainland.

The 64-year-old said being a yellow business is a matter of corporate responsibility and social conscience: “If you can support a government killing people without reasons, that reflects your values. With people holding those values, how can you trust them to run a business?”

Former Hong Kong lawmaker Albert Chan supports the ‘yellow economic circle’ in Vancouver. (CBC)

The retired politician said Hong Kong is being economically controlled by Beijing and yellow shopping is to terminate this situation. He said Canadians should also buy yellow because of what he called the “alarming” Chinese infiltration into their way of life, citing B.C. seniors’ homes failed care standards after takeover by a Chinese government-controlled company.

“If the Trudeau government refuses to do anything to control that, sooner or later Canada will become a colony of Communist China,” Chan said of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Canada Hongkonger administrator Rick Lau said his Facebook group has connected with Yellow Avengers, an initiative to compile a global yellow shopping guide for Hong Kong travellers.

‘Yellow economy’ may create division

Leo Shin, a history professor at the University of British Columbia, said the idea of using spending power to pressure on a government is not new, quoting the global Anti-Apartheid Movement where international companies disinvested from South Africa.

Shin looks at the shopping with caution, saying it could potentially cause “a great deal of division within the Chinese communities.”

UBC historian Leo Shin said the ‘yellow economy’ may divide Chinese communities. (CBC)

“We should always keep in mind that the ultimate goal is not to encourage division, but to promote coming together in one form or another,” the historian said.

But Yu suggested yellow and blue can coexist: “They believe what they believe, I believe what I believe. In Vancouver, you have freedom of speech… That’s the foundation of Canada’s democracy.”

CBC News contacted B.C. businesses labelled as blue on the list. They all disputed the label and declined interview requests.

With files from Salimah Shivji

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Quebec drivers flock to Ottawa in search of cheaper gas – CBC.ca

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Western Quebec residents lined up at Ottawa gas stations on Saturday to take advantage of fuel prices that were between 20 and 40 cents per litre cheaper than in their province.

Several people who spoke to Radio-Canada said they made the journey to Ottawa this weekend just to fill up their tanks.

“Everything is higher [in cost] now, so if we can save money, we will come,” said Gatineau, Que., resident Suzanne Tanguay, as she filled up at a Petro-Canada on Montreal Road.

For the first time in six months, prices dropped below $1.60 a litre this weekend, with some Ottawa stations selling gas for as low as $1.54 a litre.

It’s a stark drop, given that less than two months ago on June 11, stations in Ottawa hit a record-high price of nearly $2.16 a litre.

Meanwhile, gas prices at some Gatineau stations hovered at about $1.86 a litre on Saturday. 

Gatineau, Que., resident Suzanne Tanguay was one of several western Quebec residents who said they travelled into Ontario to fill up Saturday. (Olivier Periard/Radio-Canada)

Quebec prices could drop, says expert

According to Jean-Thomas Bernard, a professor at the University of Ottawa with expertise in the analysis of energy markets, distributors of gas in both Quebec and Ontario share the same suppliers, who price them equally.

But in Ontario, the provincial government’s decision to cut the gas tax rate from 14.7 cents per litre to nine cents per litre last month has driven down the gas prices across the province.

This means that the margin of profits for Ontario distributors is also reduced, according to Bernard.

“So the distributors in Quebec make more money than the distributors here in Ottawa,” he said. 

But Gatineau residents may soon no longer need to come to Ottawa for their gas: Bernard said he expects prices in Quebec will come down as distributors try to stay competitive with Ontario and avoid losing customers.

“I think the consumer in Quebec should face a lower price in the not-too-far future,” he said.

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Air Canada denies certain compensations claims, calls staff shortages a 'safety-related issue' – CBC.ca

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Less than four hours before departure, Ryan Farrell was surprised to learn his flight from Yellowknife to Calgary had been cancelled.

Air Canada cited “crew constraints” and rebooked him on a plane leaving 48 hours after the June 17 flight’s original takeoff time.

Farrell was even more surprised six weeks later, when he learned his request for compensation had been denied on the basis of the staff shortage.

“Since your Air Canada flight was delayed/cancelled due to crew constraints resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operations, the compensation you are requesting does not apply because the delay/cancellation was caused by a safety-related issue,” reads the email from customer relations dated July 29.

  • What do you think about this story? Do you have a question, experience or story tip to share? Send them in an email to ask@cbc.ca or join us in the comments now.

The rejection “feels like a slap in the face,” Farrell said.

“If they don’t have replacement crew to substitute in, then the flight [was] cancelled because they failed to assemble a crew, not because any other factor would have made it inherently unsafe to run the flight,” he said in an email.

“I think the airlines are trying to exploit a general emotional connection that people make between ‘COVID-19’ and ‘safety,’ when in reality if you put their logic to the test it doesn’t stand up.”

WATCH | Airlines avoiding compensating passengers: 

Frustration as airlines deny compensation for travel disruptions

23 days ago

Duration 2:05

Passengers are frustrated as airlines blame travel disruptions on factors beyond their control, denying compensation in the process.

Not a unique problem

Air Canada’s response to Farrell’s complaint was not an outlier. In a Dec. 29 memo, the company instructed employees to classify flight cancellations caused by staff shortages as a “safety” problem, which would exclude travellers from compensation under federal regulations. That policy remains in place.

Canada’s passenger rights charter, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR), mandates airlines to pay up to $1,000 in compensation for cancellations or significant delays that stem from reasons within the carrier’s control when the notification comes 14 days or less before departure. However, airlines do not have to pay if the change was required for safety purposes.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), a quasi-judicial federal body, says treating staff shortages as a safety matter violates federal rules.

“If a crew shortage is due to the actions or inactions of the carrier, the disruption will be considered within the carrier’s control for the purposes of the APPR. Therefore, a disruption caused by a crew shortage should not be considered ‘required for safety purposes’ when it is the carrier who caused the safety issue as a result of its own actions,” the agency said in an email.

That stance reinforces a decision made July 8 — three weeks before Farrell learned he’d been denied compensation — when the CTA used nearly identical language in a dispute over a flight at a different air carrier. The regulatory panel’s ruling in that case emphasized airlines’ obligations around advance planning “to ensure that the carrier has enough staff available to operate the services it offers for sale.”

WATCH | Dubious honour for Canada’s largest airport: 

Toronto’s Pearson ranked worst airport in the world for delays

9 days ago

Duration 2:00

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport was ranked the world’s worst airport for flight delays. Amid travel chaos, travellers continue to share complaints on social media while tourism groups fear this publicity may affect travel to Canada.

Air Canada exploiting policy, advocate says

In the December memo, which was issued at the height of the Omicron wave of COVID-19, Air Canada said: “Effective immediately, flight cancellations due to crew are considered as Within Carrier Control — For Safety.”

“Customers impacted by these flight cancellations will still be eligible for the standard of treatments such as hotel accommodations, meals etc. but will no longer be eligible for APPR claims/monetary compensation.”

The staff directive said the stance would be “temporary.” But Air Canada acknowledged in an email on July 25 that the policy “remains in place given the continued exceptional circumstances brought on by COVID variants.”

Gabor Lukacs, president of the Air Passenger Rights advocacy group, said Air Canada is “unlawfully” exploiting the passenger rights charter to avoid paying compensation and called on the transport regulator for stronger enforcement.

“They are misclassifying things that are clearly not a safety issue,” he said of Canada’s largest airline, calling the policy “egregious.”

Consumers can dispute an airline’s denial of a claim via a complaint to the CTA. However, the agency’s backlog topped 15,300 air travel complaints as of May.

Air Canada trying to deter compensation claims: lawyer

Lukacs also noted that European Union regulations do not exclude safety reasons from situations requiring compensation in the event of cancellations or delays. Payouts are precluded only as a result of “extraordinary circumstances,” such as weather or political instability.

“This document, along with the previous declarations and behaviour since the beginning of the pandemic, shows that Air Canada’s priority is clearly to try to limit the costs of the flight cancellations instead of providing good service to its clients,” Sylvie De Bellefeuille, a lawyer with Quebec-based advocacy group Option consommateurs, said after reviewing a copy of the directive.

She said Air Canada aims to deter passengers from requesting compensation in the first place. “This tactic does not, in our opinion, demonstrate that the company cares about its customers.”

Air Canada disagrees with that characterization.

“Air Canada had and continues to have more employees proportionate to its flying schedule when compared prior to the pandemic,” the company said in an emailed statement, indicating it had done everything it could to prepare for operational hiccups.

“Air Canada follows all public health directives as part of its safety culture, and during the Omicron wave last winter that affected some crew availability, we revised our policy to better assist customers in their travels with enhanced levels of customer care for flight cancellations related to crew contending with COVID.”

John Gradek, head of McGill University’s aviation management program, said the transportation agency is partly responsible for the “debacle” because it established looser rules than those in Europe and the United States.

“Carriers have been making strong efforts to point fingers and claim delays are outside of their control to reduce liability,” he said in an email.

LISTEN | No relief for frustrated travellers: 

The Current28:53Travellers continue to battle wait times and cancellations at airports, but experts say there won’t be relief anytime soon

Travellers continue to battle long wait times, delays and flight cancellations as they try to travel by plane this summer. Those challenges prompted Air Canada to cancel flights throughout the summer. For Jenn MacDougall, that meant she had to sleep on the floor of the airport. Now she tells guest host Rosemary Barton that she’s calling for action; travel expert Scott Keyes discusses how people can be best prepared; and Monette Pasher, president of the Canadian Airports Council, says global travel likely won’t get better anytime soon.

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Fill up today! Here's when gas prices will rise seven cents a litre in Ottawa – CTV News Ottawa

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Ottawa motorists will want to fill up the gas tank on Saturday, before prices start to rise at the end of the weekend.

Gas prices dropped to their lowest level in six months at Ottawa stations on Saturday, at $1.599 a litre.  According to ottawagasprices.com, some stations in Ottawa were selling gas for $1.54 a litre.

Prices have dropped 20 cents a litre in Ottawa since Thursday.

However, Canadians for Affordable Energy President Dan McTeague is telling motorists to fill up the gas tank today.

McTeague forecasts prices will rise seven cents a litre in Ottawa and across Ontario on Sunday to 166.8 cents a litre.

Gas prices in Ottawa have dropped 56 cents a litre since hitting a record high of 215.9 cents a litre on June 11. A drop in demand and rising fears about a recession drove down the price of oil. The Ontario government cut the gas tax rate on July 1 from 14.7 cents per litre to 9 cents per litre.

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work on Friday, McTeague said the recent drop in gas prices is welcome, but “don’t expect it to last.”

“The markets, I think, are overestimating the amount of demand drop we’ve seen in the United States and underestimating the severest supply shortage that we’re having,” McTeague said.

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