Samantha Feder just wanted to get to Toronto.
In September, the Ottawa woman booked a trip with Amigo Express, a company that connects drivers with passengers looking to share the costs of long-distance trips, in what she expected would be a four-seat sedan.
But when she showed up on her day of departure, a shuttle-style van with an unfamiliar licence plate and more than a dozen random strangers inside was waiting for her.
“It was clear to me that there were people who maybe had booked from other services [like] Kijiji or Craigslist,” Feder said.
“I decided I was not going to get into the car.”
Kijiji, Craigslist and other such sites are filled with requests from drivers seeking passengers to share the cost of one-off trips, such as chipping in for gas, a practice that’s completely above board.
But there are also posts offering multiple trips a day in state-of-the-art vans equipped with the internet and other amenities — and that sort of unlicensed carpooling is prohibited in both Ontario and Quebec.
In Ontario, transportation services that take passengers across municipal boundaries for a fee — aside from taxis and personal carpools — must have a proper operating licence through the Ontario Highway Transport Board.
Under the Public Vehicles Act, carpooling vehicles cannot carry more than 10 people.
They can only make a single, one-way or round trip per day, drivers can only charge to cover the costs of operating the vehicle, and the presence of passengers must be “incidental” to the driver’s purpose for the trip, according to transportation ministry spokesperson Kristine Bunker.
“Drivers offering intercity rideshare services for compensation above and beyond reimbursement for expenses incurred to operate the vehicle are in contravention of these requirements,” wrote Bunker in an email.
The regulations are also clear in Quebec: According to a statement on the transportation’s ministry website, there is “no such thing as commercial carpooling.”
As part of an investigation into the scope of illegal carpooling, Radio-Canada reserved a trip from Ottawa to Montreal with a driver who was offering six trips — three there and three back — each day.
Using hidden cameras, Radio-Canada reporters showed up at the meeting point twice to find the same driver in the same vehicle.
When asked if he had a special Ontario permit for this type of trip, the driver said he didn’t and then told the reporters to “take a Greyhound” instead.
Contacted by Radio-Canada a few days later, the driver said he had ended this sort of activity. As of Friday, however, his advertisement was still online.
No licensing, no oversight
Radio-Canada also spoke to a group of people waiting for a similar carpooling pickup in the ByWard Market. Many said they weren’t worried about safety risks, calling it a more affordable option than taking either the bus or the train.
“It is a problem,” said Kristine D’Arbelles, a spokesperson with the CAA.
D’Arbelles said the internet has made illegal carpooling much easier, with risks to passengers. There’s no way of knowing if the driver has a valid driver’s licence, if they’re insured, or what condition their vehicle is in, she said.
“There is no licensing and there is no oversight,” she said.
Amigo Express, also known as Kangaride, declined an interview with Radio-Canada.
The company’s director, Marc-Olivier Vachon, wrote in an email the company was taking all steps to stem the improper use of sites like Kijiji.
A spokesperson with Kijiji said the site is taking measures to counter illegal carpooling, and has a “dedicated commitment” to comply with the law.
“We commit significant resources toward the detection and prevention of activities that infringe our policies — this includes industry-leading technology and a dedicated community support team, in addition to help from our community of Kijiji users who flag inappropriate postings,” wrote Marie-Philippe Busque in an email.
As for Feder, while she was able to get her booking refunded, she ended up having to take an expensive last-minute train to Toronto.
“Although they did give me credits, I haven’t used the service since,” she said.
Canada defends pandemic policy on asylum-seekers while letting more enter through exemptions
The Canadian government is trying to quash a legal challenge to its policy of turning back asylum-seekers entering the country between border crossings, saying the group bringing it lacks standing, even as it has granted a growing number of exemptions to the policy.
The parties were in court on Thursday arguing over who should be able to bring a case in the public interest.
Since March 2020, Canada has turned back at least 544 asylum-seekers trying to cross from the United States between ports of entry, government figures show.
The government says its policy is justified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the exemptions it has granted prove recourse is available.
Refugee lawyers said that these exemptions are inadequate, as at least one asylum-seeker was deported from the United States after receiving an exemption, and belie the policy’s justification.
“Refugee travel is not discretionary,” said Maureen Silcoff, a refugee lawyer and past president of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, which earlier this year challenged https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/exclusive-canada-taken-court-over-covid-policy-that-pushes-asylum-seekers-us-2021-05-04 the policy.
The government argues that the association lacks legal standing and its challenge should be struck.
The association is neither the intended beneficiary nor the target of the rule and “has no real stake or genuine interest in the outcome of this litigation,” the government said in a court filing. It said asylum-seekers who have been turned back should bring the case.
Refugee lawyers said those asylum-seekers, some of whom end up in U.S. immigration detention, are poorly placed to challenge the policy.
Starting in July, Canada increased the number of National Interest Exemptions it issued to asylum-seekers who had been turned back, enabling them to enter Canada and file refugee claims.
Between March 2020 and July 2021, Canada had granted just eight such exemptions. By Oct. 14, that number had risen to 159 exemptions, according to documents filed in court.
Canada’s immigration ministry did not respond to questions about the criteria for these exemptions.
Canada has a Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States under which asylum-seekers who present at a land border crossing are turned back. It has been challenged twice but upheld most recently this spring https://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-usa-refugee-agreement-idCAKBN2C22XH.
(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Bill Berkrot)
Bank of Canada ends quantitative easing, leaves interest rates untouched – Saanich News – Saanich News
The Bank of Canada isn’t ready to increase interest rates just yet, but the central bank moved to end quantitative easing on Wednesday, (Oct. 27).
For much of the pandemic, the central bank has pumped stimulus into the economy through quantitative easing, buying up billions of dollars in federal government bonds to keep interest rates down. This new move will see the bank halt purchases of new bonds, except to replace existing holdings that mature.
The Bank of Canada’s interest rate remains at 0.25 per cent. However, the bank signalled that interest rates could rise in the second half of 2022. Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem has faced pressure to raise interest rates to stave off inflation, but hiking interest rates risks limiting Canada’s economic growth.
Macklem pointed to strong job growth in recent months and high vaccination rates for driving Canada’s economic recovery but noted that the employment rate in low-wage sectors continues to lag.
Meanwhile, inflationary pressures are being driven by bottlenecks in supply chains, as well as a global increase in energy costs. Macklem said that inflation issues are more stubborn than the bank originally anticipated.
“We know higher prices are challenging for Canadians, making it harder for them to cover their bills. I want to assure you that inflation is not going to stay as high as it is today, even if it is going to take somewhat longer to come down.”
Moshe Lander, professor of economics at Concordia University, said the best thing the Bank of Canada can do to tamp down inflation is nothing.
“Whatever policy stance the Bank takes, they’re going to do harm in some capacity. The best thing here is to do nothing and let the inflation work its way out.”
Lander said the most recent move from the central bank is a signal that Canada’s economy is recovering from the pandemic, but Canada still has a lot of ground to make up.
“Until we close that ground, we need to make up for lost time. We’ll tolerate a certain amount of inflation and policies that we wouldn’t normally allow for until we get back to a point where we can say we’ve come through the worst of it and we’re ready to come back to business as usual.”
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Child labour policies, Canada's greenhouse gas emissions: In The News for Oct. 28 – CKPGToday.ca
The Canadian Press used the Access to Information Act to obtain a public copy — as well as a heavily censored, classified version — and an internal briefing note summarizing the government’s intended response.
The report says Canada is taking a leading position by exposing its procurement to this scrutiny — an important and required first step.
Since receiving the findings, the government has updated its Code of Conduct for Procurement to incorporate human and labour rights expectations for vendors and their subcontractors.
Also this …
A new analysis suggests the Liberal climate plan could meet Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions targets for the first time before the end of this decade.
The study by Clean Prosperity could give some heft to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau credentials ahead of planned climate discussions at the upcoming G20 summit and United Nations COP 26 meeting.
Trudeau is boarding a plane this morning bound for Europe to attend those summits, though his first stop on the six-day trip is an official visit to the Netherlands.
The Clean Prosperity analysis says all of Trudeau’s recent climate policies could get Canada emissions to 41 per cent below what they were in 2005, by 2030 — just within reach of the new 40 to 45 per cent target he set last spring.
Canada’s climate credibility has been in doubt after emissions rose following Trudeau signing onto the Paris agreement in 2015.
Climate will also form part of the talks at the G20 in Rome, but the COVID-19 pandemic will be the main focus there.
What we are watching in the U.S. …
SANTA FE, N.M. — Investigators say there was “some complacency” in how weapons were handled on a movie set where Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed a cinematographer and wounded another person.
They also said it’s too soon to determine whether charges will be filed.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza noted 500 rounds of ammunition were found while searching the set of the Western “Rust.” They included a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and suspected live rounds.
“Obviously I think the industry has had a record recently of being safe. I think there was some complacency on this set, and I think there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by the industry and possibly by the state of New Mexico,” Mendoza told a news conference nearly a week after the shooting.
Authorities also confirmed there was no footage of the shooting, which happened during a rehearsal. Investigators believe Baldwin’s gun fired a single live round that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza.
Detectives have recovered a lead projectile they believe the actor fired last week. Testing is being done to confirm whether the projectile taken from Souza’s shoulder was fired from the same long Colt revolver used by Baldwin. The FBI will help with ballistics analysis.
Two other guns were seized, including a single-action revolver that may have been modified and a plastic gun that was described as a revolver, officials said.
Rust Movie Productions, the production company, says it is co-operating with authorities and conducting its own internal review of procedures with the production shut down.
What we are watching in the rest of the world …
WELLINGTON, New Zealand _ New Zealand officials said Thursday they will gradually loosen their border quarantine requirements, which have been among the toughest in the world throughout the pandemic.
But while the changes will make it easier for New Zealanders stranded abroad to return home, officials gave no date for when tourists might be welcomed back. That change is likely still months away.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that from next month, most people arriving in New Zealand would need to spend seven days in a quarantine hotel run by the military, half the previous requirement, while some new arrivals from low-risk Pacific island countries could skip quarantine altogether and isolate at home.
He said the new rules were an interim step ahead of broader reopening measures that would be gradually introduced once more than 90 per cent of New Zealanders aged 12 and over were fully vaccinated. So far, 72 per cent of eligible people have had both shots.
The change follows a growing outcry from New Zealanders who have been trying to return home but have been unable to secure spots in the quarantine system. Some have resorted to legal action.
“I acknowledge that there’s a lot of pressure there. My message to the people who are keen to get back into New Zealand is: There isn’t very long to wait now,” Hipkins said. “And encouraging their fellow New Zealanders to get fully vaccinated will help us get to that point faster.”
Hipkins said he expected most new arrivals would be able to isolate at home by sometime in the first quarter of next year. He said the first priority was New Zealanders and those with valid visas.
“Tourists are more of a challenge, in that they don’t necessarily have somewhere to isolate on arrival,” Hipkins said. “But we’ll work our way through all of that.”
On this day in 1991 …
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney withdrew his name from candidacy for the post of UN secretary general.
In entertainment …
SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court has refused to consider Brad Pitt’s appeal of a court ruling that disqualified the judge in his custody battle with Angelina Jolie.
The court on Wednesday denied a review of a June appeals court decision that said the private judge hearing the case should be disqualified for failing to sufficiently disclose his business relationships with Pitt’s attorneys.
The judge already ruled Pitt and Jolie divorced, but he separated the issue of custody of their five minor children. Jolie and Pitt were married in 2014. Jolie filed to dissolve the marriage two years later.
The state Supreme Court’s decision means the fight over the couple’s five minor children — which was nearing an end — could just be getting started.
Emails seeking comment from attorneys for Pitt and Jolie weren’t immediately returned.
Jolie, 46, and Pitt, 57, were among Hollywood’s most prominent couples for 12 years. A former Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, John Ouderkirk, officiated at their 2014 wedding, then was hired to oversee their divorce when Jolie filed to dissolve the marriage in 2016.
He ruled the couple divorced in 2019, but he separated the child custody issues.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.— Four years after the “Greatest Show On Earth” shut down, officials are planning to bring back the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, but animals will no longer be featured in their shows.
A spokesperson for Florida-based Feld Entertainment says an announcement is expected sometime next year.
The three-ring circus shut down in May 2017 after a 146-year run.
Costly court battles with animal rights activists led circus officials to end elephant acts in 2016. Without the elephants, ticket sales declined.
Officials also blamed increased railroad costs, and the rise of online games and videos, which made the “Greatest Show On Earth” not seem that great anymore.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which was behind many of the protests, said it is thrilled with the concept of a circus without animal acts.
“The exciting announcement sends a powerful message to the entire industry, something that PETA’s been saying for decades: Cruelty doesn’t belong in the circus or in any other form of entertainment,” the organization told the Herald-Tribune.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2021
The Canadian Press
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