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Speeding Tesla driver caught napping behind the wheel on Alberta highway – CBC.ca

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The RCMP in Alberta have charged a 20-year-old British Columbia man with speeding while he was asleep at the wheel of a Tesla electric car.

The RCMP received a call at about 4 p.m. on July 9 concerning a 2019 Tesla Model S speeding south on Highway 2 near Ponoka, about 100 kilometres south of Edmonton.

Both front seats were fully reclined, and both the driver and passenger appeared to be sound asleep, police say. 

The car appeared to be driving on autopilot at more than 140 km/h, RCMP Sgt. Darrin Turnbull told CBC News on Thursday. The speed limit on that stretch of highway is 110 km/h.

“Nobody was looking out the windshield to see where the car was going,” he said. 

“I’ve been in policing for over 23 years and the majority of that in traffic law enforcement, and I’m speechless.

“I’ve never, ever seen anything like this before, but of course the technology wasn’t there.” 

Tesla Model S sedans have autopilot functions, including auto-steer and “traffic-aware” cruise control, and both functions appeared to be activated.

“We believe the vehicle was operating on the autopilot system, which is really just an advanced driver safety system, a driver assist program. You still need to be driving the vehicle,” Turnbull said. 

“But of course, there are after-market things that can be done to a vehicle against the manufacturer’s recommendations to change or circumvent the safety system.” 

After the responding officer activated emergency lights on their vehicle, the Tesla automatically began to accelerate, Turnbull said, even as those vehicles that were ahead of the Tesla on the highway moved out of the way.

“Nobody appeared to be in the car, but the vehicle sped up because the line was clear in front.”

The responding officer obtained radar readings on the vehicle, confirming that it had automatically accelerated to exactly 150 km/h.

The RCMP charged the driver with speeding and issued a 24-hour licence suspension for fatigue. 

After further investigation and consultation with the Crown, a Criminal Code charge of dangerous driving was laid against the driver, police said.

The driver was served with a summons for court in December.

Autonomous cars are in their early stages in much of Canada, with Ontario and Quebec approving pilot projects as long as a vigilant driver is present to take control of the vehicle when needed.

There have not been any reported self-driving car crashes in Canada, but several have been reported in the United States, putting Tesla’s autopilot driving system functions under scrutiny.

On Dec. 29, 2019, a Tesla Model S sedan left a freeway in Gardena, Calif., at high speed, ran a red light and struck a Honda Civic, killing two people inside, police said. On the same day, a Tesla Model 3 hit a parked firetruck on an Indiana freeway, killing a passenger in the Tesla.

On Dec. 7, a Model 3 struck a police cruiser on a Connecticut highway, but no one was hurt.

Tesla’s autopilot function is designed to keep a car in its lane and at a safe distance from other vehicles. Autopilot also can change lanes on its own.

‘It gives all of us a bad name’

Angie Dean, president of the Tesla Owners Club of Alberta, said the incident is troubling for the 300 paying members of her group and the more than 1,000 active members of the club’s online Facebook group. 

Dean said the driver-assist functions in Tesla vehicles are designed to enhance safety, not detract from it.

“This type of story is sort of next to a worst-case scenario,” she said. “The only thing that would be worse than this is if someone had got hurt. Everyone that I’ve spoken with is just so disappointed and so frustrated because it’s abuse of the system.

“It gives all of us a bad name, and the vast majority of us would never do something like this. We bought these cars because we want to be safer.”

The driver-assist program requires regular input from the driver to function, Dean said. If the driver’s hands come off the wheel, warnings begin going off every 15 seconds, she said.

“It asks you to put your hands on the wheel and turn it a little bit so that it knows that your hands are on the wheel,” Dean said. 

“If you don’t, it starts beeping at you. And if you still don’t, it gets even louder. And if you still don’t, it actually turns the hazard lights on, slows the vehicle down and it pulls it over. It turns the car off and autopilot will not engage for the rest of that drive.”

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Despite the build-in safeguards, videos circulating online instruct drivers on ways to “hack” and override these systems, Dean said.

“There are a lot of systems that are in place that are really, really trying not to make this possible. But if there’s a will, there’s a way, I suppose. ” 

Just because some vehicles can drive themselves, it doesn’t mean they should, the RCMP said. 

 “Although manufacturers of new vehicles have built in safeguards to prevent drivers from taking advantage of the new safety systems in vehicles, those systems are just that — supplemental safety systems,” said Supt. Gary Graham of Alberta RCMP Traffic Services. 

“They are not self-driving systems, they still come with the responsibility of driving.”

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The City of Penticton is encouraging residents to donate to the Salvation Army and Red Cross to help victims of apartment blaze – Penticton News – Castanet.net

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After a fire destroyed an apartment building Tuesday morning and claimed the lives of two residents, the City of Penticton is encouraging people to donate to Penticton’s Salvation Army Store and the Red Cross.

“Clothing, bedding and similar items can be given to the Salvation Army Store Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while cash donations can be directed to the red cross at redcross.ca/donate,” Adam Goodwin, the city’s social development strategist said. 

The evacuees affected by the fire at 217 Elm Avenue will be given a special voucher at the Salvation Army Store to shop for items they may be in need of.

Red Cross is also providing emergency assistance to those that don’t carry insurance. All donations given will be going towards funding these supports and other future emergencies. 

“The compassion, empathy and care our community has for each other is shining through,” John Vassilaki, the mayor of Penticton said. “Residents and businesses have been calling the City asking where they can best support evacuees, so I’m grateful to see the Salvation Army and Red Cross stepping forward to help as they always do. This is another example for our close-knit community working together during a time of need.” 

The Salvation Army would also like to remind the community that due to space constraints, it can only accept limited furniture items in good condition. All donated items go into The Salvation Army’s general inventory to ensure that fire evacuees have access to its store’s full inventory. 

The Salvation Army remains open to anyone in need, and no one in need is turned away.

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The City of Penticton is encouraging residents to donate to the Salvation Army and Red Cross to help victims of apartment blaze – Penticton News – Castanet.net

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After a fire destroyed an apartment building Tuesday morning and claimed the lives of two residents, the City of Penticton is encouraging people to donate to Penticton’s Salvation Army Store and the Red Cross.

“Clothing, bedding and similar items can be given to the Salvation Army Store Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while cash donations can be directed to the red cross at redcross.ca/donate,” Adam Goodwin, the city’s social development strategist said. 

The evacuees affected by the fire at 217 Elm Avenue will be given a special voucher at the Salvation Army Store to shop for items they may be in need of.

Red Cross is also providing emergency assistance to those that don’t carry insurance. All donations given will be going towards funding these supports and other future emergencies. 

“The compassion, empathy and care our community has for each other is shining through,” John Vassilaki, the mayor of Penticton said. “Residents and businesses have been calling the City asking where they can best support evacuees, so I’m grateful to see the Salvation Army and Red Cross stepping forward to help as they always do. This is another example for our close-knit community working together during a time of need.” 

The Salvation Army would also like to remind the community that due to space constraints, it can only accept limited furniture items in good condition. All donated items go into The Salvation Army’s general inventory to ensure that fire evacuees have access to its store’s full inventory. 

The Salvation Army remains open to anyone in need, and no one in need is turned away.

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Banking barriers: How the Canadian financial sector excludes Black entrepreneurs, stifling innovation – CBC.ca

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As the owner of a beauty shop catering to Black hair, Nichola Lorimer is used to explaining her business to people who are unfamiliar with the products and services she offers.

But when the 37-year-old Edmonton entrepreneur, who goes by NiLo, inquired about a commercial mortgage, she didn’t expect the conversation would fixate on a derogatory racial term.

“I was explaining the type of business that I do, that it’s a niche market, that I work with natural hair only. He asked if this is a ‘nappy hair’ business specifically,” she said when recalling her phone conversation with the bank representative.

“‘Is this like a business for nappy girls? Like nappy hair girls?’ I was stunned.” 

The term was used historically to describe the tightly coiled texture of Black hair and was often associated with derogatory caricatures and portrayals of Black natural hair.

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Lorimer said she tried to explain why the term was offensive, but the bank employee did not apologize and then ended the conversation. 

After she filed a complaint, the bank reviewed a recording of the phone call and issued a letter of apology, which CBC News has seen, and wrote the incident did not represent the financial institution’s philosophy. But the damage was already done.

I think there’s a banking industry that may have been built around a more homogeneous, likely white society.– Nichola Lorimer, Edmonton-based entrepreneur

Lorimer said she felt the bank fundamentally didn’t understand her business case nor did it care to.

The entrepreneur said the bank did not focus on the shop’s real estate.

“I think that it’s reflective of a lack of policy,” she told CBC Radio’s Cost of Living. “I think there’s a banking industry that may have been built around a more homogeneous, likely white society.”

Lorimer ended up postponing her plan for a mortgage. 

Black-owned businesses face ‘rudeness and bias’

Poor customer service and cultural insensitivity are common barriers facing Black entrepreneurs who turn to commercial banks for financing, said Caroline Shenaz Hossein, associate professor of business and society at York University in Toronto. 

“It is just so perplexing the level of rudeness and bias that is occurring against people for simply wanting to get their projects funded,” said Hossein, whose research includes financial exclusion.

“It’s kind of an interrogation of questions that really does make them feel badly or feel that the kinds of business they are doing are not worthy of financing.” 

Caroline Shenaz Hossein, associate professor of business and society at York University, says many Black entrepreneurs are turning to alternative forms of financing due to negative experiences at commercial banks. (Submitted by Caroline Shenaz Hossein)

Barriers to financing

While some financing barriers are cultural, others are physical.

A 2010 geographic analysis of banks in Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver revealed that although commercial banks are abundant in affluent neighbourhoods, they’re much scarcer and sometimes absent in low-income neighbourhoods with high concentrations of racially diverse residents.

In 2015, when asked how the City of Toronto can support Black-owned businesses, around half of Black respondents identified “accessing financing” as the top issue.

The problem was also flagged in an earlier study published in 2001, which found Blacks in Toronto were more likely to start their own businesses due to racism in the workplace.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, met with Black entrepreneurs while unveiling plans on Sept. 9 to provide greater support for their businesses. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

New federal loan program

The federal government has acknowledged these systemic barriers. In early September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Ottawa would partner with eight major financial institutions to introduce a $221-million loan program aimed at helping Black entrepreneurs.

Participating lenders include RBC, BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC, National Bank, TD, Vancity and Alterna Savings. Together, those institutions committed to contributing more than half of the money to set up the new Black business loan fund.

While Hossein applauded this effort, she said she’s concerned the program won’t address the existing culture within banks that perpetuates financial exclusion.

“How are [the banks] going to be reformed by … coming together [with the government] to provide more money?” said Hossein.

She called it a temporary measure to “satisfy or appease the Black community” by offering loans at market rates.

A more holistic approach, according to advocacy groups such as Democracy Watch, would be for banks to track and publicly disclose their loan data based on gender, race and income, in order to better reflect the communities they serve. 

Several banks, including RBCand BMO, have acknowledged the problem and announced steps they’ve taken to address it, including more inclusive hiring practices and funding for programs such as legal defence initiatives and community building. 

Liberal MP Greg Fergus said officials are working on how a program to help Black entrepreneurs will work. (Patrick Louiseize/CBC)

Dozens of Black-owned businesses contacted by The Cost of Living said they would like to find out more about the latest federal program.

Liberal MP Greg Fergus, who chairs the Parliamentary Black Caucus, said he expects the loans to start flowing during the first quarter of 2021.

“What happens now is that the officials go back and start working [on] how do they involve Black entrepreneurs, business owners, Black-led organizations to design the program,” he said.

Passing as white and getting ‘dealt with in a different way’

Black business owner Tanya Reddick said she’ll conduct business on the phone as much as possible to avoid interacting with bank employees in person until alternatives such as the federal funding are available.

Reddick, who runs a burrito stand at the Halifax Forum Farmers’ Market, said she gets better customer service when the representative on the other end thinks she’s white — an error that she said representatives often make over the phone.

Tanya Reddick, left, co-owns a food business in Halifax and is trying to secure a loan to buy a food truck, but she’s not impressed with the response from banks. (Submitted by Tanya Reddick)

“I sound as though I’m white,” said 46-year-old Reddick, who is a descendant of Africville residents, a displaced community in Halifax with roots tracing back centuries to Black Loyalists and former slaves. 

“When you sound that way, [then] you show up at the bank, literally the smile comes off a person’s face, and you get dealt with in a different way.”

Ben Kisimolo had a similar experience in Calgary recently when he showed up in person after booking a business loan application appointment with a major financial institution.

Ben Kisimolo runs a music and apparel startup in Calgary and said people online or on the phone often assume he’s white because he owns a business. (Submitted by Ben Kisimolo)

“She was happy when I talked to her on the phone. I can hear she was happy and excited to go through the process,” recalled the 26-year-old, who runs a music and apparel startup in Alberta. “And then I got there. She said, ‘Oh, are you Ben?’ Yep, it’s me.’

“Her vibe completely changed. I knew already I wasn’t going to get anything. And for sure, I was right.” 

Many people think the business is owned by a white person. They’re like, ‘Oh, you’re a Black person who’s 26? You cannot be doing something like this.’– Ben Kisimolo, Calgary-based business owner

Kisimolo, who was born in Congo and raised in Montreal, said people in Western Canada often misidentify his accent as French Canadian over the phone. 

“Many people think the business is owned by a white person,” he said. “They’re like, ‘Oh, you’re a Black person who’s 26? You cannot be doing something like this.'”

Hiring ‘white fixer’ to get ahead

Recently, Reddick started networking with other Black-owned businesses in Nova Scotia and said one solution she’s heard repeatedly is the idea of a “white fixer.”

The practice involves hiring a white person to conduct business on behalf of and represent the Black entrepreneur. 

“They’ll hire white lawyers, or they’ll have other representatives within their company that are white and they’ll send them to basically close the deal,” said Reddick.

“This is what we have to do to get ahead.”

Charline Grant, right, runs a basketball academy in York Region, Ont., and recently started the Banking While Black podcast to shed light on systemic racism in Canada’s banking sector. (Submitted by Charline Grant)

For Charline Grant, 46, any trip to the bank turns lengthy with numerous lines of questioning and multiple ID verifications.

“I already know my account is going to be flagged. All my cheques are going to be held for the next six months. I’m only going to be allowed to withdraw $500 cash per day,” said Grant. 

“They’re not used to seeing me, a Black person like myself coming into a bank with a complex banking issue and complex business issue. Because that’s not the narrative that’s told about us. Therefore, I must be wrong, and they must be right.”

Special rate for ‘hockey clients’?

Grant runs three successful businesses with her husband, Garth, in Woodbridge, Ont., including a construction company, a human resources consultancy and a basketball academy.

When setting up an account for their latest basketball training school, Grant asked a bank employee about a special monthly rate reserved for community-based businesses. 

“He said, ‘No, that is for our hockey clients,'” Grant said. “And I said, ‘I’m sorry, what? When you said that, does that sound ridiculous to you? When you say hockey clients, what do you mean?'”

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Since the May 25 death in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Grant said there’s been an awakening among Black business owners to the damaging effects of systemic racism in the banking sector. 

“Because banking is so personal and it’s money, a lot of people don’t share their experiences,” she said. “We’ve actually started a podcast, and we’re calling it Banking While Black, which we’re sharing our individual experiences, and we’re getting others to call in and share.

“That’s what we’re going to use to let others know this is what the Black community goes through when we go to the bank. This is the level on which we are treated.”

Banking barriers hurt economy, innovation

Joycelyn Dottin, 43, who started a private Facebook support group for Black business owners that has 400 members, said there’s a cumulative cost to all these negative experiences.

“I can say one word: tired,” said Vancouver-based Dottin, who sells her graphic designs through websites such as Threadless.

“If there was a word count search that I could do in my Facebook group, the word is tired. We’re tired. Tired of fighting, tired of working harder than everyone else just so that we’re accepted.” 

Banking barriers can also stifle innovation, and it means the economy loses out on creativity, said York University’s Hossein.

“When we think about the systemic exclusion that’s occurring against Black entrepreneurs and business people … we will lose talent. We’re going to lose a lot of our creative people who are trying to grow an economy in new and exciting ways,” said Hossein.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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