News

1. Lobbying

“The Nova Scotia Gaming Corp. paid thousands of dollars to fly three experts to Halifax to testify in favour of a government bill aimed at relaxing the rules of a program that bans problem gamblers from casinos for life,” reports Jean Laroche for the CBC:

A spokesperson for the Crown corporation said Monday that it expected to pay around $7,500 to cover the travel costs of Sue Birge, director of standards and accreditation for the Responsible Gambling Council; Jon Kelly, the council’s former CEO; and Jamie Wiebe, the council’s ex-director of research and development.

Laroche succinctly spelled out the problem in a tweet:

Highly unusual situation @NSLeg Law Amendments Committee. NS Gaming Corporation has paid people to appear before the committee to speak in favour of Bill 49. In essence, taxpayers are paying people to lobby its own government on a government bill. #nspoli

— Jean Laroche (@larochecbc) October 1, 2018

Sue Birge, Jon Kelly, and Jamie Wiebe are not listed on the provincial lobbyist registry, nor is Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, but under the regulations, “a submission to a committee of the House of Assembly that is on the public record” is not considered lobbying, so the testimony before the legislature’s Law Amendments committee does not appear to violate lobbying rules.

Still, it’s unseemly.

2. Solitary confinement

A jail cell in the renovated north wing of the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Two former inmates of Nova Scotia jails have filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the province on the use of solitary confinement,” reports John McPhee for the Chronicle Herald:

The action was filed Monday by the Halifax law firm Valent Legal on behalf of proposed representative plaintiffs Robert Bailey and Caitlin Hill.

The claim alleges that the use of solitary confinement for consecutive periods exceeding 15 days constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, in contravention of Section 12 of the charter.

“In Nova Scotia, solitary confinement under the title of ‘administrative segregation’ may be extended indefinitely,” a news release from Valent Legal said. “Administrative segregation is used to place prisoners in solitary confinement for reasons other than punishment of disciplinary infractions.”

Valent contends that prisoners with mental health challenges are commonly subjected to administrative segregation, “although they are among the most vulnerable to the often severe and lasting emotional, physical, and psychological consequences of holding someone for a prolonged period in a low-stimulus environment without meaningful human contact.”

Bailey said he believes that being subjected to solitary confinement has caused him lasting harm.

“I’m still suffering from the effects today,” he said in the release. “I hope that this lawsuit will create some much-needed change to the system.”

I suspect we’re about to see several similar lawsuits filed.

3. Uber

There’s been a renewed push for allowing Uber to operate in Halifax.

The pressure began to amp up in August after Corporate Research Associates (CRA) published the results of its “Urban Report” poll result, which found that 67 per cent of respondents in Halifax supported the introduction of Uber-like services. CRA did not say if Uber financed that portion of the poll.

Then, last week, Uber actively campaigned to get people to support Uber in a survey hosted by the city, reported Paul Palmeter for the CBC:

“We’ve used various ways, e-mail, social media, to let them know HRM is seeking their feedback,” said Chris Schafer, Uber Canada’s public policy manager. The deadline to complete the survey is Oct. 11.

Uber has sent that link to thousands of HRM residents who have used the Uber App in other places.

So much for a fair representation of citizens’ views.

But even without Uber placing its corporate thumb on the scale, it’s clear that a lot of people want Uber. But a lot of people want a lot of things; that doesn’t make them good policy.

I have no objection to Uber’s technology. Technology isn’t the issue here. (Casino Taxi’s app is great.) What’s at stake is driver pay and standards. On the latter, Globe & Mail editorialist Eric Andrew-Gee wrote a heart-wrenching account of the death of his friend Nick Cameron, who had used an Uber car to get to Pearson airport:

At first, the driver went the wrong way – east, away from the airport, all the way to Spadina. When he finally got turned around, he suggested taking city streets, rather than the highway. Nick and Monika urged him to take the Gardiner Expressway, by far the fastest route.

After a few minutes, the driver’s phone fell off his dashboard. He was using the phone’s GPS to navigate, so he pulled over. The shoulder at that part of the Gardiner, near Royal York Rd., is narrow — barely a car wide. People don’t pull over there unless their car has broken down.

When the driver had retrieved his phone, he merged back into traffic, apparently without checking his mirrors. A BMW smashed into them from behind. The rear left side of the Uber, where Nick was sitting, bore the brunt of the impact.

Nick was taken to the hospital without vital signs.

Andrew-Gee goes on to explain that safety training requirements for ride-share and taxi drivers have been abolished because Uber entered the market:

It turns out there isn’t any [safety training]. In the negotiations over Uber’s regulation two years ago, the city tried to placate cab companies worried about competition by levelling safety standards down, rather than up. That is, instead of imposing the same rules on Uber that the taxi firms faced, it eliminated most of the rules for everyone. A mandatory 17-day safety training course for cabbies was scrapped.

Now, ride-share chauffeurs in Toronto need only a regular driver’s licence, fewer than nine demerit points, no overdue by-law fines and no major criminal convictions or road infractions to their name.

Toronto’s peer cities all have more demanding safety regimes. In places as disparate as Montreal, Calgary, Chicago and New York, ride-share drivers have to undergo roughly the same combination of in-class safety lessons, written exams and road tests as taxi drivers. The length and stringency varies, but they all have some degree of training.

These cities have rejected Uber’s logic, which says the company offers lifts from friendly amateurs, not professional drivers, and that quality control can be maintained by a driver rating system that lets riders dole out stars for performance.

Nick’s case shows how flawed that thinking is. Being an Uber driver is demanding. You’re often working long shifts, during rush hour or at odd times of day; plying unfamiliar routes and navigating by GPS, which takes your attention away from the road; stopping and starting frequently to let out passengers; distracted by strangers in the back seat; and with the pressure of making good time to pick up the next fare. Given all these challenges, shouldn’t ride-share drivers be the best on the road?

I won’t detail the pay issues here, except to note that taxi driving has been the long-established route in particular for immigrants to gain a foothold in their adopted country; with Uber, that route no longer exists because the pay is shit.

I have friends and relatives driving for Uber. They think it brings a bit of extra income. I think they’re bad at math.

As I’ve pointed out before, Uber has offloaded all its costs — the drivers buy their cars and pay for their gas and maintenance. As contractors, there’s the issue of business insurance, or more to the point, the absence of business insurance, which may ultimately end up bankrupting many of them.

(This, incidentally, is why Uber’s hope for driverless cars is delusional, even if the technology somehow works out. Now, the company gets its drivers to pay for capital costs, maintenance, fuel, insurance, and labour. With driverless cars, the company itself will absorb all those costs and still expects to turn a profit. How does that make sense? If I could short Uber driverless car stock, I would. But I digress.)

It doesn’t make financial sense to drive for Uber except in the sense that you need money today, even if it means you’re essentially trading future costs for today’s income.

Sure, there’s a frightening large pool of desperately poor people out there who will take any work for even ultra-low wages, but surely we can do better than this.

Also, too, Uber is a horrible company.

4. Prompt payment

There’s a group called the Nova Scotia Prompt Payment Coalition, which describes itself as “a province-wide coalition led by the Construction Association of Nova Scotia and includes contractors, unions, suppliers, general contractors, trade contractors, and anyone else who is invested in working to convince the provincial government to enact appropriate payment legislation that would establish minimum norms for payment schedules.”

Yesterday, the group issued a press release:

“Our province needs a prompt payment solution that works for everyone including tradespeople, contractors, government and consumers,” said Tim Houtsma, member of the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction and a member of the coalition. “While this serious problem is being felt now in our industry, there is a risk to Nova Scotia’s competitiveness long-term if we do not take action to fix the issue.”

A 2018 survey of members of the Construction Association of Nova Scotia found:

  • 77 per cent of respondents indicated delayed payments were occurring most or all of the time on their projects.
  • 70 per cent believe the right legal framework does not exist to improve timeliness of payments.
  • 94 per cent indicate delayed payment increases the cost of doing business.
  • 67 per cent think delayed payment reduces their ability to bid work and expand their business.
  • 75 per cent indicated delayed payment increases the cost of project delivery.
  • 55 per cent agree or strongly agree that if paid in a more timely manner, their firm would increase the use of apprentices; while 53 per cent indicate they would hire more people.

“The existing law in Nova Scotia — the Builders Lien Act — is costly, cumbersome and inaccessible to 65 per cent of the construction industry,” said Duncan Williams, president of the Construction Association of Nova Scotia and another member of the coalition. “It addresses non-payment as opposed to delinquent payment and the lien rights of many in the industry will expire long before they realize they will not get paid.”

“We are asking that government immediately begin to work with our coalition to formulate and bring forward legislation before the end of 2018,” said Houtsma.

I have sympathy for contractors and workers waiting around forever having to go to extraordinary lengths to get paid. My perusal of court records finds scores of builders’ liens, reflecting that delays in payment is a regular occurrence, and seemingly standard practice — so common that even Dalhousie University and the Maritime Link project have had builders’ liens placed on them.

The problem isn’t restricted to the building industry. I work in media; most publications string freelancers along for many months, sometimes years, before paying them. And as freelance writer Luke O’Neil reported, some media companies are now using something called “FastFunds,” which in effect penalizes freelancers for getting paid quickly:

WorkMarket, the third party service that the Huffington Post and all of the Oath properties — Yahoo!, AOL, TechCrunch and others — uses to manage its accounts payable, was providing me the option to get paid earlier than I would normally, through something called FastFunds. That would be after forfeiting an ~8% cut, or around 195% APR to be clear. While that’s not quite the typical 400% a payday lender might charge — where the cost of borrowing $100 is between $15-30 if you manage to pay it back on time — it’s not that far off. If I preferred to wait another few weeks on top of the month plus I was currently waiting I could receive the full $700.

While WorkMarket insists that this is not the same thing as a payday loan, it’s not exactly clear how it differs in spirit. True, there are no penalties or debts assumed by the worker for late payments, but on the other hand the penalty is just moved to the front of the transaction.

WorkMarket was acquired by ADP, the financial services giant with $12.4 billion in revenue in 2017, earlier this year.

I have friends who work in accounts payable departments for a wide range of industries, and they assure me that a three-month or more delay in payment is common practice everywhere.

I understood delay in payment back in the days of high interest rates. It was still wrong, but there was a logic to it: keep the money in the bank as long as possible in order to maximize interest paid. But with interest rates so low today, delays seem to be simple dickishness: fuck you, make us pay you.

The captains of industry are horrible people.


Government

City

Tuesday

City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — I’m flying to Toronto this morning on a secret mission, so I’ll miss the meeting.

We’ll have guest writers for Wednesday’s and Thursday’s Morning Files. I always look forward to the varied voices, and they never disappoint.

Anyway, I wrote about what’s on the council agenda yesterday.

Wednesday

North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm, BMO Centre, Bedford) — the Seventh Day Adventists want to expand Sandy Lake Academy.

Province

Tuesday

Legislature sits (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House)

Wednesday

Legislature sits (Wednesday, 1pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Whose nation? Navigating a new era in Crown–Indigenous relations (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 1011, Rowe Building) — from the event listing:

​​​Indigenous communities have long sought political recognition and nationhood, but only recently have the affairs and governance of Canadian Indigenous peoples been recognized for containing some of the most pressing policy questions of our time, including questions about water governance, health practices, and self-determination. In May 2016, Canada officially removed its objector status to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, indicating the Crown’s intention to reset its relationship with Canadian Indigenous peoples. A new relationship, created on the principles of Nation to Nation governance, must be supported by a strong policy framework. In the coming years, Indigenous and Crown leaders will navigate through law and policy to determine how to address issues concerning resources, identity, autonomy and culture. This discussion focuses on some of the obstacles and opportunities decision-makers face as they try to reform our system of governance.

G.R.I.T. Resilience Training (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 1198, McCain Building) — sounds like some woo-woo nonsense to me.

Wednesday

Thesis Defence, Pathology (Wednesday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Dudley Chung weill defend his thesis, “Evaluating the Role of the COP9 Signalosome and Neddylation During Cytokinesis and in Response to DNA Damage. ”

The BRIC NS Student Seminar Series (Wednesday, 2:30pm, Room 266, Collaborative Health Education Building) —  Isaac Bai will talk about “Primary care prescribing patterns for patients on chronic and high dose opioid therapy: an observational study using electronic medical record data.” Brianna Richardson will talk about “Parental Prevention of Newborn Pain: Exploring educational strategies for promoting parental involvement in infant procedural pain management.”

Eva Nowak. Photo: Ellen Barbara Reitz/HHU

Gaining control over a bacterial endosymbiont – The long way from endosymbiont to organelle (Wednesday, 4pm, ​Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Eva Nowak from Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf will speak.

From Africville to Alton Gas: A Pop-Up Book Launch for There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities (Wednesday, 6pm, Halifax Central Library) — launch of Ingrid Waldron’s new book.

King’s

Wednesday

Miriam Toews. Photo: Carol Loewen

Miriam Toews (Wednesday, 7pm, The King’s Co-op bookstore) — she’ll discuss her latest book, Women Talking, with Pauline Dakin.


In the harbour

5:45am: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,580 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Boston; the Serenade is on a seven-day round-trip cruise out of Boston
6am: Bomar Rebecca, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
6:30am: AS Felicia, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Miami
6:30am: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
7am: Disney Magic, cruise ship with up to 2,456 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Baie Comeau; the Disney Magic is on a seven-day cruise from Quebec City to New York
7:30am: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, with up to 2,873 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Bar Harbor; the Norwegian Gem is on a nine-day cruise from New York to Quebec City
11am: Barge John J. Carrick, sails from McAsphalt for sea
12:30pm: Coral Queen, bulker, arrives at anchorage from Becancour, Quebec
2pm: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
3:30pm: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
4:30pm: Bomar Rebecca, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
5:45pm: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for Sydney
6:15pm: Disney Magic, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for New York
6:30pm: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John
7pm: Coral Queen, bulker, sails from anchorage for sea
8:30pm: AS Felicia, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea


Footnotes

A short Morning File today as I’m off to the airport. I hope the plane doesn’t crash.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. There is an alternative to Uber and current taxi system. Win win for everyone but I suspect that you need a big rich benefactor and maybe there is not enough business here to make it work. . . but they have it in Montreal and it is such a relief. . . AND they do not cost anymore. At least not that I noticed.

    Téo Taxi – Offering itself up as an antidote to Montreal’s taxi crisis allegedly set off by the emergence of UberX, the latter service which Téo and various investigative reports claim earns drivers a below minimum wage, ”at Téo, drivers are guaranteed a salary of $15 an hour with regular benefits, including two weeks of vacation. If they want, they can also work overtime for time and a half, in accordance with our labor laws.” Téo may very well change the face of the industry across Montreal, hopefully ensuring drivers are paid fair wages. Téo’s fleet is also composed of electric vehicles, reducing its carbon footprint in a way no other local competitor can currently lay claim.

    1. As a former Montrealer, Téo is fantastic. It’s a great solution, the app works just like Uber’s, and you don’t have to give money to rich Silicon Valley dickheads.

  2. Public entities would be far better served in getting competitive pricing on requirements if they changed their policy to “pay on receipt” instead of the 30 day provision. Many small businesses either do not bid or raise the cost of the bid to provide goods or services because they know it takes forever to get paid. I know from personal experience that the ability to pay quickly is a benefit for both the supplier and the end user.

  3. The Uber business model exploits outdated regulatory frameworks and public infrastructure to “disrupt” an existing order and turn a private profit. The entire “gig” economy is built on this model, as are most celebrated recent “innovations” such as invasive surveillence technologies, the data acquisition that makes social media profitable, and the tax avoidance that allowed Jeff Bezos to become the richest man in history. I’m happy that Uber has been convenient for so many, — convenience is nice — but without calculating the costs of doing business that are borne by the public, you really have no idea what you — we — are paying for your convenience.

  4. I’m impressed that both the pro and anti Uber arguments here are far better than what we are getting from local pundits and councillors (at least the ones I have heard and read). Their pro-Uber arguments generally are along the lines of 1) it’s technology and you can’t stop it; 2) every other city is doing it; 3) I don’t think we should intervene if that’s what people want (even though governments intervene over things people want all the time).

  5. In case it wasn’t clear from my previous comment: I’m no fan of Uber, and I’m not here to defend them. I also think taxi services in Halifax right now are terrible – unreliable, unsafe (both in terms of all the well-documented assaults and harassment and plain old bad driving) and generally unpleasant in my experience. If there was a third, better option, I’d be one of the first in line to sign up, and I’d be *happy* to pay more for it. Until then, I don’t think it’s justifiable to ban Uber just because they aren’t a big improvement on the status quo.

  6. In an RFP, HRM came up with their own definition of Net 30. Instead of 30 contiguous days, they said it was 30 work days:

    “The Halifax Regional Municipality does business on a net 30 day basis. The number of days refers to working days, (excluding weekends and holidays), from receipt of invoice.”

    I objected to the auditor general of the day, but my correspondence went unanswered.

    1. I don’t have an rfp readily available in my files to quote from, but 3 years ago or so HRM was also offering to pay in a more timely manner in return for a discount. Despicable.

  7. A single anecdote about a single fatal accident, no matter how emotive, proves nothing about the safety of Uber vs. taxis. You know this.

    The system of municipal licensing of taxi operations has encouraged monopolistic ownership providing wretched service in inaccessible vehicles. The system invites political favouritism to providers who donate to councillors.

    If Taxi owners wanted to fight back by offering better service, why haven’t they begun using apps with the helpful capabilities of the Uber and Lyft apps?

    Like Nick and Chris Nickerson, my Uber experiences in other cities have been vastly better than any Halifax taxi ride ever.

    Unfortunately, we have elected a council of hip social engineers who constantly dream up rules they can impose to improve the character, morality, and lifestyles of their misbegotten constituents.

  8. I’ve thought a great deal about this Uber thing, especially since I don’t have a car and find myself wanting certain food delivered, which seems only to be available by Uber now. I’d prefer to give someone at least a guaranteed minimum number of hours and guaranteed minimum wage to deliver it to me, and I’ll gladly pay a delivery fee. I worked in a pizza joint in my 20’s and the delivery drivers were workers at the restaurant who also delivered. Sometimes they would get tips, and the delivery fees went to pay for the wear and tear on their cars. But they at least knew that they would make a certain guaranteed amount of money just for showing up and swapping their own personal time for time towards a profit-making company.

    People are comparing Uber it to the current taxi industry. Neither one is perfect. So which is less bad? I keep finding myself agreeing with Tim in principle because I don’t want to support horrible companies who pay people crap wages. I just don’t. But people everywhere don’t seem to give a shit about what people make or how bad a company is: they just want great service for as low a price as possible, no matter what the human cost. Theoretically, if a cab-like company existed that paid its employees a decent wage and made it possible for them to have a good living and also provided excellent service– but also cost more than another company who didn’t provide these things–which one should I take if I really care about people? That is the kind of taxi or taxi-type industry I want here in Halifax. Anything less than what we currently have just feels wrong.

  9. I see the giant tech corporation defenders have logged on.

    I’m sure Travis Kalanick appreciates all your kind words as he rolls around in his billions of dollars he made off the cheap labour of his “employees.”

  10. As a couple other people have said, Uber certainly has its issues, but the arguments I’ve seen trotted out here and elsewhere to oppose letting them operate in Halifax are pretty ridiculous.

    Uber is unsafe? Yeah, let’s take a look at the safety record for the taxi industry here over the last few years and see how it stacks up:
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/halifax-taxi-complaints-investigation-1.3285559
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/former-halifax-cab-driver-facing-two-sexual-assault-charges-1.4683823
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/sexual-assault-case-against-halifax-taxi-driver-dismissed-1.4249233
    https://globalnews.ca/news/2832687/halifax-taxi-industry-in-crisis-after-sex-assaults/

    Uber doesn’t train its drivers properly? Not much training for cab drivers in this city either:
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/rfp-taxi-driver-training-halifax-1.4104357

    Uber hires its drivers as contractors, not real employees? So do cab companies right here in Halifax – there’s a blurb right at the bottom of Casino Taxi’s webpage that talks about their “400 self-employed, independantly (sic) contracted taxi drivers”. I’d be willing to bet they don’t exactly make big bucks either.

    Uber (at a corporate level) has issues with discrimination and harassment? Harassment is apparently such a big problem with taxis here that there’s significant demand for a women-only cab service:
    https://globalnews.ca/news/4302999/female-only-taxis-halifax/

    I’ve used Uber in a few different cities and my experiences have been better in every way than taking cabs in Halifax. So much better, in fact, that I’d *happily* pay more for the service to make sure drivers get paid fairly (for the time being, I just make sure to tip really well). Again, Uber has problems, but I’ve yet to see a coherent argument as to how it’s any worse than the existing taxi industry in Nova Scotia.

  11. For women in Halifax, Uber is no safer than any existing taxi or limo service. Except we will get to report sexual assaults through an app. How innovative!

    1. In the uber app, the driver’s profile is logged, along with the times and exact route taken. If the driver is a criminal, that won’t probably won’t stop them, but at least there will be a lot more data and evidence if something terrible occurs.

      1. I appreciate the comment, and I’m pretty sure the pro-Uber commenters here will get their way before too long. And that’s fine, because they will probably get their cheaper fares, in apps they already know how to use, and everything will continue to be fine and even more convenient for them.

        And women who already do not feel safe in this mode of transportation can create more data if something terrible occurs.

        1. Ultimately woman-only cabs are the only perfect option – unless the driver is physically restrained in the seat (obviously not remotely safe for the driver) there is nothing that can be done to prevent a driver who has never assaulted anyone from assaulting someone.

          On the Halifax subreddit someone recently posted about how their fiancé was assaulted in a cab, and because she paid cash and was too drunk to remember details, the odds of the driver ever appearing in court let alone being prosecuted are almost nil. Wouldn’t happen with Uber – but that doesn’t mean that Uber is the only solution.

          1. Yeah that’s what I’m saying. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the status quo, in terms of tracking these people down.

  12. When you say that Uber drivers aren’t employees and don’t get the right insurance (or, to further the standard argument), don’t pay EI or CPP, and otherwise operate as a cash business does, then you have to compare that to how Halifax cabbies operate.

    Are any of them not independent contractors? What happens when a cabbie is accused of assault? The *dispatch company* stops sending them calls, but they keep their license. I guess then do only street fares. And 12 to 18 months later when the hearing happens, the taxi commission, in keeping with the importance of the cabbie having a job, does nothing to them.

    In Halifax a cabbie needs a special drivers license and a taxi license from the city; there is an exam but not 17 day safety class to take, or for Uber to force away. A post-Uber Halifax would not have worse training as you can’t get worse than no training required.

    The Casino app is great for calling a cab. Absolute useless for tracking routes or making payment.

    Uber corporate has its issues, but Uber cars (except UberX) and Uber drivers are far better vetted and supervised than Halifax cabbies; the Uber experience is overall vastly superior to the assault-y, stop-sign ignoring, broken POS terminal crap shoot of dirty cars that is that Halifax cab scene.

    1. I agree with your point.

      The decision is also made by the drivers if they want to drive Uber or not. Nobody has a gun to their heads. Tim’s point is they may be making a bad business decision – well, that’s their decision to make. Some may make a dollar, some may not – that’s how business usually works. Nobody is forcing them to drive for Uber, and nobody is forcing me to take an Uber. I have agency and can make the decision on my own with having to kowtow to a government protected cartel.

      Using anecdote rather than data, Tim mentions Uber experiences that went wrong, but anecdotally, I took scary cab rides in my time that could have gone bad. I hardly think the Halifax cabs are any great shakes for safety either, certainly not for female passengers if recent events in the news are anything to go by.

      The current taxi business models in most cities are ridiculous and inefficient, set up to benefit the few over the many. If ever there was a business model that needed smashing to smithereens, the sooner the better, it is the urban taxi racket. It’s even worse than the government liquor racket.

      Is management of this site against AirBnB too? It’s essentially the same thing but with apartments, and Halifax is full of AirBnB offerings.

  13. I wonder about the taxi industry. Obviously there are serious issues with Uber – but if taxi driving was a good job, it wouldn’t be done almost exclusively by immigrants. I have to wonder how much of the cab fare actually goes to the driver rather than the owners of the taxi companies.

    I suspect that taxi driving, like so many other industries, is a shitty industry dependent on a rotating supply of poorly paid immigrants to maintain its profit margins.

    1. I will also add that the taxi experience (whether a traditional cab or an Uber – I’ve taken an Uber once, and it was a vastly better experience than any cab I’ve ever taken) and the smartphone is a fascinating example of how technology reduces humans to parts of a machine.

      I remember, a couple winters ago, I took a taxi from my apartment, which is on a major street in Halifax, to the Canadian Tire on Quinpool. Ordinarily I would walk, but the weather was pretty awful so I spent the $15 or so on a cab. The driver – obviously a recent immigrant with very poor English – used a smartphone to navigate.

      The immigrant taxi driver who just moved to wherever and needs directions is not a new phenomenon – it used to be the case that sometimes you would have to give your cab driver directions, which of course I could have done – I’m not holding it against the guy that he didn’t know the way. The problem is, if it wasn’t for the smartphone, I would have had to give him directions, which would probably help him learn his way around faster, improve his English and probably have a more pleasant day. Instead, the smartphone basically reduces him to a vision system for a GPS-guided machine.

  14. The Ingrid Waldron book ‘There’s something in the water’ has significant errors, especially regarding the aborted siting of a modern engineered landfill 5 kilometres from a home in North Preston. ( The nearest homes were owned by white people on the Myra Road in Porters Lake). I bought my copy 4 months ago at Bookmark. If anyone fancies living less than 2 kilometres downhill from the former Sackville dump there are expensive lots available at Indigo Shores. Back in February a buyer paid $1.8 million for a 6 bed 5 baths home 2 km from the former dump.
    The Otter Lake landfill is 3 kms from the African Canadian community in Beechville.

    1. Correction: “..modern engineered landfill 4.9 miles from N Preston’ and Otter Lake is 3 miles from Beechville.

  15. Here’s the thing, if you don’t like Uber, don’t use it. There’s lots of people would do want to use it, for a number of reasons, and one person’s terrible story shouldn’t mean that an entire service is shut down. Uber has about 6-7 million rider PER DAY. It’s convenient, being able to pay through the app, see the driver’s rating, etc.

    There’s yet another story of a sexual assault by a taxi driver in Halifax this week. Maybe we should use that one terrible story to shut down the taxi service?

    Again, if you don’t like it, no one is forcing you to use it, or drive for them.

    1. The usual if it works for me argument then screw you.

      Uber is an evil company with an evil business model. It treated it’s contractors instead of employees (they are) and turns a blind eye to the problems it has caused with it’s “disruption model” – New York, increased traffic congestion and taxi driver suicides to name a few.

      The added bonus is that a good portion of every fare leaves the province and goes to feed the silicon valley machine. Kinda like all that money that could go to advertising for local businesses that go to Google and Facebook instead of staying in the local economy.

      1. My experience has been that most taxi drivers want ‘cash only’ so as not to have to declare the income. The Uber drives are at least paid for electronically so the income is traceable/taxable. The cars are usually in much better shape and the vetting of drivers seems as questionable as taxis. Usually it’s the same drivers.