Are taxis an essential service?

 It would seem that taxis in Calgary are indeed some sort of essential service considering how regulated and controlled they are.

 If anybody has tried to get a taxi in Calgary during peak hours they clearly understand how dismally our taxi industry is failing us. If you are indeed lucky enough to get through to a dispatcher on your first call, you can often look forward to being told that you have an exceedingly long wait for a cab (if indeed the cab shows up at all). 

 Much of the reason for this terrible service stems from the very strictly limitted number of cab licenses in the city of Calgary. We have a taxi commission in Calgary that seems to do little more than meet on a regular basis and try to find reasons to justify the starving of cab licenses from Calgary consumers.

 Here we can see where the council has kindly decided that the booming city of Calgary is worthy of 100 new taxi licenses in 2006.  

 Now look at the gauntlet that has to be run should one decide to apply for one of these rare and valuable licenses.

A) Each applicant for the Accessible and Regular TPL selection process must:

  1. hold a valid and current Taxi Driver’s Licence (TDL);
  2. not currently hold an TPL;
  3. pay a non-refundable application fee of $100 to cover the cost of administering the distribution of licences; and

B) Each selected applicant of the Regular Class TPL must:            

  1. Prove they have been driving in the taxi industry in Calgary a minimum of 1500 hours within the immediate past 12 consecutive months from the date of the selection of their name;
  2. Have a satisfactory record of taxi service in the industry and with Livery Transport Services; and
  3. Pay a new non-refundable TPL fee of $5,000; 


So in this process of “random” selection, assuming a person fits that long list of qualifications to enter the draw has to pay a non-refundable $100 fee. Should the applicant be lucky enough to be one of the select few pulled out of the hat, they then will pay a non-refundable fee of $5,000????


 So much for leaving room for the little guy.


 A cottage industry for these rare and valuable taxi licenses has sprung up now.


 How does this impact tourisim in Calgary? How many bad experiences have business and recreational travellers had in wasting their time away in hopes of getting a cab? How many people have given up on waiting for a late-night cab and decided to take the risk of driving while impaired?


 Now this enforced strangling of service certainly helps the car rental market in Calgary and the industry of those companies that own the few licenses that there are. Calgary consumers however are losing in a big way.


 What is so special about taxis that they need all this regulation? I truly am stumped here.


 I understand a degree of regulation. Drivers should be licensed for driving taxis and their vehicles should have a standard of safety to pass before taking passengers. Aside from that, why do we need all this regulation? Do we have a board that issues and limits licencing for grocery stores? Hardware stores? Comic book stores? Not that I know of.


 Calgary is a booming city and is adjusting to becoming a center of business worldwide. It is beyond time that we rid ourselves of this idiotic over-regulation and treat taxis as the business that they are in the free market. Our current system and service is nothing less than an embarrassment.


Did they hurt your feelings Ed?

 Lately it has been coming up in the news that Ed Stelmach is considering implementing a gag law (similar to the federal one that Steven Harper used to oppose) that would restrict or eliminate third-party advertising during a provincial election.

 The federal gag-law has been in and out of courts for years now and while there has traditionally been opposition to the law in Alberta, the courts outside of Alberta have held the law up as a justifiable restriction on free speech. The National Citizens Coalition went to court numerous times trying to get that law struck when Harper led them. Now that Harper is on the throne, it appears that the gag-law is no longer a priority.

 The trend of governments in power trying their hardest to squash critical and open comment is disturbing and dangerous. This must be fought on every level.

 I never would have thought that here in the heartland of individualism and open opinion (Alberta of course) that we would have our own Premier speaking of bringing in such legislation.

 Those who support these kind of assaults on free-speech have always claimed that by allowing third-party advertising during elections, that the public could be wrongly swayed on their electoral choices. In the last election in Alberta, labor groups wasted union worker’s contributions to the tune of millions in order to run attack ads against the Progressive Conservative government. The outcome of these ads was for the left leaning parties to be decimated at the polls. The NDP lost party status in the legislature and Stelmach’s majority increased.

 It is pretty obvious that third party advertising does not have much impact on the electorate in these situations. The voters are bright enough to see through the propoganda and make their electoral decision on their own.

 As the impact of third-party advertising has been recently proven to be rather limited, why would Ed Stelmach be rumbling about banning such advertising? I can only assume that while it clearly did not impact the vote, the advertising hurt Eddie’s feelings. Eddie did not like such open criticism of his government and he is willing to stomp on free speech in order to stop that.

 In the future there may be some important third-party voices to be heard at election time. These voices may be promoting property rights, environmental issues, crime issues or any number of concerns at the time that are being ignored by traditional parties. It is vital that citizen’s be allowed to put forth their opinions at election time.

 Many people say they are tired of the endless partisan battles at election time. Well for people tired of that, keep in mind that the only voices legally allowed to speak during elections will be political parties if Ed Stelmach has his way. Remember, Stelmach is the man who likes to attack student bloggers with threats of legal action. He may seem like a sweety, but he sure gets his hackles up when some dare speak against him.

 Free speech is a vital right and Ed Stelmach is threatening it.

 That is a pretty high price to pay to spare Ed Stelmach’s feelings.

More fabricated racism from Warren Kinsella.

 Perhaps it is that Warren Kinsella has lost any means of national publication or something, but the fellow continually goes farther and farther onto limbs in hopes of exposing racists where there are none.

 I guess it stands to reason considering how supportive Kinsella is of Richard Warman who is known for using questionable entrapment methods in hopes of smoking racists out of the woodwork on discussion sites. All the self-identified racists, nazis and such have already been before the HRC tribunals and low and behold it turns out that crusaders such as Warren Kinsella can’t find any more of them. This sort of undercuts his case that Canada is rife with neo-nazis that need to be charged before we are overrun with them thus he has moved on to outright fabricating racist statements as he can’t find real ones.

 The prime target of Kinsella’s fabrications these days appears to be Mark Steyn. Clearly the envy is getting to Warren Kinsella. While Kinsella can’t even maintain a position as an occasional columnist with the National Post and has slipped to the point of running an increasingly backwater blog while trying to turn rocks over in hopes of finding a hidden nazi, Mark Steyn is an internationally acclaimed journalist with a publication on bestseller lists. Rather than look inward to try and remedy his own shortcomings and perhaps better himself, like a petulant child Warren Kinsella has moved on to trying to besmirch the reputation of those who have surpassed him such as Mark Steyn.

 Rob Breakenridge with QR77 has done some excellent digging on his blog and has documented Kinsella’s antics quite well. On today’s posting, Breakenridge points out that while Macleans has run a counterpoint to Steyn’s publication that was written by prominent Muslim people, Kinsella tries to imply that Macleans has offered no room for Muslims to put out their point of view.

 Next Kinsella harped that a letter that he had written to Macleans was not published.

 The text of Kinsella’s letter is on his site here.

  Now the portion where Kinsella claims Steyn was going on about “gooks”… Yes, the word gook was used in Steyn’s column but it was not Steyn calling people such and the word was taken completely out of context as can be seen here.

 Pretty pathetic on Kinsella’s part.

Here, Warren Kinsella trys to attribute a whole pile of statements to Steyn.

 Here Breakenridge completely debunks Kinsella’s fabicated pile of crap. 

 Warren Kinsella’s ravings wither rather quickly when exposed to the light of facts.

 In Kinsella’s letter he uses terms such as “wogs” and works to attribute them to Steyn. When put into context of course, Steyn called nobody any such thing. Breakenridge masterfully points that out here.

 Fortunately for Kinsella, Steyn is made of better stuff than WK will ever be. Steyn’s skin is not so thin and he does not threaten lawsuits at the drop of a hat as Kinsella does. The things Kinsella has implied and attributed to Steyn are far more slanderous than anything Kinsella is claiming in his latest round of shakey threats.

 When embittered fabrications are the best Kinsella can come up with, one simply has to assume that Warren Kinsella really has no solid case to make.

 Thanks again to Rob Breakenridge for pulling out the facts on Kinsella’s blatherings. The fight for free speech is getting hot in Canada and censors like Kinsella clearly will stop at nothing to try and gag the populace.

The right not to have your feelings hurt.

 Rights, rights and more rights. 

 Due to constant and often strange interpretations of Canada’s charter of rights, the rights of Canadians are constantly under discussion. This is a good thing as rights are pretty much one of the most important things that we have as citizens in a democratic nation.

 In Canada it would appear that murderers and chronic escapees have the right to walk away from minimum security prisons at will.  What confounds me with these prisoners exercising their right to escape and further terrorize Canadians is why these men would choose to walk away from Ferndale Institution in the first place. This is the “prison” that has offered such things as horseback riding, pizza delivery and until recently a nine-hole golf course.

 The golf course was closed a few years ago. Due to the latest escape (walkaway) by a declared dangerous offender, there are only 9 remaining dangerous offenders currently in Ferndale. It is doubtless that those who thrive on pampering vicious criminals such as the John Howard Society will be lobbying and howling that these prisoners have the right to golfing and we should bring back their course before the remaining 9 murderers and such choose to walk away in hopes of finding a new pitch and putt.

 Myself, I am rather heartless. I don’t care if I hurt the feelings of murderers, rapists and those who feel that these animals have as many rights as law abiding criminals. I am proposing an offensive and profound concept that may reduce the number of walkaways in Canada’s prisons in this link. I hope this idea is not too offensive.

 Now, putting aside the rights of murderers, rapists and such to enjoy pizza delivery and long walks in the rain, Canada has been tied up lately in the battle for what I would consider to be a much more important right. That right of course is freedom of speech.

 Most often the discussion of rights comes up when one right clashes with another. The assumed right for one not to have their feelings hurt trumps the right to free speech in the eyes of way too many in this nation.

 The latest in the series of SLAPP suits against journalists, media outlets and bloggers who have dared to speak freely is one threatened by Canadian Human Rights Commission lawyer Giacomo (the drama queen) Vigna against Ezra Levant.  The crime Ezra appears to have committed here was to dare to post a transcript of Vigna’s rather pathetic performance in a human rights hearing and to make fun of it. For those not familiar with the transcript, I will paste the highlights below.

MR. VIGNA: Sorry. Mr. Chair, I don’t have the flu but I don’t feel in a serene state of mind to proceed with the file today. I don’t feel very well. I feel dizzy, I feel anxiety, and I am not in a serene state of mind to proceed with this file today.  

I have a lot of things worrying me right now and I don’t want to elaborate, but my colleague said, Mr. Fine, there are some certain incidents that have occurred which I don’t feel at liberty to elaborate right now, which have had an impact on my ability to proceed in a professional way on this file, at least for today, because I wouldn’t be rendering the Commission a just service by proceeding in this condition.  

I am not dying, Mr. Chair, I don’t have the flu, but I am not mentally capable of proceeding under these circumstances.

THE CHAIRPERSON: But the witness is here?

MR. VIGNA: The witness is here. It’s not the question of the witness. The witness is here. I thought until this morning that I would proceed, but I really don’t feel primarily mentally able to proceed, and physically too.

MS. KULASZKA: I am very concerned about this very hush hush allegation that some sort of breach of security has happened. The only people who have been here for the last two days are us, either counsel or a representative of the party. No one else has been here in this room. I know of no incident outside that’s happened….

MR. CHRISTIE: I have heard two explanations which are as frivolous as any I have ever heard in justifying an adjournment of a whole proceeding… To say I am not feeling well, but sit here and talk about it, is inconsistent. There is no medical certificate, and I heard very faintly Mr. Vigna say I’m not physically sick, I don’t have a serene state of mind. Very few of us in the difficulties we face always have a serene state of mind. I don’t know what that means.

This is not a case of a nervous breakdown or a mental state justifying a psychiatric examination. I am certain of that. To say I don’t feel like doing it today is insulting… 

MR. VIGNA: Mr. Chair, I will provide a medical certificate.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Please sit down, Mr. Vigna.

MR. VIGNA: I feel insulted by that comment.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Please sit down.

 The defendant in this case had to spend the time and money to be at this hearing and pay for his lawyer to fly there. What was the result? Vigna puts on his little dramatic performance claiming not to be “serene” enough to proceed and has the hearing deferred.

How can one not mock Mr. Vigna’s performance? Even 6 year olds trying to get out of school are more creative in their excuses for non-attendance (and often much more convincing). Mark Steyn posted a great little musical suggestion on the issue.

 Vigna’s little dark comedy in the hearing is public record. There is no reason that this cannot be posted on other sites. What Mr. Vigna is suing for is that he was made fun of and his feelings are hurt. Nothing untrue was posted by Mr. Levant. If there was damage to Vigna’s character in any of this, it is directly due to the little swooning tantrum that Vigna had in the hearing. Perhaps Mr. Vigna should choose less public venues when he decides to put on such performances.

 Warren Kinsella has gone after freedominion and the chronic opponent of free speech Richard Warman has already jumped on Ezra in the lawsuit frenzy, I guess we may as well have every other hypersensitive weenie who has been to a human rights hearing jump on.

 Lets get this straight people. There is no right not to have your feelings hurt nor is there a right not to be offended! Get over it.

 Life can be tough. We hear people say things that offend us at times. People say things that hurt our feelings. Living and dealing with hurt feelings is simply part of the price of free speech. Suck it up princesses.

 We have freedom of religion. That is a vital and important right and it is constantly under attack as well.

 In the mixture of freedom of religion and freedom of speech we often get what some may consider offensive clashes. Such is life.

 One person who constantly exercises his right to free speech regarding religion is Pat Condell. This man has an incredible gift for humorously pointing out some of the rather glaring flaws in organized religion. Mr. Condell is quite fair in that I see no discrimination among the religions that he cuts into. He nails them all.

 Doubtless many religious people will find Mr. Condell’s view on the world offensive. Should Condell be silenced for this? I am a dedicated Pastafarian in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Perhaps Pat will take an offensive run at my faith sometime. You can all rest assured that even if I took offense or my feelings were hurt, I would never for a second question Mr. Condell’s right to speak his mind.

 If you are easily offended by shots at religion, may I suggest that you do not click on the video links below. If you have a sense of humour and like a no holds barred look at religions, I strongly suggest that you listen to a few of Mr. Condell’s rants.

 Pat Condell covers our Canadian issues below.:

 Oh dhimmi Canada

 Here Mr. Condell covers faith in general.

The curse of faith

 If you like those, you will find many more of Pat’s videos here.

 If you are offended or your feelings get hurt, I wont offer some sort of false apology. I really don’t care.