Sunday, March 27, 2005
Insurance Rates in Ontario
I tried to get some information about a change in insurance rates from my insurer. The agent I spoke to on the phone did not know how to answer my question about new legislation and their response by lowering rates; so I asked for the number for their Ombudsman. They have one so I phoned and left a VM. That was about a month and a half ago now; but I'm too busy at the moment to get pissed-off and start a line of complaints. Stay tuned.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Even more updates on Pit Bull Ban
Identification of pit bull
19. If it is alleged in any court proceeding under this Act that a dog is a pit bull, the onus of proving that the dog is not a pit bull lies on the owner of the dog.
Once again this is from Bill 132. Well, I'm no lawyer but I was always led to understand that the burden of proof rests with the accuser, not the accused. When this law hits the books I can see the lawyers having a field day with it.
Update on Ontario Politics Rant
McGuinty Government Helps Protect Children against Internet Predators
Backgrounder: Combating Internet Crimes Against Children In Ontario
McGuinty Government Works To Protect Children From Internet Crimes
I still have a bone to pick (couldn't resist :) ) over the Pit Bull Ban.
The specific legislation that I'm talking about is this:
Bill 132 2004
An Act to amend the Dog Owners' Liability Act to increase public safety in relation to dogs, including pit bulls, and to make related amendments to the Animals for Research Act
Pit bull ban
6. Except as permitted by this Act or the regulations, no person shall,
(a) own a pit bull;
(b) breed a pit bull;
(c) transfer a pit bull, whether by sale, gift or otherwise;
(d) abandon a pit bull other than to a pound operated by or on behalf of a municipality, Ontario or a designated body;
(e) allow a pit bull in his or her possession to stray;
(f) import a pit bull into Ontario; or
(g) train a pit bull for fighting.
I won't bore you any further with the legal bits, suffice to say that this specific prohibition against "pit bulls" is not really workable. Incidentally, making (g) cover all dogs would basically mean the end of police canine units. Unfortunately, the bill is already through second reading and it looks sure to pass.
If you really want to read the entire text of the bill, and those it ammends then I direct you to the following links:
Bill 132, Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act
Bill 161, Dog Owners' Liability Amendment Act
Animals for Research Act
Dog Owners Liability Act
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Ontario Politics Rant
January 24, 2005
Tony Ruprecht, MPP
RE: Three issues of concern, Public Insurance, Pit Bull Ban and Internet Child Protection.
On public insurance I would like to know what you personally, and the Liberal Party of Ontario, is doing to alleviate the problem of high auto insurance rates. I think most of your constituents would agree that the current average rates in Ontario are much too high. I believe I am backed up by the publicly available financial records of the insurance industry when I say they that are now gouging the consumer.
I would like to point out that I am not against the idea of competition to create value for the consumer, however this theory appears to be losing its grip — in my humble opinion — in light of my insurance rates and those of my neighbours. I believe that the way to set things right, for many consumers, is to start a public insurance company that will set some kind of stability in pricing and security for consumers who have poorer than average luck. I am originally from British Columbia and although the province has public insurance — the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) — there are also companies who provide private coverage. This actually serves two purposes in that ICBC is the registration authority for vehicles and an insurer of last resort, if the consumer cannot get their liability coverage from a private insurer. Is the government looking at a system similar in nature to that of BC?
On the pit bull ban I will say that I disagree with the direction the government has chosen to pursue. It is reactionary and worse — in my humble opinion — will be ineffective in curbing vicious animal incidents. Once again I point to animal control policies I have witnessed in other jurisdictions as example. Before 2002 I lived in the Province of Alberta, in the City of Calgary and I point to the differences I saw when I first came to Toronto — referring to leash laws — as compared with those in Calgary. I was surprised to find people walking their dogs down XXXXX St. near my home without a leash. I have a very nice dog and so I thought it was quite refreshing at first to have the freedom to take him to the park and leave the leash behind. However, there is a big downside to this attitude in that it encourages irresponsible pet ownership. Calgary actually has very few vicious animal incidents and I believe it is the ‘zero tolerance’ leash laws in the city that largely contribute to this. As my MPP would you please bring this up with the Attorney General as I believe his law will actually make things worse and cause the needless destruction of hundreds of very good family pets.
On Internet child protection: I don’t have any quick comments for this one. However, I am an information technology professional and once again, in my humble opinion, I cannot see this one working. Right from the start I can tell that this law abrogates the provincial privacy act and the federal privacy act. It also seems — from a technical standpoint — very similar in nature to the recent court case levelled at Internet Service Providers (ISPs) by the recording industry, which required them to collect and remit private information about their customers. I believe that the ISPs will fight against this law using the same precedents and it will be defeated. The losers in this case will be the parents who seem to be at a loss to curb the seemingly innocent, but potentially dangerous, use of Internet Chat Rooms by their children.
As I said I do not have an easy answer for this one but I would like to know what, if anything, else was proposed to deal with this problem, because once again I find the government response to be reactionary and poorly thought out.
If you would like to speak further on these issues please do not hesitate to call or send email.
I know it might be a bit of a pile-on to hit a politician with more than one issue at a time, but when I talked to him a few days later he did try his best to address my concerns. I didn't get a chance to talk to him until late - and he was still hard at work for me at 11 PM.
Saturday, February 05, 2005
Yet another AC Strike update
I did find out about the incident that sparked the whole ugly scene. It had to do with company policy over time-punch cards. Apparently, a habit had developed with the hourly people to punch their friends in and out of work; which was apparently tolerated by management. That day, January 19th, one manager decided to take a stand and fire several employees for punch card violations. This is what sparked the walk out as other unionized employees found out about the heavy handed and unexpected action by management.
I'm sure that those employees will be happy to know that Air Canada management staff traveling that day were not inconvenienced too much over their bold stance.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Update on Air Canada Strike
This was a comment that I sent to George Stroumboulopoulos, who is the too-cool-for-school host of the CBC's new and hip show The Hour.
I just caught the show for the 1st time tonight and I was pleasantly surprised. I was entertained and informed.
Got a story for you that happened to me last week while I was stuck at Dorval on Wens night following the wildcat strike. I was sitting in the departure lounge at 1AM Thursday morning (after being there for 4 hours) and a group of drunk AC managers came in and got on a special flight back to Pearson - which was supposed to be shut down for the night (from what I heard at 8:30PM earlier). My flight left at 5:30AM so I thought of this as one of those special moments in aviation history that might be interesting and informative.
As yet I have received no response from either Mr. Stroumboulopoulos or his staff. I should say however that even though I seem to be quiet critical of George in this blog I was being sincere with regards to my compliment to him. I was pleasantly surprised by the content of The Hour.
Stoking the Flames at Air Canada
Sent to The Toronto Star, January 20, 2005:
Delayed Due To Strike
I was sitting in a bar in Dorval, it was 8 PM on Wednesday, January 19; I had my boarding pass in hand, I had been through security, I had plenty of time to savor my beer and calamari before my hour flight back to Toronto at 10PM. But then I heard the announcement that my flight, and in fact all remaining flights to Pearson for the evening, were cancelled due to a wildcat strike.
Well, I fumed, drank my beer, ate my calamari, called my wife, who logged onto Air Canada’s web-site from home and check out the latest information for me. She didn’t find out anything more than I already knew. However, she did come up with an Air Canada reservations number that I could call to find out more information. I called the number and it was busy — go figure.
From the bar I went to the AC desk at Gate 2 to find out what, if anything, the airline was going to do about the cancellations. There was an AC employee at the desk, but she wasn’t answering questions, so I went to the RapidAir desk, which was right beside Gate 2, and asked about alternate flights. She booked me on AC 483 for the next morning at 5:30 AM. It was about 8:30 PM, my flight was in 9 hours. I asked the RapidAir attendant if AC would be putting up stranded passengers for the night. She told me to save my receipts and submit them. I thought, yeah right — my lawyer will be contacting your lawyer, but said nothing and walked away with my new booking information.
I talked to a few other stranded passengers and some planned to drive the 6 hours back to Toronto, one had made arrangements to take VIA Rail, but I decided to wait the 9 hours and fly back to Toronto.
After some hours of waiting I wandered over to Gate 12, where my flight was to depart at 5:30 AM and decided to wait it out there for a while. A few minutes later two flight attendants entered the area and typed some data into the computers and started to talk. They spoke mostly in French and being the good Western Canadian that I am, I do not understand French very well. A few minutes after that 7 more people entered the area. They were laughing and joking together, talking about the wildcat strike. I figured they were drunk; or, like me, frustrated passengers using humor to keep their spirits up for what was likely to be a long wait.
Apparently, they were waiting to get on a special flight heading back to Toronto. I just listened and tried to concentrate on writing but I was too tired, and they were too loud, so I put away my laptop and leaned against my chair.
One guy joked about the fact that the flight attendants were going with them, “Hey, we got stewardesses,” he said, “at least we get drink service.”
Someone said jokingly, “I think there’s a private jet going out — maybe you could get on that.”
No had been speaking to me up until this point — I don’t think they actually expected anyone to be at the gate so early — but I jokingly cut in with a comment like, “I’ll take that.”
Then one of the AC employees waiting for her flight turned to me and said, “You know we work for AC.”
I said, “Yeah, I guessed that.”
At about 1:30AM — I had been waiting for 5 hours at that point — their plane landed and a flight crew entered the area of Gate 12. The AC employees then filed out the door for their flight back to Toronto.
On the way out one waved to me, “I’m sorry,” she said. I shrugged and waved back. What do you do? I was getting on the 5:30 AM flight (AC 483) which was still 4 hours away and they were now going home. Sucks to be me.