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Develop funding plan to help Greyhound, NDP leader Singh urges Trudeau

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  • OTTAWA — Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the Liberal government to come up with a way to keep Greyhound buses on Canadian highways and servicing remote northern communities.

    In a letter to Justin Trudeau. Singh urges the prime minister to take “immediate action” and develop a funding plan that would prevent Greyhound from shutting down crucial routes in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, northwestern Ontario and rural British Columbia.

    “This federal funding plan must ensure there is no interruption or reduction in bus service, so no community is left stranded,” Singh writes in the letter released Wednesday.

    He also urges Trudeau to enlist the help of impacted provinces and municipalities in coming up with the plan.

    Greyhound Canada announced Monday that its cutting its passenger and delivery services in those regions, triggering outrage and apprehension among rural and First Nations communities that rely heavily on the company’s long-ubiquitous coaches and shipping services.

    The company is blaming a 41 per cent decline in ridership since 2010, persistent competition from subsidized national and inter-regional passenger transportation services, the growth of new low-cost airlines, regulatory constraints and the continued growth of car ownership.

    Singh said the cancellations — only the latest in Greyhound’s steady string of service reductions — would create a massive gap in transit services and make it all but impossible for many to access to jobs, health care, education, family and public services.

    He also urged Trudeau to listen to those worried about safety, citing the notorious stretch of B.C. highway known as the Highway of Tears, a region where many Indigenous women have gone missing.  

    “If your government does not intervene to ensure service continues, you will be increasing these perilous conditions that put so many Indigenous women and girls in danger.”  

    Rachel Rappaport, a spokeswoman for Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott, said the government recognizes the impact that Greyhound’s decision will have on First Nations communities, including those who require transportation for medical appointments.

    “We also recognize the serious concerns being raised regarding the safety and security of Indigenous women and girls. We will be reaching out to Indigenous partners to better understand the impacts on their communities, and we will continue to analyze the situation as we look to identify options to address these serious concerns.”

    Transport Canada said Greyhound Canada operates on a commercial basis with no support from the federal government, and that there are no existing federal programs that would subsidize a private intercity bus carrier.

    “As the economic regulation of interprovincial bus carriers in federal jurisdiction has been delegated to the provinces and territories, under the federal Motor Vehicle Transport Act, the federal government has not taken an active role in supporting service provision,” said spokesman Pierre Manoni.

    Manoni said Greyhound has announced service reductions in a number of markets since 2009 due to low ridership and financial losses and in many cases, service gaps are filled by other bus companies, and “other modes.”

    Citing Transport Canada’s statement, Singh said officials “played down” the government’s responsibility to act and called it “deeply concerning.”

    Conservative innovation critic Matt Jeneroux said Conservatives sympathize with Canadians and those communities that will be affected by the cancellations.

    “A Conservative government will examine ways to keep rural communities connected while protecting taxpayers’ hard-earned money,” he said.

    Janice Dickson , The Canadian Press


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    National

    Freeland says Khashoggi killing still open; Trump says facts may never be known

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  • OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada will use the upcoming G20 summit in Argentina to push Saudi Arabia for answers in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    Freeland says Canada considers his murder to be very much an open case, a contrast to a statement by U.S. President Donald Trump earlier today that the facts surrounding Khashoggi’s death might just never be known.

    She expects the Khashoggi case to be an issue during the talks among leaders of the world’s 20 leading economies, and says Canada will push for a transparent international investigation

    The kingdom is a member of the G20, and the Saudi-owned television station Al-Arabiya says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s defacto leader, will attend the summit.

    U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that bin Salman ordered the Oct. 2 killing of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

    Trump says maybe bin Salman had knowledge of the killing, or maybe he didn’t, but regardless, Saudi Arabia remains a steadfast partner of the U.S. and has helped keep oil prices stable.

    The Canadian Press


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    Ride-hailing group says B.C. model looks a lot like expanded taxi industry

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  • VANCOUVER — A coalition of businesses and interest groups advocating for ride-hailing in British Columbia says legislation introduced yesterday will just create an expanded taxi industry, not the ride-hailing services that customers expect.

    Ian Tostenson of Ridesharing Now for BC says members are “bewildered” that the future of ride-hailing in the province remains uncertain and the government hasn’t committed to a start date for the service.

    Tostenson, who also represents the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, says the coalition is especially concerned that the Passenger Transportation Board would have power to limit the number of drivers on the road, where they can drive, and also set rates.

    He says the organization was expecting to see legislation that more closely matched the customer-driven supply and demand model that exists in other jurisdictions.

    Tim Burr of ride-hailing company Lyft says the company sees legislation introduced Monday as a “procedural step forward” but the regulation and rule-making process will come next.

    He says the company is used to rolling up its sleeves to work with legislators and regulators in many jurisdictions and remains committed to working with the B.C. government to bring the service to the province.

    The Canadian Press


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