Passenger Rights Advocate interview re Supreme Court of Nova Scotia appeal of Air Canada denied boarding Small Claim Court case

Wednesday, 17 January, 2018

Here is my video interview with Dr. Gabor Lukacs, Air Passenger Rights Advocate, re Supreme Court of Nova Scotia appeal of Small Claims Court of Nova Scotia decision (Paine et al. v. Air Canada – SCCH No. 460569).

Dr Gabor Lukacs interview re Supreme Court of N.S. appeal of Small Claims Court decision

Ref: Jan 15th, 2018 CBC News report of this story “Judge reserves decision in Air Canada case involving compensation for missed flight – ‘Air Canada cannot avoid its obligation to pay,’ says passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs

Advertisements

The catch CBC & CTV missed: Loblaws $25 “gift” card/hush money for bread price-fixing

Tuesday, 9 January, 2018

The following three news reports cover various aspect of the Loblaws $25 “gift” card but missed an important catch that I want to discuss in this article.

  1. CBC News, “Loblaws $25 gift card registration now open, but there’s a catch – Signing up for gift card doesn’t preclude participating in class actions, but any payout would be deducted
  2. CTV News, “The catch: What Loblaw wants for its $25 gift card
  3. Huffington Post, “Take Loblaw’s Hush Money, But Don’t Keep Quiet – The bread price-fixing scheme is a moment when the curtain is pulled back and we get a peek into how things really work.

In short, the “catch” as others and CBC reported, “Signing up for gift card (and getting that $25) doesn’t preclude participating in class actions, but any payout would be deducted“.

The catch that is missed at least by CBC, CTV, and even Huffington Post is that as millions of Canadian adults apply for the gift cards is the “Retention and Cross-border Transfer” clause in the “Program Privacy Policy“. The “missed catch” is why should millions of Canadians subject our private and confidential information including

a) Full name
b) Date of Birth
c) Address
d) Home phone number,
e) Mobile phone number, and
f) email address

to courts of foreign countries including El Salvador or other random countries we don’t even know! When we are talking about millions of Canadians’ private and confidential data potentially being “stored, accessed, or used in a country outside of Canada “!! Why shouldn’t our data be treated with more care/respect and be stored in Canada and Canada alone?!

Don’t trust my words blindly. Visit the “Program Privacy Policy” link on the registration page, you will see (emphasis added):

“Program Privacy Policy
[…]
5. Retention and Cross-border Transfer
Personal Information may be stored, accessed, or used in a country outside of Canada by Loblaw, the Program Administrator, Blackhawk and/ or Peoples, or by service providers engaged by any of them, for any of the purposes identified in Section 4 above including the United States and El Salvador. Where Personal Information is located outside of Canada, it is subject to the laws of that jurisdiction which may differ from those in your jurisdiction and any Personal Information transferred to another jurisdiction will be subject to law enforcement and national security authorities in that jurisdiction.”

Canadians may want to question and challenge Loblaws’ Program Privacy Policy. by calling Loblaws and ask them directly or even ask our elected MPs and try to hold our government and the Competition Bureau accountable.

20180109 Loblaws price-fixing - program_privacy_policy - Screen Shot

Loblaws price-fixing – program_privacy_policy – Screen Shot

P.S. The Huffington Post, “Take Loblaw’s Hush Money, But Don’t Keep Quiet” raised some good points. (emphasis added) Read the rest of this entry »


Goodbye Beverley McLachlin

Sunday, 17 December, 2017

CBC News, Dec 18, 2017, “Beverley McLachlin reflects on Supreme Court career, dispute with PM Harper” (~13 minutes extensive interview)

CPAC, Dec 7, 2017, (~17 minutes video) “Beverley McLachlin Bids Farewell to Supreme Court

December 14, 2017, CBC Radio, ‘We can do a lot better’: Retiring Beverley McLachlin on what’s wrong with our justice system

CBC Radio Ottawa, Dec 15, 2017 “Goodbye Beverley McLachlin – A retirement party fit for a Supreme Court Chief Justice.” (~10 minutes)

2017 Dec, “(video clips) CTV News Channel: McLachlin takes questions, pt. 1 (~12 minutes) pt. 2 (~9 mins)” – Beverley McLachlin’s farewell: Five quotes you need to know

Gala Dinner in Honour of Beverley McLachlin (full ~93 minutes video via CPAC)

~14:02 TRH former GG David Johnston (great speech, who is a legal scholar in his own right)
~21:02 TRH GG Julie Payette
~25:48 TRH Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
~36:01 TRH Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
~41:20 TRH Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (great speech)
~54:50 TRH former GG Adrienne Clarkson (great speech)
~1:14:50 Retired Chief Justice Beverley_McLachlin (LOVE this final address)

“Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin is honoured at an Ottawa dinner on the eve of her retirement. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Brian Mulroney, as well as former governors general David Johnston and Adrienne Clarkson pay tribute to Canada’s longest-serving chief justice. The event is organized by the National Judicial Institute. (December 14, 2017)”

Note: I’m looking forward CBC National’s Sunday December 17, 2017 in-depth interview by Rosie of the Chief. Will add a link when I see it. [update: Video interview has now been added!]


Op-ed: Airline passenger rights: Will you be protected? (@CBCMarketplace) Minister @MarcGarneau PM @JustinTrudeau, Why Canadians are still getting worse protections than Britons & Europeans?

Saturday, 2 December, 2017

Have a watch of another great episode of CBC Marketplace!, this time about Airline passenger rights. Here is an excerpt from CBC News report that should make most air travellers who have experienced extensive delays angry, “‘It’s just not fair’: Canadian passenger won’t be compensated, when in Europe she’d get $900” (emphasis added)

Marketplace took a close look at the proposed legislation and found areas where it will fall short of protections offered elsewhere, especially in Europe.

Europeans enjoy the world’s strongest consumer protections when flying. Their bill of rights outlines how airlines must treat passengers when things go wrong, including generous compensation that can reach up to $900 for the longest delays on long-haul flights.

‘Airlines should be liable for compensating passengers in the event of cancellation, delay or overbooking that is somehow caused by mechanical issues.’
– Gabor Lukacs, passenger advocate

Those rules apply to any flight on a European carrier, but also extend to Canadian carriers if the flight is departing from Europe. Had Chris Conrad been flying in the opposite direction, or with a European airline, she would be owed a payout of $900.

“It’s just not fair,” she says.

it seems clear that the “new” Passenger Bill of Rights (Bill C-49 is commonly known as passenger bill of rights (CBC news article), read the text of billPDF) will still be willfully inadequate compare to European/British passengers’ rights! Minister PM , Why Canadians are still getting worse protections than Britons & Europeans?

Airline passenger rights: Will you be protected? (CBC Marketplace)

Air Passenger Rights issues is an area this reporter has been reporting for years, for example, see this August 2013 video interview report, “Halifax mathematician gets bumped Air Canada passengers $200, $400, or $800 compensation” and yet this reporter will freely admit there are still many things to learn. Have a watch of this Sept 2017 video presentation, Air Passenger Bill: Dr. Gábor Lukács addresses the House of Commons’ Transport Committee and have a read of the text of Dr. Lukacs’ submission (PDF file) to the Transport Committee.

Reading “Private Consultation with IATA About Regulations to be Developed” paragraph in Dr. Lukacs’ submission (PDF file) which I quote below (emphasis added), one is left to wonder if Canadian Transportation Agency consulting with IATA is kinda akin to consulting with foxes to design hen house? Surely, an effective and powerful passenger bill of rights has to protect passengers from airlines, no? This reporter will leave it to the readers to decide if it is fair or not in saying “akin to consulting with foxes to design hen house“.

The International Air Transport Association (“IATA”) is an international trade association of the airline industry, representing the interests of the airlines. Before Bill C-49 would be passed by Parliament and before any public consultation would take place about the regulations to be developed, the Agency has “sought IATA’s input with regard to the regulations that” the Agency would draft.

To casual readers, IATA sounded a matter of fact (and may be even rather “proud“) that the Agency has “sought IATA’s input with regard to the regulations that” the Agency would draft..

Have a read yourself the exact words IATA’s own lawyer filed in Supreme Court of Canada File no. 37276: Motion Record (June 19, 2017), Tab 1, p. 13, para. 25. which I quote here (emphasis added) to let readers judge for themselves,

25. Also, on 16 May 2017, Minister of Transport Marc Garneau introduced Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Bill, that proposes to amend several key provisions of the Canada Transportation Act. Bill C-49, as currently drafted, authorizes the Agency to make regulations in respect of various matters affecting air passengers. The Agency has sought IATA’s input with regard to the regulations it will draft. IATA is actively participating in the consultation process with Transport Canada and the Agency on this topic.

At the end of the day, it is up to us Canadians to hold our Government of Canada accountable to make Canada better! I recently learned the Order of Canada‘s Latin motto is desiderantes meliorem patriam (They desire a better country). Most of us Canadians will never get an Order of Canada but I say it is still important for us to strive for a “better Canada“! A “better Canada” that includes much improved Air Passenger Rights that is at least on par (if not better) than rights long ago (12 years ago!) received by Britons and Europeans! Right now, we are not!

Let me ask again, Minister PM , Why Canadians are still getting worse protections than Britons & Europeans?

 


Air Transat $295K penalty for tarmac delay deemed agency’s “publicity stunt” by Rights Advocate

Thursday, 30 November, 2017

Here is this reporter’s extensive video interview with Air Passenger Rights Advocate Dr. Gabor Lukacs re Air Transat Tarmac Delay $295,000 Penalty (legal notice of violation) (press release). An extensive timecoded-links (allowing user to directly jump into the video)  with extensive notes and transcripts of the interview has been included below for your ease of references.

[Note: the video itself should be the authority of what were said as accidental transcription errors are quite possible.]

0:18 Reporter (KL) asks Dr. Lukacs (GL) to explain the CTA’s (Canadian Transportation Agency) Air Transat Tarmac Delay $295,000 Penalty. How the $295,000 was likely decided? Is it a good decision for Canadian Air Passengers?

1:24 Dr. Lukacs (GL) sees the $295,000 penalty as a “publicity stunt by the CTA to support the government’s effort to pass Bill C-49 [commonly known as passenger bill of rights (CBC news article) (read the text of bill (searchable via Parliament), PDF image via CBC)].”

1:35 KL: Why would you say this is a “publicity stunt”?

1:38 GL: The CTA “pretends it has teeth, pretends it issues a big fine while in reality, the fine has been waived.”

1:46 KL: How come? On paper and the press release, Air Transat has been fined $295,000. Even around the world, BBC news has been reporting the same $295,000 fine.

2:13 GL: “According to the media release, Air Transat will not have to pay money that it pays passengers. In other words, it can take the amount of the fine and pay that to passengers. However, it comes out to $500 per passenger and Air Transat has already pay to many passengers $400 as I checked back in August [2017].”

2:40 KL: I see in the previous CTV report you sent me. Air Transat already paid $400 to some passengers. Now $500 is like nothing [not much more]?

3:00 GL: Two problems. 1) Under the law, CTA cannot waive or reduce the amount of penalty that has been set out in notice of violation. Once the notice of violation has been …

3:46 GL (2) The notice of violation has been botched. It identifies two violations and each violations can only carry a maximum fine of $10,000.

4:00 KL: Notice cites only two violations and it cites specific sections of the law (which the reporter admits he isn’t clear about them and their legal limitations) but from GL’s reading, each violations can ONLY be fined up to $10,000?

4:28 GL: “If they treat a WHOLE AIRPLANE LOAD OF PASSENGERS being locked without water and food and air as a SINGLE violation as it transpires from the notice of violation, then each of those violations can only carry $10,000 penalty. What I think is breach of each passenger’s right is a separate violation and therefore for each passenger [of the 590 passengers in total] the agency can issue $10,000 for a total of $5.9 million which makes us see how little penalty has been issued if you look at things properly.”

5:25 GL: Two simple questions for the CTA: Q1) How the fine was determined? Based on what calculations? Q2) What gives the agency any authority to waive the fine that has been issued under the notice of violations? GL is not aware of any such power in the Canada Transportation Act.

6:00 GL: Whatever penalty they [CTA] put in the notice of violation, they cannot after the fact … waive part of [the fine]

6:13 KL: You are saying CTA has no power to say, within the $295,000 fine, if Air Transat has or will pay any amounts to passengers, those amounts can be deducted from the fine. (It should be NOTED that in this CTV August 4, 2017 news “Air Transat offering $400 to passengers stranded in Ottawa“, Air Transat has already “offered monetary compensation ($400) as a gesture of good faith” long before the hearings and the new “penalty”.)

6:41 GL: Further discussions about the fine calculations and maximum penalties.

7:11 GL: If CTA counts each passenger as a separation violation, then it is only $500 per violation, then by CTA’s own guideline, it would be exceptionally low! If treated as 590 separate violations, then it would be unreasonable in each case to fine the airline only for $500.

7:38 GL: Personally GL thinks each passenger should be treated as a separate violation but if one looks at the notice of violation, it is NOT how the notice reads.

7:50 KL: Ask about precedent setting power of such a big and high profile case.

8:13 GL: Discuss the numerical side of the fine calculation … vs the actual “Notice of Violation” (the legal foundation of the fine as the reporter understands from GL’s explanation) which states TWO violations. […] Either way you look at it, the penalty doesn’t make sense! TWO violations: Max $20,000. If seen as 590 separate violations, then the fine should be close to a few million dollars!

9:08 KL: Some passengers were unhappy of the CTA’s penalty. The reporter imagines himself in the shoes of the trapped and locked up passengers (for over 5 hours) and he would be unhappy with a $500 “penalty” or compensation!

9:37 GL: Very troublesome.

9:43 KL: What do you expect to see happen? Air Transat has no problem agreeing with CTA’s determination and paying the penalty. Are there any recourse for passengers that got stuck on those planes?

10:49 KL: How will a challenge benefit those affected passengers? Will the passengers be able to get more [monetary compensation]? Individually negotiate a higher amount …

11:07 GL: The message has to be clear that “the penalty is issued and waived at the same time”! ‘We issue the penalty but also waived it is what happened! “Thats what I would like to put a stop to.” […] “The agency cannot play fast and loose to show some good statistics that we issued a big amount of penalty but at the same time say we are not collecting it, we are waiving the amount. Thats dishonest. Thats a form of intellectual dishonesty. Something that borders on fraud to the public because the public hear, ‘Oh, there is a big fine issued.’ but actually the fine is not being collected. So if you are ti fine a person, the fine has to be collected.”

11:59 KL: Just to clarify. Is GL using waive because money paid or to be paid to passengers, etc can all be deducted from the $295,000 fine? Sooner or later, with whole bunch of deductions, Air Transat may not pay anything or very little as fine to CTA?

12:39 GL: “Yes. And there is an important issue of the Rule of Law here! That if the law says the agency can NOT waive penalty, then the agency cannot waive penalty. There is nothing in the law that permits doing this. So it is difficult to understand how this came to be. And what type of arrangement, what type of communication took place between CTA and Air Transat that lead to this outcome. What negotiation took place? It is troubling. I’m concern that something inappropriate happened in the background.” […]

13:41 KL: Obviously, you have no evidence that Air Transat and CTA had made any backroom deal or anything?

13:49 GL: The timing looks suspicious that they waive the penalty and Air Transat is going to comply. The way that the amount seems to be very close to what they already paid. It looks suspicious. We don’t know for sure but one thing I like to make sure that this type of backroom deal is not possible because the law doesn’t permit that. So even if they want to make this kind of backroom deal, the law is there to ensure that if a fine is issued then a fine has to be collected.”

14:22 KL: You want to appeal because of the precedent setting power of cases like this?

14:32 GL: “It is MORE than precedent setting power. It concerns the Rule of Law. The Parliament decides to grand the agency certain power, the agency cannot overstep those boundaries. If they issue a notice of violation, the have to stay within the confine of the law. The law says they can issue notice of violation. Nothing in the law that would allow them to rescind a notice of violation on the basis of some amount that has been paid. Thats not the power the enforcement officer has. The notice of violation has been issued at that point. They become functus officio. They’ve done their jobs.”

15:13 KL: Would you worry about unintended consequence that if you challenge the decision, and then the court agree with you that the fine can be $20,000 maximum which amounts to next to nothing?

15:31 GL: “It would show how inadequate the legislation is for sure. And it will also uphold the rule of law. The Rule of Law as a principle is more important than any kind of Air Passenger Rights. It is a far bigger, it is the corner stone of democracy. If we abandon the Rule of Law as a principle for some financial benefit, then we loose the backbone of our society!”

15:56 KL: Thats an interesting claim. Will see what GL decides in the coming days. Thanks a lot Dr. Lukacs for explaining the decision to me and the viewers. This, to me, is an important and precedent setting and obviously you mentioned Rule of Law is at stake here.

16:21 GL: Thank you very much.

P.S. Traditional news media like CBC, CTV, Global, TorStar, BBC have done different reporting of this story (some including background and some with passengers interview). Worth a read and watch.

P.P.S. Since this reporter first wrote about the 2009 Supreme Court of Canada “Grant v. Torstar Corp., 2009 SCC 61” decision,  this reporter has tried his best to keep the idea of “Responsible Communication” in mind in all his reporting.


Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Thursday, 26 October, 2017

New York City to me is a readymade! The beauty about New York City is co-existence and tolerance and sharing.” “Fences can be solid as a wall. But many fences you can see through. You can have hatred or admiration about the other side.” – Ai Weiwei (Vimeo video @1:47 & @2:42) (ref Public Art Fund) (Adding this to my long list of Quotes I LOVE)

PAF40: Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors (here is a Public Art Fund link to donate any amount small or big)

P.S. Thrilled to have made a tiny contribution to Public Art Fund for this project. “A small act is worth a thousand Facebook Likes.”  as I like to say.

2017 Nov 6 Update: TimesTalks | Ai Weiwei (2017/10/16)

This is a cool one because they knew each other for so long. 2014/10/29 Ai Weiwei talks with Evan Osnos – The New Yorker Festival (interview with Evan Osnos)

x


Dr. Lukács goes to Ottawa (op-ed)

Thursday, 5 October, 2017

 

Yesterday, Dr. Gábor Lukács, Air Passenger Rights Advocate, went to Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa to present his arguments in the case Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács (SCC case summary & factums). Dr. Lukács is a respondent for this case because he won in the Federal Court of Appeal (CBC news) in September 2016. And then Delta won the right to appeal that FCA ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada in February 2017. (note: you can watch the hearing webcast video archive (~3 hours) to get a closer look.)

As Dr. Lukács put it in the 2016 CBC news interview,

“The underlying issue is, can you stand up for your neighbour? For the weak? For those who may already be disadvantaged in some way in society?

I first interviewed Dr. Lukács in August 2013 for the video report and article “Halifax mathematician gets bumped Air Canada passengers $200, $400, or $800 compensation“. During this 4+ years, I’m still amazed that a regular Canadian non-lawyer (math professor/researcher by training) has volunteered so much of his free time in helping others. And sometimes even risking being sued (and actually being) by airlines which have teams of lawyers and money.

To me, it was great to be able to video interview Dr. Lukács right inside the Supreme Court gown room where lawyers prepare their formal court attires. At the end of the hearing yesterday, it was nice to see lawyers from both sides and Dr. Lukács shook hands. I believe parties from both sides can violently disagree with each others’ ideas and submissions but it is nice to be civil after arguments are heard.

Over four years later, I still find the following 2013 answers given by Dr. Lukács very illuminating and insightful of why he spend so much of his free time in helping the Canadian flying public,

“Upon hearing the interviewer suggesting this delay compensation [$200, $400, $800 from Air Canada] should be named after Lukács, similar to mathematical theorems were named after Euclid or Gauss, Lukács paused to think for a moment and then thoughtfully insisted that,

“… it doesn’t matter where it was me or somebody else who got those [air passenger] rights. What is important [is] that those rights are put in place. And that people will now have better treatment. It doesn’t matter it was me, or my neighbour, or my friend or you, or that person in another city who made those changes. For me, it’s a question of I’ve learned enough about airlines to know that something are just wrong and against the law. And when I happened to see that, like in the case of what happened in Ottawa airport, I cannot just walk by and do nothing. I feel a responsibility.

Knowledge gives some responsibility. When you know that something is wrong, and you have quite a good idea of how to fix it, that does impose on you some level of moral responsibility, social responsibility. And so the issue of air passenger rights needs a face in Canada. I don’t see myself as a full-time passenger rights advocate, I am a mathematician after all. But certainly, I know that I am able to bring, through the agency, to the Canadian public some prospectives & arguments that benefit everybody. So I do it.””

Concluding thoughts

For years, I’ve gained inspirations from this one particular quote I LOVE“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” by Margaret Mead.

Seeing what Dr. Lukács has been trying to achieve by himself, it seems to me we sometimes doesn’t even need “a small group … people“. At times, all we need is one person to try to make a difference for the better in our increasingly perilous world. Do what each of us can, in the best way we know how. Success is never guaranteed but we and no one else can blame ourselves after we try the hardest we can.

P.S. Have a watch again of the action inside the Supreme Court yesterday.

Justice Russell Brown asks Dr. Gábor Lukács Questions during Supreme Court case with Delta

P.P.S. I’ve always found the political comedy-drama “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington“, a film is about a newly appointed United States Senator who fights against a corrupt political system, insightful and illuminating. As I get older, I find I’m not naive enough to ignore the bad but I’m more willing & eager to look for the good each and everyone of us can do in our own area of interest and competence.

There is no reason you or I can’t be our own “Mr. Smith”, “Dr. Lukács”, … and going to our own “Washington”, “Ottawa”, … which to me stands for ideals we strive to achieve.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Speech

P.P.P.S. Speaking about theorems being named after mathematicians, I still hope Dr. Lukács’ Air Passenger Rights work won’t slow down his mathematics research as I hope to see a math theorem bearing his name one of these days.


%d bloggers like this: