September 2017

Unfortunate run-in with MLS enforcement should be investigated

Late in the month I got a call from a cab driver who had what appears to be a very unfortunate run-in with a Municipal Licensing Enforcement Officer.

Keep in mind I only have one side of this story, the driver’s side, so there may well be another side to this I don’t know about.

I do have names, but because these are unverified allegations at his point, I think it best to leave them out, at least for the time being.

Here’s where things get really dicey as I am not a lawyer. My knowledge of the law is limited and I certainly can’t give legal advice.

But first the driver’s version of events. He said he was stopped by an MLEO in plain clothes outside of the bus station downtown and was told he was spotted doing 80 kph on a city street. (How the MLEO would know this is a huge unknown.)

The driver said the MLEO demanded his cab driver license and his Provincial Driver License.

Then the MLEO, the driver said, walked around the car, apparently fiddled with the car’s trouble light, and gave him a ticket for having a non-functioning light.

The driver alleges the MLEO deliberately damaged the light before writing the ticket.

Here is the really interesting part: the driver said he taped the incident using his cell phone. While he acknowledged he does not have video of the officer actually damaging the light he said he can show the MLEO appearing to fiddle with the light, giving rise to the suspicion at least that it was deliberately damaged.

As far as I know, MLEOs do not have the authority to stop vehicles, or even if the vehicle is stopped, do not have the authority to demand a driver’s Provincial Drivers License. This authority resides with police officers only.

MLEOs, and Provincial Offenses Officers, do have the authority to inspect stopped taxis and limos and demand the driver’s taxi (or limo) driver’s license and check the vehicle ownership registration if it is a clearly marked taxi or limousine.

So, on the face of it, it would appear the MLEO in this case may have exceeded his legal authority.

If in fact the MLEO did deliberately damage the light on the cab he may, in my non-legal opinion, have committed a (minor) criminal act.

The driver asked me what he should do.

After pointing out I am not a lawyer, I suggested first he report the incident to police. I suggested he make a copy of the sim card in his phone so he could keep his evidence in case of loss or accident and to preserve his personal information and data, phone numbers and so on and then offer the phone to police with the recording of events on it to assist in any investigation and to back up his version of events.

He already told me he was going to complain in writing to MLS senior management.

I also asked the driver to write me a letter explaining in detain his version of events.

The driver, understandably, fears possible repercussions, and is worried that by going public with his complaint he could put himself into Municipal Licensing and Standards cross hairs. This is not, in my opinion, an unreasonable fear.

I have not heard from the driver since, and do not know if he followed up with his complaint with any authority.

I hope he does pursue this. If, and this is a big if, there is a bad apple MLEO out there I submit it is in the best interests of everyone, including the City, to find this person and deal with him swiftly and appropriately.

Abuse of authority whenever and wherever it happens, should never be allowed to fester. It degrades everyone.

At least two bad MLEO’s to my knowledge have been sent packing in the past couple of years. In my experience, senior MLS people have as little use for them as you do. But they do need proof, not as yet unverified allegations.

Meanwhile the despicable lack of enforcement on Uber vehicles is continuing unabated. One of my correspondents witnessed an Uber vehicle with Quebec license plates picking up a fare downtown. How these drivers get away with this BS is beyond rational explanation. Yeah, I know MLS has a limited number of enforcement officers, but reallyÉ it is easy to go after cab drivers who are (mostly) obeying the law and to turn a blind eye to Uber types who apparently couldn’t give two hoots about laws of any kind.

How many Uber cars actually have the required Uber stickers on them? Damned few. How many have the mandatory insurance coverage? Damned few.

Now Uber says it will stop collecting passenger personal information from cell phones when the app is not in operation. Geez, that’s nice of them.

I do wonder where those outstanding bylaw charges from a couple of years ago now stand. The City sure has been actively pursuing them, right? (In a pigs eye.)

Perhaps I am too cynical, but my feeling is that strict orders to lay off Uber and its ilk comes from very high in city government. I simply do not trust our city government to act in anything like a fair way towards anyone in the licensed taxi business.

I suspect City coffers are being swollen by fees Uber is paying as well as by fees the traditional vehicle-for-hire industries have been forking over.

And I have zero doubt the City is willfully breaking provincial law and ignoring court decisions requiring that license fees from a given license category must be spent on that category and not on other categories or projects.

I hope you all had safe summers and please remember that kids are going back to school and don’t always behave wisely when close to roads.


© 2017 Taxi News


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