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CBC Ottawa

Happy Birthday Jamie

Posted by Alistair Steele

Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod made the following member's statement at Queen's Park today:

"Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. A sweet 16 is something every parent wants their child to celebrate. It's an important milestone (like) teaching them to drive or watching them grow older. My friend Allan Hubley and his wife Wendy don't have that opportunity. Their beautiful boy Jamie would have turned 16 today.

Jamie had been bullied because he was a figure skater. He was bullied because of his sexuality. He was bullied because he was different. A gifted singer and skater, Jamie was tormented not only by his bullies, but also by teenage mental illness.

For those who have mental illness, coping with bullying sometimes means they can't see a better day. So it's up to us in this assembly to find a better way. The member for Ottawa Centre and I are committed to finding the gaps in services in our community. We're going to highlight our plan for service providers, what they do best. And we're going to ensure that Ottawa has a suicide prevention plan. Because one teenage suicide, or one suicide, is one too many.

Because kids in a dark place, and parents with innumerable questions expect us to work together to prevent suicide, whether we are right ot left, gay or straight, regardless of our culture, our religion, or our economic circumstances. Because kids after all are just that: They're kids. And they deserve, Mr. Speaker, a sweet 16. Thank you very much, and happy birthday Jamie."



The play's the thing, but probably not the only thing

Posted by Alistair Steele

Here's the text of the short monologue Matt Taronno says he was reciting before this happened:



     Written by: Matt Taronno


(Lights up on a man in his twenties, talking on his phone)


(MAN speaks with a distorted European language; obviously a foreigner)


Man: There was a time when I didn't have to deal with these types of people. These people are tramps. I feel horrible. I mean what is it that I've done that made you despise my work effort? I am a businessman. Okay? What are you. YOU are scum. Sorry, but that's the truth. People hate men who follow rules. I am referring to myself as people. At least after I deal with you, I never have to see you again. I give you free pussy... and you give me nothing more than disrespect. And you're wondering why I'm angry? Look into the situation... you'll see.


Now, this text bears little resemblance to the description offered by the man who shot the now-infamous video:


"I paused my music and over heard this young man saying that he 'sleeps on the ground, run around with no clothes on, tries to be as spontaneous as possible, that he hates pregnancy and loves nudity.'"


It's difficult to see how either version provoked such a violent reaction from the driver. I've spoken with the videographer, who does not want to be identified simply because he doesn't want to be part of the story. (He insists he'd never seen Taronno in his life, and gave me no reason to disbelieve that, despite all the theories that this was a staged event.) He's sticking with his version, but he says Taronno did other stuff to irk the driver. He says Taronno had been ringing the bell before every stop, even though he wasn't getting off the bus, and that he'd been standing next to the driver a good four or five minutes before the finale. He says the driver appeared to know Taronno (he said something like, "Every time it's the same thing with you"), and says the swearing and threats had been going on for a while before he hit record. He says at one point the driver pulled over on the Queensway and urged Taronno off the bus. It will be interesting to see how many of those details emerge when OC Transpo announces the results of its investigation.   




Another day, another OC Transpo video

Posted by Alistair Steele

Here's the statement from OC Transpo boss Alain Mercier on this latest YouTube video:

"Safety is OC Transpo's top priority. Under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, it is illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones. Operators are trained and regularly reminded that it is illegal to use a mobile device while driving. We are investigating this incident. Individuals who do not follow OC Transpo policies and provincial law face disciplinary measures, up to and including dismissal when warranted.  As in all workplaces, personnel matters are confidential, and we do not comment on any disciplinary action(s) taken."

Mercier's memo

Posted by Alistair Steele

Here's the memo sent yesterday by OC Transpo chief Alain Mercier to members of the city's Transit Commission. First of all, Mercier is doing the wise thing by admitting this video is what it appears to be, instead of looking for reasons to excuse the driver. Second, Mercier points out that incidents like these, while they grab all the headlines, are exceedingly rare, and that despite what some transit users may believe, OC Transpo does make efforts to prevent this kind of thing.

Dear Chair and Members of the Commission,

As you are aware, a video on Youtube was posted showing the situation of a customer being treated disrespectfully on board an OC Transpo bus with the videographer stating it was the Operator, which is consistent with the images. This incident has been under investigation since it was first brought to our attention.

Firstly, our apologies to the customer and to all customers on the bus. Our entire team of employees do not believe in this type of behaviour, but the reality is that the incident appears genuine. The investigation will be given the utmost attention given the seriousness of the case.

It is of course important that members of the Commission receive full disclosure on our efforts to set positive behaviours for our customers by employees and to assure you that these incidents are rare and do not reflect the norm of daily service to our customers.

Since 2008, several initiatives were launched to direct management efforts to support positive engagement with our customers on board the bus. Some of these initiatives are:

A reduction in employee to supervisory ratio from 400 to 150:1 to permit sufficient oversight of resources, provide mentoring and to build an engaged team.

Introduction of cyclical training on a 36 month basis which includes dealing with difficult customer situations and understanding persons with various types of disabilities to foster compassion and patience. This is the most aggressive program we know of in Canada and features meeting with senior and customer service managers on the importance of public image.

Introduction of Silent Shoppers to facilitate objective coaching of individuals and identify needs for training. This program targets two "shoppings" every 18 months. Again, this is one of the most comprehensive programs of this type in North America.

A performance interview is now scheduled every 18 months with Operators to ensure support and coaching of employees is consistent and, where necessary, additional coaching is scheduled.

A comprehensive communications program on customer compliments are published to all Operators and sample customer testimonials are published monthly to all employees to provide positive reinforcement to team members.

Our current public program of demonstration of employee commitment entitled "People Moving People", highly valued by both customers and employees, was launched to further highlight appropriate behaviour for customers and to seek alignment by all employees to their importance in creating a successful Transit system.

Despite this sad and regrettable incident for our customers, I believe you can have confidence in each employee's choices of behaviour as we continue to enlarge positive customer experiences with new fleet and services.

Regards, Alain Mercier