Voices column: Lessons on playing nice

As most parents know, when kids don’t see justice being done (in other words, their sibling being punished when they think it’s deserved), they’ll take matters into their own hands.

“I have to hit her, cause you won’t,” was my son’s excuse for clobbering his little sister one time... oh, the joys of parenting.

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Anyway, I was thinking of this as I read through some of the outrage on our Facebook page about an illegal ride hailing service in Richmond which allegedly refused to pick up a “Westerner.”

The event was caught on GlobalBC TV’s camera as two men, one Mandarin-speaking hailed a ride from a Chinese-language ride service near the Oval. When the car pulled up the Mandarin speaker leaned in to talk to the driver. He soon emerged and the car drove off — sans passengers.

The Mandarin speaker told the reporter the driver said he had been instructed to not pick up Westerners.

Not surprisingly, this has outraged a lot of folks. Our Facebook page is filled with indignation and charges of racism and injustice.

Now, I would imagine the issue is not simply that these Chinese-speaking drivers and their bosses don’t like Westerners. It’s probably they suspect Westerners are more likely to report them — and they may be right. It’s a gross generalization but cultural tendencies could be at play.

If you’ve spent years living under a political regime you’re forever trying to skirt, often for good reason, you may be less likely to go to authorities to report someone doing just that, albeit in Canada.

But back to my point about squabbling kids.

The whole reason GlobalBC set out to do this story (a story, I will note, that the Richmond News did last July when we learned about these illegal ride hailing services operating in Richmond) was because of a provincial hearing currently taking place.  At it, the BC Taxi Association noted there are seven illegal ride-hailing services operating in the province, five of them in Richmond.

The association’s point is not that ride hailing should be banned — that ship’s already sailed. Rather, they are looking to have the services comply with the strict regulations to which they are expected to adhere.

And it’s about time.

Uber is not new; illegal Chinese ride hailing services in Richmond is not new. In fact, it’s been around long enough for it to grow into a thriving business. And as it grows, so do racial tensions because when people sense there’s no ref calling penalties, they start pounding each other.

Us so-called “Westerners” have every right to be outraged we’re being denied a service, but reverting back to the old  go-back-where-came-from attitude is just as outrageous. This is not about people trying to make a few bucks. It’s about those in authority turning a blind eye.

Legislation and enforcement of that legislation matters. It’s those regulations that enable us all to play nice.

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