Enough talk — get it done

Calgary Sun - - COMMENT -

One death is too many — now we have two in just over two years. Some­thing needs to be done. Now. The lack of pro­vin­cial govern­ment ac­tion to pro­tect work­ers by in­tro­duc­ing pre-pay sys­tems at Al­berta’s gas sta­tions is sim­ply shock­ing.

Calls for change were re­newed this Thanks­giv­ing week­end when a gas sta­tion owner in Thorsby, Alta., was killed in a hi­tand-run by a cow­ard thief in a stolen van who drove away with­out pay­ing for gas.

Ki yun Jo, who owned the Fas Gas ser­vice sta­tion, was just try­ing to stop or catch the at­ten­tion of the driver who re­port­edly pumped al­most $200 of fuel into the ve­hi­cle be­fore flee­ing.

The busi­ness owner was pro­tect­ing his liveli­hood. Against a crim­i­nal act. In­stead, he ended up dead. Labour Min­is­ter Christina Gray’s re­ac­tion af­ter a two-year con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod on the is­sue is … de­tails on changes will be com­ing soon. What more, pray tell, do we need to study? Lis­ten to his heart­bro­ken rel­a­tives: “Such a dis­as­ter hap­pened to a great fa­ther who sac­ri­ficed his life and worked so hard to take care of his fam­ily,” wrote Sunghyun Jo in a Face­book post.

The re­al­ity is it didn’t need to hap­pen. And it mir­rors an equally tragic — and eerily sim­i­lar — in­ci­dent in north­west Cal­gary in June 2015.

Gas sta­tion at­ten­dant Maryam Rashidi was run over by an of­fender flee­ing the Cen­tex out­let. The young mom, too, ended up dead. The fact that we have sim­i­lar tragic in­ci­dents, and no govern­ment in­ter­ven­tion to pre­vent such crimes and vi­o­lence, is truly ap­palling.

As Gil Mc­Gowan, pres­i­dent of the Al­berta Fed­er­a­tion of Labour, men­tioned in a col­umn Wed­nes­day, po­lice in the prov­ince’s ma­jor cities es­ti­mate they are called to in­ves­ti­gate th­ese types of rob­beries 80-100 times each week.

Good­ness. Can it be any more ob­vi­ous that we need to do some­thing to ac­tu­ally help th­ese small busi­ness own­ers? Of­fer some sort of pro­tec­tion?

B.C. has long had a pay-at-the-pump, or pre­pay, sys­tem at its gas sta­tions. Some driv­ers even have the au­dac­ity to view it as in­con­ve­nient.

But tell that to the fam­i­lies of Maryam and Ki yun.

The time for “con­sul­ta­tion with stake­hold­ers” is over.

Please, it’s time for some govern­ment com­mon sense and ac­tion — be­fore some­one else dies.

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