Mayor must clear the air
It’s fair to say that Uber’s entry into Canadian cities has had its setbacks, but that would be an understatement in the case of Calgary. The city and the California-based ride-sharing company have differing opinions about the sort of safeguards that are necessary to ensure public safety.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s recent visit to Boston, where he was caught on video on Thursday disparaging Uber’s CEO and his employees during a trip with a Lyft ride-sharing driver, reveals just how deep the disdain goes.
“They are honestly the worst people in the world to deal with,” says Nenshi, who also referred to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick as “a dick.”
More worrying still was Nenshi’s suggestion that the city sent sex offenders and other criminals to apply to be Uber drivers in Calgary. It was reportedly a way of testing the company’s security screening, and if true, it would raise questions about the city’s tactics.
“We’re no fools, so we sent people to sign up to be Uber drivers to see if they could get through the background check,” Nenshi says on the video.
“How we found registered sex offenders, I don’t want to know, and people with convictions for violent crimes, I don’t want to know why we know those people. I just don’t want to know — nobody will even tell me, and I don’t want to know, but they all made it through Uber’s theoretical background screening.”
Two days after the video was recorded, Nenshi said he didn’t mean to suggest the city used criminals to test Uber’s procedures, but was simply pointing out the need for comprehensive screening. He has said at least one driver passed through the check used by Uber despite having an active assault charge against him or her.
Nenshi says he engages in such chats while using ride-sharing companies so he can gain “on-the-ground knowledge.” It would seem that his driver received more information from Nenshi than the mayor got from the person shuttling him about Boston.
Instead of airing details of the city’s hard-to-imagine sting operation with foreigners, Nenshi should disclose them to the people he works for: Calgarians.
“When (Nenshi) says, ‘I don’t know and I don’t want to know,’ I would say exactly the opposite,” says Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart of the mayor’s remarks on the video. “I do want to know. I want to know everything. And I want to know about the ethics of this.”
Precisely. The mayor — and city administration, which would have carried out such a ruse, if one existed — has some questions to answer.