NDP MLA Ravi Kahlon accused of conflict of interest for role on ridesharing committee
NDP MLA Ravi Kahlon has been accused of having a conflict of interest by being a member of the all-party ridesharing committee while his father owns a Bluebird cab in Victoria.
The B.C. Liberals raised the issue in the first Question Period of the legislative session.
“I don’t think I am under any conflict of interest,”Kahlon told reporters on Wednesday. “All decisions are being made by the minister, all decisions are being made by cabinet. Any amendments and any legislation has to be voted on by all members of the house.”
Kahlon’s father, Navroop Singh Kahlon, is listed on a provincial registry of taxi owners. Kahlon says his father is on the verge of retirement and spends half the year in India.
The all-party committee has been tasked with looking at four specific parts of the ridesharing legislation passed by the government and suggest new regulations. The committee’s responsibilities includes making recommendations around license class, driver boundaries, the number of vehicles needed and pricing.
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Kahlon says he doesn’t believe he needs to step down from the committee. The committee is set to meet again later this month after public consultations wrapped up a few weeks ago.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena was not told about the license Kahlon’s father owns.
“The fact is when you are one of nine members and you have a family member that owns a cab whose price of the license could be dropping significantly because of your recommendations, it is an issue,” said Liberal MLA Jas Johal.
“It is plain wrong. This does not pass the smell test for the average British Columbian. I cannot believe he did not tell the minister that a direct family member owns a taxi license.”
The B.C. NDP passed legislation last year that has opened the door for ridesharing to come to the province by this fall. Critics, however, have pointed out that regulations around licenses and boundaries could have a profound impact on whether companies like Lyft and Uber can operate.
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Green Party MLA Adam Olsen says the ridesharing issue has become ‘substantially politicized’ and what British Columbians want are solutions, not infighting.
“Certainly the allegations today the government needs to answer to,” Olsen said. “But we need to get away from the political interest being put before the public interest.”
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