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Canada

BLIZZARD: Freeloaders run rampant

We’ve become a nation of freeloaders: No one needs pay their own way.

You can rob the liquor store with impunity, travel for free on the TTC — and those in charge will turn blind eye.

The Presto card shambles has created a free-for-all on the transit system.

The gates installed at TTC stations are so flimsy and so slow to close that so-called “tailgaters” — scammers who hustle through the gate behind paying customers — have easy pickings.

Not to mention the wide-open entry points next to the ticket booths, where streams of non-paying customers breeze through without paying.

I travel frequently on the TTC and am always amazed by how many people simply ignore the fare box and stroll onto streetcars and buses without paying.

And the on-board ticket machines? Well, the auditor recently explained why they don’t work.

Apparently, the TTC forgot to hire someone to empty the cash box.

A victimless crime, you say? Well, not really, since every nickel scammers don’t pay is a nickel taxpayers and fare-paying passengers must cough up to keep the system going.

Presto’s been a boondoggle since its inception. It was outdated technology back in 2010, when then transportation minister Kathleen Wynne —  remember her? — made gas tax funding to GTA municipalities contingent on them using Presto.

We were playing catch-up even then. Then-TTC Chair Adam Giambrone was pushing for an open payment system, where passengers could simply tap their credit or debit cards — thus doing away with the need for the almost obsolete Presto.

That works fine in other big cities, like London, where you can use both the Oyster card or a credit or debit card to pay.

We were late with fare cards anyway, so didn’t we just go straight to the open payment system?

Perhaps we should just make the TTC free for everyone. Kids 12 and under already don’t have to pay.

I’ve seen “youngsters” with healthy moustaches claiming a free trip on the bus.

No one balks, so let’s do away with the pretence that people are actually paying and make it free.

Then there’s the LCBO.

The union representing LCBO employees, OPSEU, estimates the liquor store lost $77 million to theft in 2018.

Once upon a time, it was the occasional mickey of vodka that got walked out under a coat. Now thieves brazenly enter with duffle bags and walk out with thousands of dollars in high-end booze.

Fair enough, no one wants to see a liquor store employee get hurt rescuing a bottle of Baby Duck, but the thieves are menacing to them and to other customers in the store.

It’s only a matter of time until someone decides to take the law in their own hands vigilante-style if security isn’t beefed up.

It’s time to put the high-end liquor behind lock and key and have customers request it. Or make it available online only, and require customers to get it delivered.

Do we have to go back to the bad old days, when liquor stores were regarded as places of ill-repute? You’d shuffle in, study a dusty display of empty bottles then sidle up to the counter with a paper request for the booze you wanted.

Nothing was out front.

Again, you might say this is a victimless crime. If you’re an LCBO employee who has to put up with this kind of stuff all the time or an innocent bystander to a heist, you’ll probably disagree.

And the greater the theft, the more the prices go up for honest folk.

We’ve become a country where laws are merely suggested guidelines.

We have Mounties helping “irregular” asylum seekers across the border with their baggage — we don’t even use the term ‘illegal’ any more.

I’ve got nothing against refugees. Happy to see them arrive — legally.

But there are thousands waiting to get here through legal processes. Yet we reward the queue-jumpers.

Personal responsibility used to be a simple concept: Pay your own way; wait your turn and buy your own booze.

Not any more.

We’ve created a no-fault world where scammers rule and petty theft is par for the course.

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