A Canadian cab company apologized and paid compensation for the racist and anti-Semitic comments made by one of its drivers to a passenger last month.
The incident took place when the passenger, Ron East, was travelling to the Winnipeg airport in an Unicity cab on Feb.4. The cab went past the former Kapyong Barracks site, which is being converted into an urban reserve, after which the passenger and the driver started discussing about its demolition.
Speaking about the conversation, East told CBC, “The driver started to talk to me about the fact that actually, the neighborhood there — Tuxedo, Whyte Ridge, [and] Linden Woods — is populated by Jewish people who really don’t like Native people coming into the neighbourhood, walking around with empty alcohol bottles, because it will depreciate the value of their properties. And Jewish people, you know how much they like their property and their money.”
East, who is Jewish, was shocked by the conversation.
“I was taken aback by his comments.… I tried to explain to him a little bit about what an urban reserve would be, but he was insistent,” he said.
After reaching the destination, East contacted the cab company to report the incident.
“It took me several days to actually get somebody from Unicity to actually respond to my complaints,” East said, adding he spoke with a general manager and asked him to take action.
East told the general manager that he wanted the driver to be suspended and given cultural-sensitivity training. He also asked for the driver to be fined and the money to be donated to Bear Clan Patrol, Main Street Project and a Holocaust education charity.
Earlier this week, East received an apology from the company.
“Unicity shareholders are a diverse, multi-racial, multi-faith group who reject all forms of discrimination, hatred, prejudice, and racism. Be assured that the words spoken by the operator … are not those of Unicity. The impact on you is acknowledged and Unicity apologizes. Unicity thanks you for bringing this incident to its attention and will address cultural sensitivity issues with the owners and their employees,” the letter read.
The company, along with the driver, donated $1,500 to the charitable organizations, as per the passenger’s request.
“I got the letter two days ago. I chose the charities because of the language the driver used,” East said Wednesday, adding that he also received an apology from the driver, Winnipeg Free Press reported.
Praising the passenger and the company, B’nai Brith, a Jewish advocacy group, said, “As a society that thrives on diversity, multiculturalism and tolerance, there is no place for racism or anti-Semitism. We would like to thank Unicity for taking responsibility, rectifying the situation and apologizing for the driver’s hateful comments.”