Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Bourns admits he never saw Ottawa’s “Equity and Diversity Lens” handbook before trial started

In a stunning revelation, KPMG Senior Partner Brian Bourns admitted he never saw, or used, Ottawa’s “Equity and Inclusion Lens” handbook before designing and delivering stakeholder sessions with the Taxi industry in 2015. Bourns and his team wrote the report Ottawa received before re-writing Taxi by-laws to legalize Uber and other ridesharing firms in 2016.

In answer to plaintiff counsel Thomas Conway’s question “Had you seen the Equity and Inclusion Lens handbook before this trial?” Bourns said that he had not.

“I saw it when counsel showed it to me,” Bourns replied, evidently referring to the legal counsel for the City of Ottawa in the lawsuit now underway, Metro Taxi vs City of Ottawa.

“So you had not seen it before you delivered your report?” Conway asked.

“No,” Bourns replied.

Seven weeks of court time as been alloted to this hearing, which was certified in 2018. Members of Ottawa’s taxi industry launched the $215 million class-action lawsuit in April 2016, alleging the city did not protect drivers and the industry when ride-sharing services hit city streets. The suit also claims the city discriminated against minority taxi plate holders by failing to enforce its own bylaw and changing the bylaw to allow private transportation companies.

A key element of this trial is the allegation that the City of Ottawa “in failing to enforce its By-law and in changing the By-law, the City discriminated on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, ethnic or national origin, religion or creed, language, place of origin, or citizenship, contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code,” according to the class action.

The lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Metro Taxi Ltd., co-owner Marc Andre Way and Ishkak Mail, with the lawsuit seeking damages on behalf of taxi plate owners and brokers.