Monday, July 15, 2024
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KPMG final report was “selective” of information presented to Council and senior staff, Conway says

Plaintiff’s lawyer Thomas Conway suggested that the final report Brian Bourns and his KPMG team delivered to Ottawa in 2015 left out key findings presented in earlier studies.

“For example, the life savings of investment of plate owners, incremental values that had accrued, and the ethnic background of drivers were not mentioned in the conclusion to this report,” Conway proposed to Bourns. “Did you ever use Ottawa’s ‘Equity Lens’?”

“Not that I’m aware of,” Bourns replied.

“So the purpose of the report was to be selective about the information that you included?” Conway continued.

“The purpose of the report was to document our process, present our findings and our conclusions,” Bourns stated.

“And to not include other findings,” Conway added. “The purpose of this report was to support where council and senior staff were going, one you thought you could ‘sell,’ as you indicated yesterday,” Conway reminded him.

“We were hopeful our recommendations would be adopted,” 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.