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Ottawa’s diversity handbook “not germaine” to 2015 Taxi report, regulatory framework

Image: City of Ottawa

City of Ottawa manager Christine Hartig said its “Equity and Inclusion Lens” handbook and the policies it contains were “not germaine” to the 2015 report written by KPMG. Hartig is testifying for the second day on February 6.

“Would you have provided this handbook to KPMG?” asked plaintiff’s lawyer Marion Sandilands.

“Not that I recall,” Hartig responded.

“So to your knowledge, KPMG did not refer to this policy in writing its report?” Sandilands continued.

“It was not germaine to the report, or to our regulatory work,” Hartig said.

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 Iskhak Mail, with the lawsuit seeking damages on behalf of taxi plate owners and brokers.