Thursday, October 9, 2014


Montreal taxi
An NDG woman says she was sexually assaulted in a taxi last weekend, raising familiar concerns about Montreal's taxi industry.

The 26-year-old woman told CJAD that after a night out with friends, she got into a cab parked at the corner of de la Montagne and St. Catherine Sts.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, says she grew concerned when the driver began commenting on her appearance, telling her she looked "sexy."

"I got to my destination and he pulled over fairly quickly, and then, very very fast, it happened very quickly, he jumped over to the back and I was attacked and assaulted," she said.

She explained the man grabbed her face and kissed her. She pushed him off, got out and ran, she said.

The taxi driver took off and she started to search for her phone, only to realize she'd left it in the cab, she recounted.

The next day, she went to report the incident to police and says the officers she met took her seriously, giving her a list of resources to consult if she felt she needed support.

One officer told her she was the third person to report a similar attack recently, she said.

Police said Thursday there have been 17 similar cases this year, including four recently in NDG and 29 last year.

They're saying these attacks are being perpetrated by possible taxi drivers because they don't know if the people implicated are licensed, official drivers.

A police spokesperson told CJAD women should only get into cabs they hail by phone, they shouldn't take taxis alone when under the influence, and that once they're aboard the cab, they should take a picture of the driver's badge with their cellphones and send it to a friend via text message.

Last month, the provincial government and the city of Montreal promised to take action after receiving a number of complaints from women who said they were sexually assaulted by taxi drivers.

There's a provincial law in place that says "no person may obtain, maintain, or renew a taxi driver's permit if the person has been convicted in the last five years of an indictable or criminal offence," but there is no province-wide standard for background checks in place so the law isn't being enforced.

The Montreal Taxi Bureau had said it was waiting for clear guidelines from the province about how to implement the checks and what specific offences would prevent someone from getting a permit.

At a news conference Thursday, Transport Minister Robert Poeti said creating the guidelines is a priority, and that they should be complete in a month.

Andrea was out for a few drinks with friends downtown when she decided to hail a cab to take her home to Verdun.

She was having a friendly chat with the driver from her seat in the back of the taxi when she noticed he was masturbating.

Andrea said he tried to make her touch his genitals, and attempted to kiss and grab her.

"I was just thinking, 'I have to go. I have to leave,'" she told CBC News in an interview.

She quickly thought to tell the driver they were passing her street and asked him to stop.

She hopped out of the car and went up a flight of stairs to a random house hoping he would leave as she pretended to look for her keys.

"Everything happened so fast," she said. "I didn't have time to get the identity of the guy, to get the name of the taxi or anything."


Andrea spoke to CBC News about an incident in a Montreal cab last summer. The experience left her wary of flagging taxis down in the street. (CBC)

The incident, which happened last summer, left Andrea terrified. She asked that her last name not be used out of fear that she could be identified by the driver.

She's one of several young women who told CBC they've experienced a similar episode and expressed concern about lax safety in cabs in the city.

After a taxi driver was killed on the job last November, the city's Transportation and Public Works Commission began looking at strategies to make taxis safer for both drivers and passengers.

In April, the commission released 16 recommendations, including the installation of cameras in cabs.

City councillor Alex Norris said the city is moving in the right direction, but there still aren't enough protections in place for taxis.

"The city could be doing more to protect passengers and taxi drivers alike," he said.

Norris said the presence of the camera alone can have a dissuasive effect on those looking to harm drivers and data from cities where cameras have been installed show a drop in violent incidents.

But more can be done, including adding GPS locators to cabs and requiring taxi drivers to pass a criminal record check before they can take on any passengers.

Norris said the plan to install cameras in cabs is in the works, but there are still details to be worked out.

"There are still questions surrounding the installation of the cameras, namely who will foot the bill," he said.

Andrea said she's still wary of getting into a taxi.

She didn't report the incident because she didn't have any information to identify the driver. And, because she had flagged the cab from the street, there are no dispatch records to help identify the car number.

"I just told myself that there's so many of them," she said. "My mom said I should report it, but I didn't see the point because there's so many of them."

She wholly supports adding cameras to the cabs to protect both the drivers and passengers. She said she's only taken a handful of taxis since the incident, but she now takes steps to protect herself.

"I think the best way [to stay safe] is to tell girls to call a taxi, not to hail one – especially if you're a girl alone at night," she said.

Dominique Roy, president of Montreal's Diamond Taxi company, said he's never heard of such situations happening in his cabs.

"Sexual harassment is a criminal offence and drivers are very prudent about those issues because the consequences are very important for them," he said.

Roy said reports of such incidents received by his company would be communicated to Montreal's taxi bureau.

1 comment:

Phyllis Carter said...

It's Montreal, folks - Don't expect the police to do anything.