Court upholds fines against driver of 'decorated taxi'
MONTREAL - A Montreal taxi driver has lost a court challenge to display personal and religious items in his cab, including photos of his children, a Canadian flag and articles of his Jewish faith.
Arieh Perecowicz received six tickets totalling more than $1,400 for having the "unnecessary personal objects" in his taxi.
The tickets were first handed out in 2006, after Perecowicz appeared on CTV to complain about taxis operating in Montreal without permits.
He says that two days after the interview, he was visited by inspectors from the Taxi Bureau and asked to remove his personal items.
Perecowicz acted as his own lawyer during the case, arguing that the taxi was his own private workplace and should therefore not be subject to the little-used regulation.
He argued the bylaw infringed on his freedom of expression under the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The taxi bureau countered that it was merely applying the regulation as written in the bylaws.
Perecowicz said in all his time driving in Montreal, he never heard of a passenger complaining about the interior of his taxi.
Despite the ruling, Perecowicz said he does not plan to remove the personal effects from his cab.
"It's what I feel, who I am, so I feel like I'm being asked to be stripped," he told CTV Montreal.
"If someone asked you to remove your clothes, that's what I feel like."
In 44 years as a taxi driver, Perecowicz says he has not received a single customer complaint about the items.
"I compare myself to a doctor, a lawyer, a dentist, an accountant, where people go to their office and their office is a public sphere ... the only difference is I'm on four wheels and he is not,'' Perecowicz said.
"They are allowed to keep a mezuzah on their door, photos of their families, knick-knacks, jokes and statues all over the place and it has nothing to do with whatever they're doing or the service they're providing to you.''
Perecowicz says he will appeal the ruling, and is hoping a charity group or lawyers will come forward to offer funding for his court challenge.
with files from The Canadian Press