Taxi driver fights city over personal objects
A Montreal taxi driver is taking the city to court this week to fight a by-law that bans 'unecessary personal objects' in taxis.
After 45 years of driving his cab for 16 hours a day, Arieh Perecowicz has been fined six times for a total of $1,400.
The ‘unnecessary personal objects' include photos of his son and daughter, a poppy, a Canadian flag and a photo of a rabbi.
In the back of his cab, Perecowicz also has mezuzahs, the Jewish symbol for protection.
No one has ever complained, he said, but inspectors from the bureau de taxi, which regulates the industry, saw a problem and issued the fines.
Perecowicz said he inspected city records and found no one else has ever been asked to remove personal items from their taxis.
"There was no one else on the island of Montreal that was asked to move the Holy Madonna, or the beads, or Hindu saints. It makes me wonder why I'm the only one," he said.
Perecowicz believes he was targeted for speaking out against the bureau because, he says, the first fine came two days after he was interviewed on CTV news.
Perecowicz will argue the case in court starting Wednesday because he believes his taxi is a private space he shares with the public.
Because he can't afford to hire a lawyer, he will represent himself in court. If he loses, he'll owe at least double the price of the original fines.
Perecowicz said it's an issue of basic freedoms.
"I have a right to keep objects that pertain to my freedom of expression or my freedom of religion," he said. "As long as it does not interfere with the public, as long as it doesn't interfere with someone else's rights."