February 12, 2008
Taxi convoy protests in-car cameras in downtown Ottawa
Hundreds of taxis clogged the streets of Ottawa Tuesday morning as drivers demonstrated against a new bylaw requiring security cameras in their vehicles starting July 2.
“Traffic is moving very very slow, all along the route,” reported CBC Radio’s Alistair Steele from the middle of the convoy around 11 a.m., an hour after the protest started at Coventry and Belfast roads.
The taxis were making their way along the Vanier Parkway, Montreal Road and Rideau Street toward Ottawa City Hall, where they were to meet with hundreds of other taxis and demand a meeting with Mayor Larry O’Brien.
Yusuf Al Mezel, president of the Canadian Auto Workers Local 1688, which represents the taxi drivers and organized the protest, said the drivers will not allow the cameras to be installed in their cars this July.
“These cameras will not be installed in our cars without our consent and without our consultation,” he said, adding that drivers were not asked to weigh in on the bylaw or even the type of security camera that would be installed.
The drivers have voiced concerns about their privacy and that of their passengers as well as the price of cameras, which are $1,500 each and are being obtained by the city through a single-source contract with Toronto-based VerifEye Technologies.
Al Mezel said the drivers did their own investigation and found they could get security cameras for half that price.
Council approved the bylaw requiring the cameras in September 2005. Since then, the city has allowed drivers to collect a five cent surcharge on each fare and the difference between seven per cent and the reduced GST to cover the cost of the cameras, said city spokesman Barre Campbell.