Woman’s only taxi-service a compelling case: legal expert
Published Friday, May 4, 2018 6:40PM ADT
The Halifax woman who wants to expand her airport car service into a full-fledged taxi business says she’s in it for the long haul, and that may include taking her case to court.
Chrissy McDow wants to jump the long line of people waiting for taxi licenses, arguing her fleet of women drivers is a special service.
But not everyone in the industry agrees.
With 55 years of driving under his belt, Al Deslaurier has seen a lot of changes in the industry and always expects more to come.
A sitting member and former president of the Halifax Taxi Association, Deslaurier sat up and took notice when he heard an all-female car service wanted to jump the queue and become a full-fledged taxi company.
“People are coming here and they’re waiting 12, 15 years to get a license and she uses a gimmick, and I don’t believe she needs that gimmick, but she needs advertising,” says Deslaurier.
“If the public wants more female drivers in the city, sign my petition,” says Chrissy McDow, owner of the 'Women-Only Car Service'.CTV Atlant
McDow has launched an online campaign to convince city council to grant her a so-called ‘roof-light license’ to expand her service, which is currently limited to operating at the airport.
Hundreds of people are in line in front of her, and the city caps the number of licenses, but is always making adjustments to meet the demand.
“As well as ensure that those who are driving a taxi are able to make a living doing so,” says Erin DiCarlo, a spokesperson with the Halifax Regional Municipality.
The cab business in Halifax is competitive, and predominantly operated by men.
According to numbers from the city, of the 1,463 drivers, only 41 are women.
Constitutional law expert Wayne MacKay says that industry imbalance would make a compelling argument under section 15 of the Charter Rights.
“I mean the taxi industry strikes me as one that would fit this fairly nicely,” says MacKay.
“You’ve got a public body which you need. You’ve got an argument, which is that she’s in a position where traditionally women have not had the same access and are disadvantaged, so if somebody gives them preferential treatment to improve that, that’s not discrimination,” explains MacKay.
A hard sell to veteran drivers like Al Deslaurier, but perhaps not in a court of law, which might be the next venue to drive change in a competitive business.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.