Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman claims he was threatened by a taxi-company representative over the city's plans to create regulations to govern ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft.
Speaking at an executive policy committee meeting on Wednesday, Bowman alleged to a group of taxi-industry delegates that a member of their ranks threatened him over the weekend.
"One member of your delegation certainly threatened me this weekend, on Saturday," the mayor told Winnipeg Community Taxi Coalition representative Scott McFadyen, Unicity Taxi's Tarlochan Gillm, Duffy's representative Jaspal Bedi and lobbyist Ajay Chopra.
The quartet appeared before EPC to support Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie's request to allow the taxi industry to be involved in the creation of new regulations governing ride-hailing services.
The province is expected to pass legislation that will allow companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in Winnipeg as soon as March. The city is preparing to create regulations to govern the new services as well as cabs, in line with provincial plans to dissolve its own Taxicab Board.
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Asked to elaborate upon the threat, he said Chopra approached him at a Diwali event on Saturday, asked for a photo and issued some form of threat.
"There were comments he whispered to me afterwards which I perceived as a threat," Bowman said, refusing to divulge what Chopra said. "It's unclear to me whether this was a physical threat or a political threat, but it was certainly unwelcomed."
Chopra confirmed he interrupted the mayor at the Diwali event but denies he threatened the mayor in any manner.
"I mentioned that I will work as hard and as effectively as possible for the community and for the taxi drivers to ensure fairness, equity, and safety," he said in a statement. "My interpretation was that it was a friendly moment and I left optimistic for good dialogue."
Chopra and his taxi-industry colleagues appeared before EPC to once again assert they have not been consulted and wish to be part of a working group that will help the city create regulations governing all vehicles for hire.
Bedi accused the mayor of cooking up a deal with Premier Brian Pallister, but later apologized for his language after Bowman objected.
"That's quite an accusation," Bowman told Bedi. "I'm a husband. I'm a father. When somebody says I've cut a deal with another politician, you should have some evidence to back that up."
The mayor also asserted he was threatened in some manner and asked the delegates to be more respectful.
Bowman's office has been asked to elaborate on the nature of the threat. Taxi-industry representatives said they have no knowledge of the incident.
The Winnipeg Community Taxi Coalition replaces a previous taxi-industry umbrella organization represented by Toronto consultant Michael Diamond, McFadyen said.
McFadyen is the brother of former Manitoba Progressive Conservative leader Hugh McFadyen, who now works in public affairs and has lobbied the province on behalf of Uber.
Scott McFadyen declined to comment on working against his brother on the ride-hailing governance file.
Executive policy committee approved an amended version of Eadie's motion.