Independent MP André Arthur applauds Conservative supporters at an event near Quebec City in 2007. ((Clement Allard/Canadian Press))

The Supreme Court of Canada has sided with MP and former Quebec radio host André Arthur over inflammatory comments he made about Montreal cabbies in 1998.

The top court said Arthur does not have to pay damages in a class action lawsuit over the comments.

Arthur said Arab and Haitian drivers were incompetent, that their cabs were dirty and that they obtained their licences by bribery.

Arthur has since won election to the House of Commons as an independent MP for the Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier riding in the Quebec City area.

The high court called his remarks "extreme, irrational [and] sensationalist" but said they did not result in a personal injury.

It also said right-thinking people would not have taken Arthur's comments seriously.

The court battle began when the president of a Montreal taxi association heard the broadcast and instituted a class action lawsuit against Arthur on behalf of more than 1,000 Montreal cabbies of Arab and Haitian descent.

At trial in April 2006, a Quebec Superior Court judge found the remarks "wrongful, defamatory and discriminatory," and ordered Arthur and his former radio station's parent company to pay $220,000, plus court costs, to a non-profit organization as compensation.

However, in a 2-1 split decision in 2008, the Quebec Court of Appeal reversed the judgment, saying an ordinary person would not have considered the offensive remarks credible.

With files from The Canadian Press