A Halifax man says he was refused service at a popular downtown bar because he's black.
Dino Gilpin, 36, told his story on Friday to a human rights inquiry.
He said he was 33 years old when he was refused service at The Alehouse when they wouldn't accept his Canadian citizenship card as a valid form of photo identification.
"It does have a birth date, and it says there 'Government Canada' and my age is clearly there," said Gilpin pointing to his government-issued photo identification.
"But we all know you stand out in the crowd. You're a black man, people want to say, 'You're not supposed to be here because you're black.'"
Marcel Khoury, co-owner of the The Alehouse, denies the incident had anything to do with racism.
Khoury is of Lebanese descent. He said cracking down on underage drinking has led to strict but equal treatment for everyone who pulls out an unfamiliar ID.
"He had to make the judgment that, where he's never seen it before, he doesn't know how to check whether it's legitimate or illegitimate. He didn't want to make the call or decision that Mr. Gilpin was of age."
According to the Canadian Convenience Store Association which runs a "responsible age verification program" in Canadian retail stores, all those that look to be under 25-years-old must be ready to present a valid photo ID.
The CCSA states the following forms of ID are acceptable as long as they are not expired:
- a valid provincial driver's licence
- a valid Canadian passport
- a Canadian Armed Forces ID
- a Canadian citizenship card
The CCSA also states that if the picture in the ID is questioned, a person must provide a secondary piece of government-issued ID such as a birth certificate.
The hearing hasn't concluded whether Gilpin was refused service because he was black or whether he presented an ID that wasn't recognized by staff.
The hearing has accepted a ground-breaking report that indicates Nova Scotia has a racism problem.
The survey asked 1,200 Nova Scotians if they had ever been refused service or been follow around while shopping in store.
"The data really shows that, overall, aboriginals and black Nova Scotians are, in some cases, four times more likely to experience that type of incident than white shoppers are," said Gerald Hashey with the Nova Scotia Human rights Commission.
However whether that survey is relevant to Gilpin's complaint has yet to be decided.