Court record, Kinew's memoir offer differing versions of 2004 assault on cabbie
Differing accounts of cabbie assault in court record, memoir
As more details emerge of new Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew's history before the courts, discrepancies have arisen in his account of a 2004 assault on a city taxi driver.
The court record of Wab Kinew's 2004 conviction for assaulting a Winnipeg taxi driver, reviewed by CBC on Monday, is significantly different from a brief accounting of the incident in his 2015 memoir, The Reason You Walk.
Kinew, then 22, pleaded guilty in September 2004 to assaulting a cab driver the previous June, as well as refusing a breath demand following a drunk-driving incident in February 2003 and two breaches of court orders, for which he was fined a total of $1,400.
Kinew was bound by a court recognizance on the drunk-driving charge when, on June 27, 2004, he was arrested following an altercation with a city taxi driver.
According to an audio record of Kinew's sentencing hearing, he was intoxicated when he caught a cab near Mayfair Avenue, shortly before 5 a.m.
"The accused began to insult the [cab driver] with some racial comments which continued until the driver reached the intersection of Portage Avenue and Fort Street," the Crown attorney told court.
While stopped at a red light, Kinew exited the vehicle, approached the driver's-side door window — which was open — and punched the driver in the face.
A passerby yelled out and momentarily interrupted the assault. When the driver exited the cab, Kinew pushed him to the ground and kicked him, court heard.
Police came upon the scene and Kinew attempted to flee. After being taken into custody, he declined to discuss the incident.
The victim suffered a small laceration to his elbow and swelling to his face.
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An accounting of the incident in The Reason You Walk includes no reference to "racial comments" and alleges the cab driver was the initial aggressor, after Kinew and some friends tried to jump out of the taxi without paying the fare.
The court record includes no reference to the presence of Kinew's friends.
In the book, he writes that "the driver caught up with us and pushed me. I turned around and shoved him back. A passing cabbie saw what was happening, stopped his taxi and jumped out to help his fellow driver. He swung and hit me in the face. I grabbed him and swung back.
"We stood in the middle of the street, arms flailing in full-on hockey fight mode. The police showed up and tackled me."
Asked to explain the discrepancies between the two versions of events or which version better reflected what happened, Kinew did not provide a direct answer.
"The bottom line is that I was wrong and I took responsibility," Kinew said in a statement emailed to CBC Tuesday.
"I acted in ways that were unacceptable, and I apologize. As I said, these events motivated me to be a better man, and a positive member of my community. I learned how to confront the issues that led me to be the person that did those things — alcohol, addictions — and put them behind me. I've changed to be the person I am today, and will continue to be the best dad, husband and public servant that I can be."
Kinew, who became the MLA for Fort Rouge in 2016, won the provincial NDP leadership at a party convention on Saturday.
Kinew is a former CBC News broadcaster who also hosted the TV series 8th Fire and later appeared on Canada Reads.