Ottawa Mayor ‘sick’ over Ottawa bus driver’s obscenity-laced tirade
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he felt sick when he watched a YouTube video showing an Ottawa bus driver screaming obscenities and threatening an autistic passenger.
“I’m both disappointed and angry at the video and what I saw on it. It’s not only is it inappropriate behaviour … it’s unprofessional,” Watson told the Toronto Star Monday in recalling the early morning Nov. 2 incident.
Watson promised that OC Transpo officials will get the bottom of this publicity nightmare in the next couple of days and has apologized indirectly to the 20-year-old mildly autistic passenger Matthew Taronno, who acknowledged he may have been reading out loud some “inappropriate” lines from a play he had written.
“I watched that video … and I just, quite frankly, felt sick and angry and the violence … it was extremely disturbing,” he said.
Watson said once the probe is completed “appropriate action” will be taken.
“We are trying our best to improve the image and reputation of OC Transpo and every time we make one step forward something like this comes along and sends us back several steps,” he said.
The unidentified driver was caught on another passenger’s cellphone video unleashing an obscenity-laced barrage on the young man, who eventually sprinted out the back door while meekly saying he was “sorry” to the driver after trying in vain to explain he had a mental illness.
“Shut the f---k up!” the older man says to the passenger. “Shut your ignorant f---king cake-hole! Don’t say another f---king word!”
If that wasn’t enough, the driver threatened to punch out the young passenger, who at that point doesn’t appear on video to be saying anything to the enraged wheelman.
“If you don’t shut your f---king face I’m going to stick my fist in it!”
Taronno, an Algonquin College student, who describes himself as “mildly autistic,” told CBC, “I said stuff that may have not been appropriate … it was actually a play I had written and I was reciting (it).”
OC Transpo chief Alain Mercier issued a statement apologizing to Taronno and anyone else on the bus and emphasized that “the investigation will be given the utmost attention given the seriousness of the case.”
“Firstly, our apologies to the customer and to all customers on the bus. Our entire team of employees do not believe in this type of behaviour, but the reality is that the incident appears genuine,” Mercier stated.
Garry Queale, president of Local 279, Amalgamated Transit Union, could not be reached by the Star but CBC reported Queale felt the YouTube video provided no proof it was the driver doing the yelling and added the passenger who shot the video with his cellphone actually contravened a local bylaw prohibited taking video or photos on OC Transpo property.
A spokesman for Ontario Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli, whose riding is Ottawa West Nepean, said the minister would not be commenting. “There really isn’t a role for the minister of transportation regardless of him being from Ottawa or not,” said Andrew Teliszewsky said.
Another YouTube video posted earlier this year showed an Ottawa bus drivers driver complaining about the smell of smoke on a passenger riding the bus to Kanata and then eventually losing it on another passenger who objected to his rudeness