IN THE NEWS ~ Ottawa man charged following Facebook threat against OC Transpo

Published | Publié: 2011-11-28
Received | Reçu: 2011-11-28 10:22 PM

Ottawa man charged following Facebook threat against OC Transpo

Zev Singer

   OTTAWA - An Ottawa man has been arrested and charged with uttering threats after saying he planned to "blow up" OC Transpo in a Facebook posting.

   Ottawa police said Monday that the man had been charged Friday after a member of the public saw a Facebook posting of a threat against the transit company and called police.

   After an investigation, 22-year-old James Perry was charged with one count of "uttering threats/death or bodily harm." He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 21.

   The posting said: "OC Transpo I'm done with you. Prepare to have your headquarters blown the f--- up."

   The incident comes at a time when the safety of bus drivers has been a hot topic at City Hall.

   The city and the drivers' union now agree in principle that city buses should have video cameras on them.

   Lat week, a driver was punched in the face by a teenaged boy. The boy was picked up in Stittsville on the No. 96 and began screaming obscenities at the driver, who was then punched when he asked the boy to stop swearing.

   There have also been recent reports of drivers being spat on.

   Peter Julian, an NDP MP from B.C. is sponsoring a private member's bill in Parliament that would treat assault of a bus driver the same as assaulting a police officer. That would raise the maximum penalty for assaulting a driver to 20 years from 10. Julian says the issue is not a new one.

   "What many people are calling an epidemic of these types of physical assaults on bus drivers is something we're well aware of," Julian said. "The Canadian Urban Transit Association estimates that there's an assault against a bus driver or a transit operator somewhere in the country pretty well every day. That's an appauling situation."

   Diane Deans, who chairs the city's transit commission, said she supports Julians efforts.

   "It's not just in Ottawa, it's across the country - in fact, it's across North America that this type of activity occurs," she said. "We need to do what we can to protect the work force. And so I do think that would be a good idea."

   Deans said that in the city, on a daily basis, OC Transpo has almost 400,000 passenger trips.

   "That's a lot of interaction with the public," she said. "And most of it is fine."

   But after recent incidents, she said that she and Mayor Jim Watson have been appealing to the public to "continue the respectful relationship that we have all come to know and respect in this city."

   She added a comment about the Facebook posting charges.

   "The police service, I think, made it very clear today that when this kind of activity occurs they will lay charges," Deans said.

   With files from Meghan Hurley

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