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Clarenville taxi owners’ feud continues

Wallace Benoit.
Wallace Benoit. - Jonathan Parsons

Dispute heading to court in April

CLARENVILLE, NL — While Clarenville Cabs has removed controversial decals implying unfair competition from its vehicles, two feuding cab companies in Clarenville — Benoit’s Taxi, owned by Wallace Benoit, and Ralph Duffitt’s Clarenville Cabs — are still at odds.

The dispute came to the forefront after Clarenville Cabs began using decals on its vehicles that read “No government funding here.”

The stickers were in reference to new, rival cab company Benoit’s Taxi, which Duffitt says used government funding for its business — a claim Benoit denies.

However, both operators say the bad blood goes back several weeks, when Benoit first began his business in town and the rival company owners initially argued over prices and competition.

“I don’t understand what the point of this is,” Benoit told the Packet. “It’s slandering my name as an aboriginal person.”

Benoit worked as a scaffolder in Alberta for over a decade, travelling back and forth while his family lives in Clarenville. After thinking about it for some time, he decided to start his own taxi company.

Ralph Duffitt.
Ralph Duffitt.

He says since opening several weeks ago, he’s making profits and hopes to continue to succeed.

“This is what I’m worried about — these stickers. I don’t like that … I don’t want no funding. I don’t need it. I’m doing this on my own.”

Duffitt told the Packet he removed the decals on Friday because, after talking with some of his government contract holders, he says it would be best not to have them on the cars.

“It made its point. Some of the big contracts that we have, they had phoned and asked about it and we explained it to them,” said Duffitt. “They understood 100 per cent but they didn’t like the look of it on the car with their V.I.P.s driving in them … That’s the biggest reason we took them down.”

But he sticks by his sentiment that Benoit’s Taxis is “government funded” — despite Benoit’s claims there is no money from any government for his business. Duffitt says Benoit himself told him he was funded by the government back when he first began operating. He’s also suspicious because Benoit’s cars are brand new.

But Benoit says he is working to get the proper proof to show he received no public money for his business and will make it available in the future.
He’s glad the decals are off Duffit’s cars, but is looking forward to proving he’s taken no money from government.

Meanwhile, over the last couple of weeks Duffitt says he reported Benoit to the police for not having proper taxi license plates — which, when checked by police, were actually in order. Duffitt also wonders, while not naming anyone in particular, how the windshield of one of his employee’s trucks was smashed. The manager posted on Facebook about the incident.

Duffitt says as a result, he’s put in video surveillance systems at his properties.

Because of angry phone calls between the two business owners arguing about prices and Facebook posts by others implicating fault, the matter is now destined to be resolved in court.

Benoit says his lawyers tell him he has a case for slander after reading the Facebook post in question.

Duffitt also claims certain Facebook posts have slandered him. He says the social media platform is not a good representation of the facts.

“People saying half-truths, total lies and assuming stuff when you don’t know what’s really going on at all!”

A recognizance to keep the peace between the two, filed by Benoit, is set for April 12 at Clarenville Provincial Court.

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