Montreal taxi drivers get a dress code

City hall’s new rules for cabbies PLUS uniform ideas for other professions to boost Montreal’s image.


Now that the silly federal election is over, it’s time to get cracking on the really important issues of the day. You’ll be relieved to know that the city of Montreal has finally adopted new rules governing the taxi industry and that, at long last, drivers will be obliged to open the door for you when you get in and to open it again when you have arrived at your destination.

It’s hard to believe we’ve managed to survive after all these years of having to open taxicab doors all by ourselves. I mean, they don’t expect us to open the doors of our buses, métro trains or airplanes, do they? Taxi doors are complicated devices, best handled by professionals with extensive training in leveraging levers and whatnot.

And thanks to the Denis Coderre administration, we’ll now know for sure that the person who is opening the door is an actual taxi driver, because the new rules require that they dress like the wait staff at your favourite Italian bistro, with black trousers or skirts and white blouses and shirts. No more open-toed shoes, either, with or without socks.

Coderre forgot to include headgear in his uniform code, however. I’d like to take this opportunity to suggest that drivers be required to wear ballcaps with either the Habs, Alouettes or Impact logos, and that they be made to wear them backward when any of those teams is competing in the playoffs.

The caps will also come in handy for the drivers forced to do all that running in and out of the taxi during storms, opening doors for angry customers kept waiting in the rain.


Aref Salem, Coderre’s executive committee honcho for transportation, says the dress code will boost the city’s image. After all, wasn’t it just last week that reviewers in Lonely Planet were complaining about Montreal taxi drivers wearing paisley print shirts with beige khakis and flip-flops? In a city renowned around the world for its savoir faire, we can’t have our ambulatory ambassadors inflicting fashion faux pas on unsuspecting visitors.

But why stop at taxi drivers? There are plenty of professions that could benefit from new dress codes from city hall. Here are a few modest suggestions:

taxi demoPolice: When Montreal cops switched from blue uniform shirts to black a few years ago, they looked more like SS officers than friendly neighbourhood peacekeepers. That look changed for the better when a protest over pension reform saw cops drop their uniform pants in favour of an eclectic mix of everything from bright pink camos to an assortment of crayon-coloured cargo pants. The choice of pants hinted at the character of the officer and Montrealers could be reasonably sure, for example, that the cop in the photo on the right was more likely to tie you a balloon animal than beat you in a back alley. To take out the guesswork, tho, Montreal police should be required to wear “mood pants” that correspond to psychological evaluations. Bright colours for the friendlies, pastels for the community-minded, browns for the by-the-bookers and black-and-blue for the Matricule 728 types.

Road crews: The new uniform should include orange cone hats and countdown clocks on their vests that show the hours/days remaining until the scheduled completion. The clocks will double as alarms: they will go off whenever the numbers of workers standing around watching exceeds the number of workers who are actually working.

fireman-2321Firefighters: When not actually fighting fires, these public employees should shed most of their uniforms and pose for selfies with tourists to boost the city’s reputation as a hot travel destination.

Sidewalk plow drivers: “Bombardier” drivers will be required to remove all racing stripe decals from their vehicles and jackets. Pedestrians must be given at least a 15-foot head start before a chase can begin.

City councillors: All councillors will be required to wear a tie at the beginning of meetings but must remove an article of clothing every time they tell a fib. Whichever councillor is still wearing a tie at the end of the meeting shall be declared mayor until the next council meeting. ■


Peter Wheeland is a Montreal journalist. His sardonic observations about the city and province appear on Cult MTL every week. You can contact him by Email or follow him on Twitter.