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Celebrated Musician Faces ‘Unfavourable’ Welcome at Toronto Airport, Demands Apology from Air Canada CEO

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | April 3, 2014 11:41 AM EST

World famous violinist Itzhak Perlman demanded for an apology from Air Canada officials after he had been dumped at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.

The renowned musician demanded for a personal expression of regret from Air Canada CEO. He said that an assistant, who had the responsibility to help him with his crutches, violin and luggage, left him stranded at the heavily crowded airport. The Israeli-American musician also complained that the unidentified disability assistant left him on his own after taking him to an elevator.

REUTERS/Marco Bello
Customers wait their turn to be served at the Air Canada's office in Caracas March 18, 2014. Venezuela's government said on Tuesday it was breaking commercial ties with Air Canada a day after the airline suspended flights to Caracas citing the country's civil unrest.

Mr Perlman told CBC that the assistant said that it was not his "problem" what the musician would do with his heavy luggage. The assistant said that he was not paid by Mr Perlman, nor was he his "personal assistant". According to Mr Perlman, the assistant also said that he would have to handle other flights as well. Mr Perlman uses crutches or an electric scooter to move around. He suffered from polio in his childhood.

Air Canada spokesperson Isabelle Arthur said in her email on Wednesday April 2 that the incident was not an example of Air Canada policies. She, on the other hand, called the incident "disconcerting". She said that Air Canada was supposed to take care of passengers with disabilities. Ms Arthur said that Air Canada was probing into the matter.

Even though Ms Arthur said that Air Canada had apologised to Mr Perlman, the violinist refused to accept an apology from anyone else but the CEO of the airline. According to IMG Artists' David Lai, Mr Perlman was aware of the "history" of Air Canada's "insensitivities". He said that it would be a "good first step" if Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu personally apologised to the musician.

Paul Gilbert said that Canadian rights groups had been asking the federal government to update the regulations related to the assistance for passengers with disabilities. The Globe and Mail reported that the vice-president of Canadian Association of Professionals in Victoria was not surprised to hear about what had happened to Mr Perlman.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Marco Bello / )
Customers wait their turn to be served at the Air Canada's office in Caracas March 18, 2014. Venezuela's government said on Tuesday it was breaking commercial ties with Air Canada a day after the airline suspended flights to Caracas citing the country's civil unrest.
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