Man who attacked Winnipeg bus driver sentenced to 26 months in jail

Manitoba judge says drivers have a right to feel safe at work, union applauds 'unprecedented' sentence

The union representing a Winnipeg bus driver who was attacked while on the job is praising the jail sentence given to the attacker.

Rick Ganton, 46, pled guilty to one count each of assault and mischief for a drunken attack on March 15, 2006, against driver Murray Tarvis. Ganton was sentenced to 26 months in jail for the attack.

The union said the sentence was a welcome relief after years of watching people who assault transit workers walk away with little or no punishment and it called the length of the jail time unprecedented.

“For us it was a victory,” said Ken Foster, director of the Amalgamated Transit Union’s (ATU) Canadian Council. “This judge fully understood what the implications are. Hopefully, it will be a deterrent to others.”

According to the union, Ganton was drunk and the lone passenger on the bus when he realized he had missed his stop and started swearing and yelling at the driver. Ganton became increasingly agitated as the bus returned downtown and the driver twice called security for assistance. The bus had just pulled up at city hall when Ganton charged the driver, pulled him out of his seat and punched him in the face, breaking his glasses.

Justice Glenn Joyal of the Manitoba Provincial Court said bus drivers are in a position of vulnerability and deserve protection, the union said.

“Bus drivers are at the mercy of whoever gets on the bus,” said Justice Joyal. “The only safeguard is the belief the court will respond purposefully and severely.”

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