Itzhak Perlman was abandoned by a disability assistant at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Monday, and forced to make his own way through customs with his luggage and violin, it has been reported.
The leading violinist, who contracted polio at the age of four and moves around via mobility scooter, complained that the unidentified assistant ‘walked me to an elevator and said “that’s where I’m leaving you”’.
When Perlman gestured to his luggage and asked how he would carry it through customs, the assistant replied: ‘Look, I’m not your personal assistant, you’re not paying me for this, you’re the one who chose to carry an extra bag with you.’ The violinist was forced to load up his lap with his bags, crutches and violin.
‘I’ve been coming to Toronto for 40 years; this has never happened to me before like this, it’s just absolutely unbelievable,’ said Perlman. ‘I felt so unwelcome, and it was funny; every place I would go there were big letters saying ‘Welcome to Canada’”.
‘We had made it very clear to Air Canada when we booked the ticket that Mr Perlman required assistance to get all the way through customs,’ wrote David Lai, president of New York-based IMG Artists.
Perlman was in Toronto to perform at a charity concert in Roy Thomson Hall on Monday night.