Montreal Manufacturing unit Supervisor Stabbed by Fired Worker

by Reuvain Borchardt

The Orthodox Jewish manager of a Montreal food factory was stabbed Thursday by an Arab worker fired for non-performance, but it is unclear whether the incident was a hate crime.

The worker came to the Torticana Foods tortilla factory around 9:30 am, having been hired through an employment agency, company owner Shia Deutsch told Hamodia in an interview Friday. Deutsch, a Boro Park native, opened the factory two years ago in Montreal. He says his company, which makes the tortillas that are packaged under other companies’ brands, is the only Orthodox Jewish-owned flour tortilla factory in the world.

“We hire through this agency, based on demand,” says Deutsch, whose company employs around 15 people. “We often have people come in and start working. If they’re not good, they’re sent home.”

Deutsch says this particular employee was sent to work in the packaging department, but turned out to be “a joke from the first second.”

“He kept running around, going to the bathroom every two seconds, going to the lunchroom. He didn’t do any work, he was just playing around.”

Deutsch says that around an hour after the worker was hired, “my manager told him, ‘There’s no more work for you here. Go home,’” and that the worker left without argument.

However, Deutsch says, the worker sat outside for approximately two hours, telling the manager he was waiting for a friend to pick him up.

Then suddenly, in an incident captured on surveillance video, the worker took a pair of scissors out of his pocket and wordlessly stabbed the manager just below his eye.

“He had miracles,” says Deutsch, who declined to give his manager’s name. “His eyesight is okay. He has some complications, but everything is fixable. He was discharged and went for a follow-up today. The doctor told him how lucky he is.”

Deutsch says the assailant, an Arab man around 20 years old, never said anything anti-Semitic, and “seemed totally normal until the attack.” It is unclear if this attack was motivated by hate, or simply a case of a worker disgruntled over being fired.

Deutsch says he believes it is possible the assailant “was planning some sort of attack,” considering that the assailant never seemed to be serious about wanting to actually do work, and had a pair of scissors in his pocket. But German emphasizes this is “just a guess.” He is unsure whether the assailant brought the scissors to work, or if they belong to the company.

This incident, Deutsch says, should serve as a warning to employers.

“When you get rid of an employee, you never know who he may be. You have to be very careful.”

Deutsch says that following this incident, he made a new arrangement with the employment agency who supplies employees for Torticana Foods: if a worker is dismissed shortly after being hired, the agency is responsible to pick them up and drive them away.

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