Name: George Iny
Occupation: Consumer/public interest advocate
Bio: This righteous go-getter of a Westmount stud and McGill law school graduate began his career as a consumer advocate by working as an intern in the mail room of the Automobile Protection Association back in ’82. El Presidente of said organization since 1987, George grew up in a family of “car nuts” and probably knows more about cars than 85 per cent of the people out there who refer to themselves as mechanics, although he doesn’t like to get his hands dirty too often. The author of the tremendously popular and influential Complete Canadian Used Car Guide series, George says that as a teenager he was inspired by Ralph Nader, a man he has since worked alongside, and that public interest advocacy appealed to him because “the idea of bringing life to something that affects everybody’s lives, and, in general, moving the level of consciousness of millions by an inch, as opposed to one issue by several yards, was very exciting to me. It’s important people understand the APA is not an auto club. We are a public interest group, and 80 per cent of the people we serve are not APA members but people from the community who are having problems.”
One person whom he still admires greatly, but claims is “a bear” and “very tough to work for”: Ralph Nader.
By “bear,” is he implying Ralph Nader is actually a big, hairy homosexual? Not exactly.
Something he feels all motorists should passionately support: Public transit. “So long as it’s somebody else on the bus.”
The percentage of APA employees who come to work on either public transit or their bicycles: “In Toronto practically everybody and in Montreal maybe one-third of the office.”
One service the APA conducts every year: Visiting local auto repair shops with a car equipped with a hidden camera and exposing the fraudulent practices of various garages.
The number of garages they discover ripping people off: About 50 per cent.
The two local auto repair chains who’ve sucked the hardest in the APA’s last three annual investigations: Canadian Tire and Alex Pneu.
One reason why dishonest mechanics are more pervasive than ever: “Because nobody is watching the store anymore. There used to be dedicated auto repair fraud squads looking into these things. But these services were disbanded with all the general cutbacks to [law] enforcement in the ’90s.”
For more details on the APA and their investigations: www.apa.ca.
Given the APA’s considerable credibility and influence, do those in the automobile industry ever try to bribe him for favourable reviews? “Not for many years now. And they never used to offer very much. I’ve always been surprised at how little they think you can be bought for.”
Musical preferences: Leonard Cohen, Youssou N’Dour.
A recent film he dug: La grande séduction.
Words of wisdom: “You put a bunch of guys in suits, give them a budget and all of sudden they’re [considered] respectable. My job is to make sure they stay respectable. Every aquarium needs a cleaner fish, and that’s where I fit in.”
Originally posted in the Montreal Mirror, Dec 11-18.2003