Cabbies back up traffic in protest outside Transport Minister's office
Published Thursday, April 4, 2019 3:26PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 5, 2019 5:40PM EDT
Cab drivers converged outsdie the office of Quebec's Transport Minister on Rene Levesque on Friday morning to protest the provincial government's proposal to deregulate the industry.
Four different groups of taxicabs from the Greater Montreal Area came from the north, south, east and west. They were joined by drivers from other regions of Quebec.
The taxi protest is a show of solidarity against Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel, who recently announced the CAQ government will deregulate the industry.
Drivers are protesting the reform, which includes abolishing the $200,000 taxi permit, effectively rendering it worthless.
Quebec is offering drivers $500 million in compensation, but taxi groups say that amount isn’t enough, since all licenses had a value totaling $1.3 billion before the arrival of Uber.
Hassan Kattoua said he paid $130,000 for his taxi permit and the new bill would only compensate him $70,000.
"They have to understand, behind each and every driver is a family, there are kids to feed," he said. "Not only is he expropriating the land, he's removing the market completely. Anybody here can do an Uber."
"Nobody will make money with that," said George Boussios, spokesman for Taxi Grand Montreal. "There will just be too many cars on the road and nobody will have enough customers to make a living."
On Friday, Bonnardel said the legislation would not be withdrawn but that the government could be open to modifying it.
Drivers met and formed caravans from the following locations:
- From the south: Place Desaulniers in Longueuil
- From the north: Laval Cosmodome
- From the west: Fairview Pointe-Claire
- From the east: Galeries d'Anjou near The Bay store
The cab protest made traffic particularly tough given the numerous closures through the Turcot Interchange on Friday morning due to demolition work there.
Last week cab drivers said they would suspend pressure tactics after one of them harmed himself during a live television interview.