Taxi drivers protest Uber with afternoon demonstration
Hundreds of taxi drivers drove through the streets of Montreal Friday afternoon to protest what they say is inaction in the process to regulate ride-sharing app Uber.
The drivers met at the Technopark in St. Laurent around 1:45 p.m. then left for Premier Philippe Couillard's McGill College office.
Benoit Jugand, the representative for the Steelworkers Union, said taxi drivers feel that the premier has no interest in protecting workers who had paid substantial amounts to the government.
"It's been 18 months. We have some promise that's been made from the Transport Minister [Jacques Daoust], saying that we'd have a law but that's not happening," Jugand said.
Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, spokesperson for Uber and its subsidiary UberX, said bylaws like those in Calgary and Edmonton are adapted to its vision.
"The main thing in those two regs is that they are basically recognizing the fact that Uber is a different service than a taxi industry. It cannot be the exact same regs but it has to create a level playing field and I think those two cities and Ontario government have shown it's possible and I hope the Quebec government will have the same leadership," said Guillemette.
Taxi drivers and other critics have said that UberX cannot compete on a level playing field, and only exists if it gets special treatment.
Following public hearings earlier this year, Daoust is drafting legislation that would allow UberX to operate, as long as drivers have underground background checks and paid the province for permits. He announced Friday the new regulations will be announced in the coming weeks.
All he would say is there will be respect for taxi permits and Uber will have to fall in line.
"Uber will not impose its way. It's a very attractive technology but the fact that you have an attractive technology does not mean you don't have to respect the laws of the land," he said.
The taxi drivers pledge there will be more pressure tactics if the promised progress doesn't come fast enough