According to the Canadian Times Colonist, Quebec’s taxi industry will have to wait until Tuesday to find out if a judge will grant a request for an injunction against a deal between the Quebec government and ride-hailing service Uber. The taxi trade is particularly incensed about an agreement between the government and Uber in which the app would be allowed to operate without the proper (taxi)licence (Can$ 200.000 each).
Taxi industry’s lawyers argued in court Friday that Transport Minister Laurent Lessard exceeded his powers in his negotiations with Uber on a pilot project that would see the ride-sharing service operate in the province without being subject to the same licence system that exists for cab drivers. Under the terms of the project, Uber will be granted the equivalent of 300 taxi permits, but will also pay taxes in addition to collecting federal and provincial sales tax and contribute to a fund to help modernize the taxi industry. Taxi operators are very much fearful of a sharp drop in plate value.
Uber drivers must abide by several other regulations but won’t have to rent or purchase traditional permits, which cost cab drivers upward of $200,000 if a car is included in the price.
The taxi trade says the deal creates a two-tiered industry and negatively affects current cab drivers. They want the deal shelved until the legal questions can be debated on its merits and the industry has said it wants the pilot project struck down altogether.
Uber’s lawyers and the province asked the judge to reject the interim injunction request, arguing there was no urgency to act since no decree was published validating the project. The one year-pilot project allowing Uber to operate legally in Quebec only begins 20 days after the government officially publicizes its terms.
An Uber-lawyer said a case with similar arguments filed by the taxi industry earlier this year was slated to be heard soon, meaning the injunction was unnecessary. Francois Giroux, Uber’s lawyer, also argued the pilot project should be given the chance to go forward and that there was a certain amount of flexibility in pilot project agreement. After hearing arguments Friday from all parties, Quebec Superior Court Justice Michel Deziel said he would deliberate and rule Tuesday afternoon.