August 2018

New industry organization needs and deserves your support!

A new group has been formed to once again take the City to court over it’s handling of the taxi/Uber/Lyft, etc. mess. Of course they’re looking for money to carry forward the action. See Andy Reti’s Cab Stand below.

I have not seen any of the court filings to date and am not qualified to comment on legal arguments in any event. It will be very interesting to see how things progress.

Frankly, I hope the group gets the support from cab owners, drivers, garages and brokerages it deserves.

My feeling is the current regulatory shambles simply cannot continue as it now stands.

It may well be, at least according to one comment I’ve seen from a long-time industry observer and participant (in one way or another) that the City, through Municipal Licensing and Standards, deliberately set out to demolish the taxi industry as it stood in 2016.

If this is true, and while I did not overhear the remark this other person alleges was made, I do tend to believe it, then the City has callously and viciously destroyed the hopes and dreams of thousands of taxi industry participants, including drivers and owners, fleet operators and taxi garages to the verge of, and in some cases actual, bankruptcy. They have driven the elderly who rely on the money from plate rentals for their retirement incomes to the brink of despair.

Do not forget they were told by the City for decades that their plates would be their retirement income. I heard this statement innumerable times when plates were being granted off the Owners and Drivers’ waiting lists and any person who says otherwise is either inexcusably ignorant or lying outright.

I could easily go on a long and ultimately tiresome rant about how badly the City has treated people in the taxi business but won’t bore you with it. I’ve been on record about my feelings for too long and most of you know how I feel anyway.

It is fascinating to see the news that the Province intends to slash the numbers of Toronto City Council members from 44 (or the planned 47) down to 25 – which in my opinion is still at least 10 too many. But it sure as heck is a good start on clearing away the logjam.

In the future I’d also like to see term limits imposed on councilors. Two terms seems reasonable. Three would be the absolute maximum. If long-term politicians want to keep working in politics, then let them run at another level of government and let voters decide if they have reached their expiry dates. This goes for all levels of government, by the way. Let new blood and new ideas enter the fray. Super powerful individuals, whether they be at the city, provincial or federal level should never be allowed to flourish.

Of course, the devil is always in the details. I do like that existing federal and provincial riding boundaries will become the new ward boundaries. Seems to me this will save a pile of gerrymandering and useless political hot air and vast quantities of money being spent. I have no idea how the changes, whatever they may be, will affect voter patterns across the city although from some of what I’ve read more power will go into the suburbs. We’ll see.

I also have no idea how individual candidates, new and incumbent, will be able to cope with the forthcoming changes. It may well prove to be very difficult for everyone to effectively change their campaign strategies at this stage of the races. I suspect incumbents will have a serious advantage over newcomers and fringe candidates, but we will see.

It will also be very interesting to see how voters react to whatever changes are coming down the pipe. How flexible will people be? How well with they understand the new blueprint for City governance?

What the rules will be for a proposed “strong Mayor” system as envisioned by the new provincial government are also, as of this writing, very much an unknown. Toronto has never, to my knowledge, had a strong Mayor system. How it will work in practice is a complete unknown.

Making this announcement this late in the days before the Municipal elections is likely going to be problematic and a host of new, unforeseen and unforeseeable problems are certainly going to arise.

But we as a city will survive and ultimately prosper.

Another huge unknown is how the changes will affect the City’s bureaucracy. If under the strong Mayor system bureaucrats will be more directly accountable to the Mayor, I genuinely fear a civil service I used to admire for its integrity and wisdom in giving honest, non-partisan advice will go further down the, in my view, highly unwelcome road of becoming more politicized than it already is.

As far as I can see, the City’s civil service was forced to become political starting, essentially, under Mayor David Miller and becoming more and more toadies of the mayor and some powerful councillors. They started telling them what is politically expedient for some on council and ignoring and not giving perhaps truthful, but nonetheless unwelcome, fact based advice.

I submit much of what has happened to you in the taxi business is a direct and obvious direct result of the politicization of the City’s civil service. How this politicization can be avoided or mitigated is for me an immense outstanding question. I submit it should be a serious concern of yours, the electorate in general and even councillors who want to make good decisions based on facts. The alternative is being given skewed options that may suit the few powerful but are absolutely the wrong thing to do.

This will be a very, very interesting election and I suspect the aftermath will be transformative.

Finally, I will be essentially out of touch for most of August. Going places and doing things. Will fill you in about this next issue.

Have a great, and safe, rest of the summer.


2018 Taxi News


Duffy's Domain

Cab Stand