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April 2017

Why won’t Premier Wynne intervene in systematic destruction of Toronto’s taxi industry?

To the editor,

I just received a very long email from the Premier of Ontario thanking me for my emailed support of her decision not to let the City of Toronto toll the DVP and Gardiner Expressway.

It is too bad the Premier did not address the second part of the email which addressed the urgent need for she and her office to intervene in the City’s systematic destruction of the Toronto taxi industry which is almost certain to put its 10,000 workers on the welfare roles.

This is not the first time Premier Wynne has been advised of this disastrous and unacceptable situation yet she still does zero to correct it.

Kathleen Wynne’s involvement in the toll situation certainly proves she and her office could, if they wanted, intervene in this serious issue regardless of the City of Toronto Act, but perhaps our 10,000 members are not worthy of her consideration?

Gerry Manley

Mississauga owes taxi industry a fair chance to earn a decent living

To the editor,

(Editor’s note: This is an open letter to Mississauga’s Mayor and Members of Council regarding that city’s TNC licensing pilot project.)

In assessing the impact of Staff’s March 8th report on licensing so-called transportation network companies, a line from Shakespeare’s play, Henry IV, Part 1, comes to mind: “A little more than a little, is by much too much.” Granting Uber virtually everything it sought, from open entry to self-regulation, not only compromises consumer safety and protection, but also ensures the plight of Mississauga’s cabbies will continue unabated.

The report begs a number of questions. How did it come to pass that Mississauga, a leader with respect to taxi regulation for more than four decades, now regards itself as a follower, content to parrot decisions made in other municipalities? Why does the report fail to acknowledge that the Public Vehicle Licensing Bylaw contains the Capture Option, which treats TNC’s for what they truly are; namely, taxi services?

Arguably, a social contract has existed between the City and members of the taxi industry dating to September, 1970, when plates were initially frozen. Since then, hundreds of individuals have made a long-term commitment servicing the people of Mississauga on a full time basis, in pursuit of both a livelihood and financial security, all the while operating under a set of regulations aimed at balancing the needs of the travelling public with those of the industry.

By allowing TNC’s to operate on their terms; by creating a playing field that is anything but level, the social contract, effectively, is torn asunder, leaving cabbies high and dry in the face of incalculable financial hardship, uncertainty and stress.

Should council adopt the report’s recommendations as presented, make no mistake, our blood will be on your hands. Such is the inevitability of betrayal and injustice.

Included in the report is a provision that levies a per trip fee for each TNC trip. Alas, no mention is made of directing a portion of said fee to the taxi industry as compensation for the significant losses incurred at the hands of Uber since they bullied their way into a well-regulated marketplace. Surely it behooves the City to amend the Staff recommendation by ensuring part of the fee in question is directed into a compensation fund, and distributed accordingly. Quite frankly, under the circumstances, it’s the least the City can do.

It is fair and reasonable to state the City has an obligation to the taxi industry, particularly given the longstanding history of co-operation via the Public Vehicle Advisory Committee, involving members of Council, citizen reps, industry reps, and Staff. In licensing TNCs, our interests cannot and must not be cast onto the rocks of despair. A balance must be struck - one that creates a truly level playing field, and with it a fighting chance for Mississauga’s cabbies to continue operating with dignity, self-respect and a realistic chance of earning a decent living.

In conclusion, let it be said this matter has nothing whatsoever to do with disruptive technology, and everything to do with how people are treated. Nothing on the planet matters more.

Thank you.
Peter D. Pellier

Why did Mississauga bend over backwards to accommodate international scofflaw?

To the editor,

(Editor’s note: This is an open letter to the Mayor and Members of Council for the City of Mississauga.)

An article appeared on page A14 of the Saturday Star, written by Mike Isaac of the New York Times, headed: Uber uses app to block law enforcement. In it, Mr. Isaac has this to say: “Uber has for years engaged in a worldwide program to deceive authorities in markets where its low-cost, ride-hailing service was being resisted by law enforcement or, in some instances, had been banned.”

The article goes on to state: “The program, involving a tool called Greyball, uses data collected from the Uber app and other techniques to identify and circumvent officials. Uber used these methods to evade authorities in cities such as Boston, Paris, and Las Vegas, and in countries such as Australia, China, Italy and South Korea.

“Greyball was part of a broader program called VTOS, short for ‘violation of terms of service,’ which Uber created to root out people it thought were using or targeting its service improperly. The VTOS program, including the Greyball tool, began as early as 2014 and remains in use, predominantly outside the United States... Uber’s legal team approved Greyball.”

And this is the company the City of Mississauga has bent over backwards to accommodate at considerable cost to the City’s taxi industry. It begs the question, why?

Peter D. Pellier

It’s high time Uber drivers paid their share of HST

To the editor,

Kudos to Revenue Canada for recognizing Uber drivers should be collecting and remitting HST under the Excise Tax Act 171.1, the same as any taxi driver.

Regardless of the crying being done by Ian Black, Uber’s regional general manager for Canada, and his nonsense statement that Revenue Canada’s decision amounts to a tax on innovation, it is the correct and fair thing to do since all other categories in the vehicle-for-hire industry are subject to the tax.

I have notified my federal MP Yasmin Ratansi and am asking for her support in making sure this change in policy is followed through with and that Uber is not afforded any special consideration— forgoing collection of the HST on Uber fares would be unfair to every person operating in the drive-for-hire industry who is mandated to pay this tax. Technical innovation has absolutely nothing to do with paying your fair share of tax. Since this company and their operators have already been given a four-year reprieve from paying HST, it is long overdue that Uber’s drivers take on their responsibility in the area of HST and pay up like everyone else in this industry must do.

I hope taxi owners and drivers throughout Canada follow suit and notify their MP as I have done.

Gerry Manley

Let’s all recognize Uber for what it really is: a taxi service

To the editor,

(Editor’s note: This is an open letter to the Mayor and Members of Council for the City of Mississauga.)

From the get go, members of the taxi industry have argued that Uber is a taxi service, as reflected in the Public Vehicle Licensing Bylaw, and not the “ridesharing/transportation network company” it purports to be. Based on the 2017 federal budget which, effective July 1st, subjects each and every Uber fare to the HST, it appears the Government of Canada agrees with us.

By treating Uber as a taxi service, the feds are sending a clear signal to provincial and municipal governments. No longer must the sleight of hand, propagated by Uber’s relentless marketing campaign, that it is not a taxi service, be accorded credence.

Notwithstanding the 7-4 vote at Mississauga’s General Committee in favour of creating a separate licensing category for Uber, along with preferential treatment, the time has come to abandon myth, and instead embrace reality.

If Uber wishes to operate legally in Mississauga, let it do so in conjunction with the Capture Option. Anything less would be a grave disservice to the people of Mississauga who look to you for informed leadership, as well as an affront to the City’s cabbies.

Thank you.
Peter D. Pellier

What an ungovernable disaster our City leaders have created!

To the editor,

(Editor’s note: This is an open letter to the Mayor and Memebers of Toronto City Council.)

The Toronto taxi industry trusted you and once again you did not follow through on your promise to provide a “level playing field”. Uber has been granted virtually free reign in the market place and officials apparently can’t even tell us how many operators Uber now has on the road. Our best guess is there are anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 Uber X cars operating on Toronto streets at any given time. What a shocking, ungovernable state of affairs! People in this city’s taxi industry remember well Mayor Tory’s words: “The thing I don’t want to see out there is the Wild, Wild, West.” So where is Council now? And where are you Mr. Mayor, sir? All in your own little La-La Land?!

Bob Boyd

 

2017 Taxi News

Why won’t Premier Wynne intervene in systematic destruction of Toronto’s taxi industry?

Mississauga owes taxi industry a fair chance to earn a decent living

Why did Mississauga bend over backwards to accommodate international scofflaw?

It’s high time Uber drivers paid their share of HST

Let’s all recognize Uber for what it really is: a taxi service

What an ungovernable disaster our City leaders have created!

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