November 2017

Isn’t it time the industry took legal action against the City?

To the editor,

Given that the first annual review of the City’s controversial Vehicles-For-Hire Bylaw is now three months overdue and doubtful to be tabled before the new year, coupled with the fact the taxi industry is beginning to wake up to the idea there may never be a bureaucratic and/or political resolution to the industry’s problems that comes anywhere near to being a fair and level playing field, is it not time we seriously considered a court action to recover the industry’s financial losses?

In the absence of any level of fairness for the taxi industry membership from the City’s officials, it does surprise me that our members have not proceeded with a civil court case against both the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario, to be compensated for the huge business losses they have incurred, losses which are a direct result of the City’s vehicle-for-hire bylaw.

I won’t even get into the numerous conflicts within the bylaw and the violations coupled with conflicts of senior statute as they are too numerous to mention in this email and I have written about them on previous occasions, but in answer to some recent enquiries, I will point out what I believe are the 3 main cornerstones that support such a case.

1. Social Contract: Without going too deep into an explanation on this point, be aware that this type of contract can be written or inferred and it would not be very difficult on a number of fronts to show that the City of Toronto has had such a contract with its taxi industry membership for decades that they are now and for some time have been in violation of.

2. City of Toronto Council Directive: Toronto City Council on October 2, 3, and 4, 2012 adopted in Part (1) – “That the taxicab economic and sustainability be added as a fourth key principle on the taxicab review.”

3. Uber Technology: This company entered the Toronto transportation marketplace in and around 2013 and until July 15, 2016 operated without any City or Provincial rules, regulations or guidelines. During this three-year period, they were allowed unfettered vehicle access to the taxi industry clientele that for decades had been regulated as part of the social contract agreement between the City of Toronto and its taxi industry.

In addition, Uber’s operators undercut bylaw mandated taxi meter rates, which gave them every opportunity to gain a very strong foothold in Toronto’s transportation industry without any fear of political and/or bureaucratic interference and ended up with the taxi industry being unable to compete during this period and losing approximately 60 percent of its client base as a result.

Uber Technology’s business actions were a direct violation of the City of Toronto Council Directive of October 2, 3, and 4, 2012, which has all but destroyed the economic viability and sustainability of its taxi industry and has them on the brink of a financial collapse and at the edge of an abyss that very well may lead to the City deregulating the taxi industry in its entirety.

Of course, there is a lot more data that can be supplied to support these three points and a lot more information that would prove that the City and the Province (which allowed the City to do this; could have intervened regardless of the City of Toronto Act, 2006; and which was kept up to date on the City’s goings on in this area and did nothing to stop it therefore making the Province complicit in these actions) are indeed liable for the financial losses of the Toronto taxi industry membership.

Gerry Manley

City government and Uber have a lot to answer for

To the editor,

It has always been my opinion that Uber not only pushed the limits of the law, they broke right through the wall.

When you review their reasonably brief history in our marketplace, they could not have been able to take the path they have, without being involved in some sort of government collusion.

The crime in all of this is that all the changes our customers wanted could have been achieved through the then existing bylaw #545, without the need of destroying an industry that has decades of successful customer service and is an integral part of the City’s transportation grid that will soon be no more.

That is especially clear in the City of Toronto, our city, where Uber was allowed to operate outside of any government regulations from 2013 - 2016 and without any legal guidelines in place, they undercut our meter prices to the point we could not compete.

They as well, were allowed to take part in other business practices that taxi drivers could not do and that have taken approximately 60 percent of our business away and by the time there were some regulations put in place, we had lost that business. With Uber still receiving perks from the City that we in the taxi industry do not, we have zero chance of recouping that lost business.

It confirms my assessment that we no longer live in a democracy, but are governed by an autocratic governance and have no chance of ever receiving a fair bureaucratic or political resolution.

It has unfortunately come to fruition that what I warned this industry about many years ago is true, which is that the City of Toronto does indeed want to deregulate its taxi industry.

This is why I firmly believe that we must be compensated for our losses in the courts and learn from the past six decades that no government at any level will ever legislate a fair and level playing field for our members.

Will our industry membership ever join together and finally realize this is the only option open to them?

I seriously doubt they ever will as this industry is too fractured with individual groups hiding their own agendas, agendas which are far from favourable for our membership at large. 

These groups closely mirror our City government’s approach as the City never comes to the table without hidden agendas either and although they listen, they really don’t hear as they have already made up their minds as to what direction they want to take and only hold the meetings as they are required by the Province.

Personally, I have done my best and spent years explaining, doing research, report writing, attending meetings and trying to educate our members, but I have failed and can do no more.

As hard as it is to face, I as an individual have come to the end of the road and have no choice left, but to stand by and watch the 45 years I have spent building my business be destroyed by the City and the Province as I have exhausted all of my options as an individual.

Gerry Manley

Isn’t it time the industry took legal action against the City?

City government and Uber have a lot to answer for