01 October 2019 0 Comments Posted By : Peggy Chan

Taxi drivers protest at Montreal Casino regarding Bill 17

Taxi drivers in Montreal, recently held a peaceful demonstrationas part oftheirresolve to fight against legislation tabled by the Legault government earlier this year which aims to deregulate the taxi industry. The drivers had resolved to show their dissatisfaction with the way in which the government is dealing with the issue.

According to the report on theMontreal Gazette,the protest began at 6:30 p.m., with drivers parking their cars in a nearby lot and walking to Montreal's Casino.

According to the police, and casino authorities, the drivers neither prevented people from going into the casino, nor tried to disrupt the casinos business in any other ways.

Casino authorities confirm that it was business as usual in the casino. The casino is usually extremely busy during summer with many players visiting from all over the world and the US. Canadian casinos of comparable standard include the Gratorama which offer bonus codes as part of their welcome package.

The drivers had most likely chosen Montreal's casino because it is a busy location. It can be recalled that in 2016, the taxi drivers had also gathered on the same spot to protest government's lack of progressin regulating Uber.

Legault's government, had earlier this year, tabled Bill 17, which is supposed to deregulate Quebec’s taxi industry by getting rid of extensive requirements to drive a taxi and by allowing varying rates for their services to be charged depending on demand, just as it is with Uber.

In August 2019, drivers had demonstrated over this bill, near Trudeau airport, after a meeting in Laval to inform them about what to expect as talks about amendments to Bill 17 were set to resume on Aug. 27.

“People started getting a little bit upset and a little bit agitated at what they were hearing, that the negotiations we’re doing in good faith… (are) not working,” said George Boussios, president of Taxi Champlain and spokesperson for Taxi du Grand Montréal, adding that about 1,000 people had participated in the protest. “So they decided at the last minute to get all the people that are there, as many as they can… And head towards the airport.”

Boussios made it clear that the fight was not against ridesharing companies, but against government policies.“It’s not a fight against Uber, it’s a fight against Bill 17 that will basically eliminate our taxi permits.”

Boussioshad back then promised that there would be many more protests until the government changed their position,“And if we come back from there and see that he’s not budging, yeah, there’s going to be many more protests, ” he said, referring to the transport minister, François Bonnardel. “Our time is short. I don’t want to use a baseball analogy, but we’re at the bottom of the ninth right now with two outs.” he said.

He also noted that in the past four years, taxi drivers in the cityhad only demonstrated about four times. “I think we’ve been pretty good and patient,” he said.

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