Quebec’s taxi industry announced on Friday an immediate suspension of all pressure tactics to protest against the provincial government’s proposed reform of the industry after a taxi permit holder committed an act of self-harm on live television.
The Regroupement des intermédiaires de taxi du Québec (RITQ) said the decision to suspend the pressure tactics was to protect permit owners from enduring more psychological stress. That stress seemed to manifest itself in dramatic fashion when a taxi permit owner being interviewed on live television Friday morning on the TVA network appeared to slash his wrist in protest of the Legault government’s reform of the taxi industry.
RITQ had planned on Friday to have drivers offer free rides to passengers until 7 p.m. to illustrate the unfair competition they have to face from Uber. Another aim of the protest was to deprive the government of tax revenue from that day’s fares.
Transport Minister François Bonnardel issued a statement Friday morning saying he was upset by the taxi driver harming himself.
“I am also touched by the testimonies and human stories that have been reported in the media,” Bonnardel said. “Every day, I reiterate the importance of promoting an open dialogue to ensure a smooth transition and sustain the traditional taxi industry.”
Bonnardel said discussions are ongoing between the taxi industry and the government, and will continue in the coming weeks.
“Let’s give our dialogue a chance to succeed,” Bonnardel said.
Quebec cabbies are calling for the total withdrawal of Bill 17, saying its $500-million compensation package for lost value on taxi permits is insufficient and that the deregulation of the taxi industry will cost them their jobs.