Ottawa Mayor Calls Taxi Drivers ‘Thugs’ For Secretly Taping Uber Rides


Ottawa police and bylaw officers from the City of Ottawa have teamed up to lay 32 charges against Uber drivers during a blitz on Thursday.

The charges come after taxi drivers released a video offering evidence against the ride-sharing service. A group of 5 taxi drivers released the video on YouTube, in which they ordered Uber rides and secretly filmed them to gather evidence against the driver.

On Friday, Ottawa police said that the enforcement blitz was not in response to the video. Ottawa police spokesman Const. Marc Soucy said:

“This was done in response to the city asking earlier this summer about getting some help … to the bylaw section to address the Uber issue.

But it has nothing to do with what those taxi drivers did. On top of that, the chief [Charles Bordeleau] has even said he does not support what those taxi drivers did. He would prefer they not do it … because we can’t act just on the videos.”

The 32 charges that were laid on Thursday include:

– 10 charges of operating without a taxi license.
– 10 charges of operating an unlicensed taxi.
– Eight Highway Traffic Act offenses including failing to surrender insurance information, using a handheld device, obstructing license plates and more.
– Four court summonses were also issued for repeat offenders on two charges of operating an unlicensed taxi and two charges of operating without a taxi license.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson denounced the drivers’ actions this week, saying that it only hurts the cause of taxi drivers in their battle with Uber. Watson likened the actions to those of “thugs,” which lead to a war of words between the mayor and driver Roy Noja, who called the mayor a “puppet of Uber.”

In a statement released on Friday Susie Heath, spokeswoman for the Canadian division of California-based Uber, said that the company continues to stand by its drivers.

“Rather than taking enforcement action, we believe that a regulatory solution is the best path forward and look forward to continuing our work with Mayor Watson and Ottawa City Council to establish a regulatory framework for ride-sharing in Ottawa.”

However, Watson has expressed sympathy for those who earn a living driving taxis, but he added bylaw officials should take care of the evidence gathering.

[via Ottawa Citizen]

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  • I don’t see why Uber is so bad to these Taxi drivers. I do understand it’s cutting into their profits and taking away potential customers, but that’s business.

    If I post on Craigslist that I’ll drive anyone around for some cash because I’m bored, or if I accept gas money from a friend to drive them to the airport, is that against the law too?

    I somewhat understand the fight on both sides, but business is competitive, everything is evolving and companies and taxi drivers have to evolve with it. There’s nothing stopping from these said taxi drivers simply walking away from their company and picking up Uber themselves.

    We can’t simply complain when business doesn’t go our way, we reevaluate the situation and find a way to conquer it. Taking legal action and trying to film and do other shady things is essentially admitted you’re defeated and cannot rise to the occasion.

  • Rio

    I agree with you for the most part.

    Taxi’s legally have to pay a fee to the government in order to operate, something Uber doesn’t have to do. Taxi’s have higher insurance, something Uber does not require.

    A lot of these Taxi drivers, don’t own their license plates but ‘rent’ them from some rich guy who probably inherited it or bought it as an investment. There was a nice article on the sad state of the Taxi business, ill try and post it if I find it later.

  • John

    I don’t completely understand the issues but I think that if uber was really so much better than the drivers would just switch. Either
    1) they should and haven’t because they can’t figure that out, or
    2) they are not switching for a different reason which actually implies that each option just has its own pros and cons rather than implying that one is unfair compared to the other.

  • Peter Pottinger

    The taxi business does need to change, that’s a given, but I don’t think a bunch of unlicensed, unregulated uninsured youngsters driving around is the solution. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • Cyrus Wu

    We also got to note that these Taxis are paying 20% of their revenues back to the City of Ottawa which provides services such as transit and daycares.

    Uber’s money is going to it’s wealthy shareholders. Uber needs to follow City of Ottawa rules and/or work with taxi drivers, thats it!

  • mindsnapper

    The Government is wrong to pursue such charges against Uber drivers in the name of public safety. Follow the money to see who owns the officials. hint – It aint Uber.