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

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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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