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Taxis Plan “Heavy Duty” Strike for NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto

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A meeting last night by hundreds of members of the newly formed United Taxi Workers Association confirmed to CityNews they plan to strike during NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto this week.

Paul Sekhon, head of the group, said “We are going for a heavy duty strike much bigger than December 9th,” which created bottleneck during Toronto streets, with one cabbie going so far as to holding onto an Uber vehicle and getting dragged down the street.

Last week, the decision by Toronto City Council to delay a possible injunction against UberX, was the final straw to take matters into their own hands, say organizers.

Mayor John Tory, who helped kick off NBA All-Star Weekend this morning, addressed the possible taxi strike and begged taxi drivers not to disrupt the event, which will be broadcast in 215 countries, and expected to bring economic boosts of $85-100 million into the city, like it has with previous host cities.

Tory said “It doesn’t enhance the reputation of the taxi industry or their cause,” adding protests would “not speed up by one minute” the work being done by city staff in coming up with new bylaws for Uber and taxis.

The Mayor said he has not spoken with Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, but did add “Law enforcement officials will have to take whatever steps necessary” to handle protests.

Uber was recently approved with a taxi brokerage license for its taxi operations in the city, while also recently Aviva Canada was approved to provide ridesharing insurance coverage for UberX drivers.

Edmonton recently became the first city in Canada to legalize Uber, and is being seen as a model of how a city can work together to embrace fast-emerging sharing economy models.

Will these protests lead to support for taxi companies from the public or harm their message in the fight against Uber?

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