Quebec’s taxi industry suffered a loss on Thursday as the province’s Superior Court sided with Uber in the ongoing legal battle, in which cabbies are demanding to have the ride-sharing service’s operations declared illegal and its permit revoked.
According to a new report from the National Post, taxi companies and the unions that represent their drivers, believe Transport Minister Laurent Lessard exceeded his authority when signing a deal with Uber in 2016. The agreement gave Uber a one-year operating license in the province with the possibility of renewal.
Upon the signing of the deal, the taxi industry responded by suing both the Quebec government and Uber, arguing that it had created two “parallel” systems of taxis. Taxi drivers and unions believe this is essentially “unfair competition” against those who are regular taxi drivers and permit holders.
In Quebec, taxi drivers are required to either buy or rent an incredibly expensive permit to operate, while Uber drivers are allowed to operate under a different system, allowing them to bypass the permit requirement entirely. Taxi drivers have been arguing that Quebec law requires the government to enter into legal agreements “with actual players in the industry and not outside actors.”
“The law does not require, contrary to what the plaintiffs argue, the holding of a taxi permit in order to take part in a pilot project,” the judge wrote. “The court concludes the minister didn’t exceed his authority in concluding a deal with [Uber].”
Despite the decision, Uber’s future in the region remains uncertain. Uber is threatening to leave Quebec if the province proceeds with imposing new regulations on the company and its drivers, set to come into force on October 14. The new regulations include, among other things, part of the driver training required for regular taxi drivers.