Monday, July 15, 2024
Olivia Chow and her team celebrate victory on June 26th. Photo: Twitter
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Taxi industry hopes for new era as Olivia Chow wins election, becomes Toronto’s Mayor

Chow has already acknowledged that the special treatment given to Uber was unfair, and that the ground transportation industry needs reform

Olivia Chow and Abdul Mohamoud of Co-op Cabs.

Olivia Chow is Toronto’s new mayor.

Chow, a former City Councillor, widow of federal New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jack Layton, and candidate for mayor in 2014 was declared the by-election winner with 37 per cent of the votes. John Tory’s endorsed candidate Ana Bailão achieved 32 percent. Doug Ford’s favourite and former police chief Mark Saunders received only 8 per cent, with journalist Anthony Furey at 5 per cent.

Abdul Mohamoud, CEO of Co-op Cabs, attended Chow’s victory party and is optimistic Chow will live up to the commitments she has made to the Taxi industry: “I have had the opportunity to talk to Olivia privately and so have my colleagues. And we really liked what she said,” Mohamoud says.

The nine years since Chow lost to John Tory in the 2014 mayoralty race were catastrophic for the Taxi industry, as Tory and then-police chief Mark Saunders steadfastly refused to enforce existing laws including the Highway Traffic Act on Uber when it arrived in Toronto and began conducting business in defiance of legislation, regulation and insurance requirements. New, Uber-specific City by-laws and a unique insurance product were eventually presented and approved in 2016.

In this 2023 race, Taxi industry members organized early to support Chow over Tory cronies including Bailão and Saunders. Chow met with industry members, visited the Taxi corral at the Billy Bishop Airport and spoke at a large community dinner co-sponsored by the industry on June 18th.

Olivia Chow spoke at a Taxi industry/community event held June 18th in Etobicoke.

Speaking at a June 18th Taxi/community event, Chow said, “There are a lot of cracks in the sky to fix,” referencing Toronto’s decision to allow Uber to conduct business in the city by a completely different set of regulations.

“There’s a lot of unfair practice the practices industry. Why is it fair that the Uber charge a different dollar amount, than taxis? Charges should be equal: that’s right, equality.

“This is what Canada is all about, that there needs to be equality. The other thing is this: if you flood the market with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds non stop, Uber licenses, then everybody loses,” Chow said, referring to the “open entry” system for which Toronto has opted. Open entry increased the number of vehicles for hire on the road from about 5,500 to about 90,000.

“Everybody loses because there are too many. When there’s too many drivers, whether you’re an Uber driver or a Taxi drivers, it means that you can work very long hours and not going to make ends meet. And life is already really unaffordable.

“Government definitely has a role to play to do to help the taxi industry, we need to do it. It is so unfair when you drive taxi many long years, and you want to retire with dignity retired with a pension, with money then you feel secure that you don’t have to worry, but how are you gonna retire when the plates or when the whole system is not working?” Chow asked, again to much applause from the audience which contained many Taxi industry drivers, owners and organizers.

“There are problems, we need to fix them. I’ve heard that there’s a report they’re supposed to come out. Years and months have gone by, it hasn’t come out just anymore just stand idly by and not do anything. That’s not who I am. I do not stand idly by. I work hard.”

“The status quo is not going to work. I pledge to work with you. I make mistakes, because no one is perfect…what we need to do is to have a strong committee at City Hall, with you as the representative, with you, your voice at City Hall.

“Together, we are stronger. We can heal the cracks. So let’s come together and open up City Hall… let’s create a city together. That is more caring, more affordable. Safer, where every one of you belong.

“Are you with me? Are we gonna win? Well, I need you to come out to vote… together, let’s do this, we will win and we will reform the industry together.”