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Gord Perks makes stunning admission at Council: training “doesn’t fit Uber’s business model”

The binder required by Toronto’s Taxi driver training program was hundreds of pages long. It did not fit Uber’s business model, Gord Perks told Council on November 10. Photo: Beck Taxi

During the online meeting of Toronto Council held November 10th, Councillor Gord Perks made a stunning admission which appeared to confirm the worst fears of Toronto’s entire Taxi industry.

Perks detailed some of the motivations and actions which occurred when Toronto Council voted to permit ride hailing companies to operate with a set of rules which were different and more lenient than those mandated for Taxis.

Here is the full transcript of Councillor Perks’ remarks:

“Being a City Councillor, you do accumulate a few regrets here and there. One of the regrets I have accumulated is probably, within the first month or two of being elected to Toronto City Council, Howard Moscow told me, ‘Don’t get involved with taxis.’ And I didn’t listen to him.

Instead, I got deeply involved in working on taxis and private transportation companies probably the single thing that I spent more time on it working together with the Deputy Mayor, Deputy Mayor Minnan-Wong, and John Tory’s senior staff was trying to figure out how to get a safe system for taxis and private transportation companies. The sticking point, the point where we really couldn’t get it solved, was this issue of driver training.

The City of Toronto used to run driver training to a very high standard. And some voices in the conversation felt, ‘Oh, no, you can’t impose that on Uber, because it doesn’t fit Uber’s business model.

Councillor Gord Perks’ remarks at the November 10 online meeting of Toronto Council provided a motive for Toronto to eliminate driver training: “a bunch of venture capitalist tech bros to say they’re different and the rules don’t apply to them.”

We went back and forth, and back and forth. We sat in Councillor Janet Davis’ office and argued about this for hours. And we came up with a solution that might just have worked. It might just have worked.

And then, some a group of councillors went and undermined the agreement that we all came to. At the last minute, the morning of the day we voted to make this system legal, that whole agreement was pulled out from under us.

And here we are today.

A problem with all the taxi issues has always been, there’s always a group of people ready to go behind the scenes and undermine good public policy. We are in this circumstance, not because Mr. Grant isn’t doing his job, not because of the pandemic.

But because of a deliberate and concerted effort by a bunch of venture capitalist tech bros to say they’re different and the rules don’t apply to them. And that if we require their drivers have to be trained thoroughly, and how to operate a vehicle, their business model doesn’t work. And we don’t get to disrupt the taxi industry.

Well, they sure have disrupted it. There’s a reason we have regulations in place for safety. And the tech bros disrupted it. And I’m sick of it. I’m sick of this council not taking ownership for the mistakes made when it allowed private transportation companies to come in and put untrained, untrained drivers on the street.

Yes, it’s an awful mess that we are considering putting a temporary freeze on an RFP and it’s about to go out. But again, it’s not the pandemic’s fault. It’s not Mr. Grant’s fault.

It’s the fault that mess we made when we decided that the Ubers of the world could come in and operate on our streets without proper training. And if it means we have to take a few risks in terms of how occurred RFP is working, and we lose a little bit of time, and heaven forbid, maybe we don’t let the market expand as fast as it possibly could. We’re just simply trying to be the adults in the room. Take responsibility for the mistake we made. Grow up, and fix it.”