Monday, July 15, 2024
Mayoralty candidate Olivia Chow and Abdul Mohamoud, CEO of Co-op Cabs.
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“Together, we will win and we will reform the industry” Chow tells Taxi industry event

Mayoral candidate Olive Chow was the guest speaker at an event organized by the West Etobicoke Multicultural Association and the Taxi industry on June 18.

“I came to Canada. when I was 13. My father was a teacher, a school superintendent back in Hong Kong. At that time, there was no teaching jobs. He couldn’t find a teaching job,” Chow opened her remarks to the very welcoming crowd.

“So he tried driving taxis…but unlike all of you, my dad didn’t know how to find anywhere. He was always getting lost. And he couldn’t. He couldn’t hear the dispatcher, because his English was British English, not Canadian English. He was always getting lost, it was really difficult.

“So, that didn’t work out. It was hard. But this is the immigrant story. We come to Canada, for our children to make a better life for our children. And my mom at that time, one income, she decided to just go and work in the hotel as a maid. Even though she was a teacher before didn’t matter: she worked hard. That’s another thing about immigrants, right? We work hard. We work long hours, we save up for our kids, so they have a better future,” said Chow, who was the only one of the six front-running candidates to reply to a survey letter sent by the Taxi industry.

“But how are we going to save up for our kids for a better future? If the industry doesn’t work, too well, with the rise of Uber? It’s so unfair. Right? The Somali ladies taught me that if there’s a crack in the sky, if we get together, we can heal it. Yes, we can do that. Yes. If we come together, we can fix the crack in the sky!” she said to thunderous applause. “We are stronger together.”

“There are a lot of cracks in the sky to fix,” Chow continued, 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: f 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.

“Now, back in the days when my mother earning one rent a two bedroom apartment in St. James Town, and there’s still money to pay the rent and feed the kids. So now if you don’t have a house, the rent is so high. It’s so hard. It is just not affordable.

“Which is why I need to build affordable housing. Yes. The city stopped building housing, you just have all the private industry building housing and no housing being built by the government is what happens when like when it’s not balanced. Then the rent goes sky high,” Chow said.

“Government has a role to play, whether it’s building affordable housing, whether it’s providing good service for your kids, get the wading pool to open get the libraries to open seven days a week. Government has a role to play.

“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.”

Chow closed her remarks by touching again on the theme of being an immigrant in Canada and also invoked the memory of her late husband Jack Layton. Layton was a former Toronto City Councillor before he became a federal Member of Parliament and eventually leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party. He led the NDP to it’s most successful election ever in 2011, when it became the Official Opposition. Layton died of cancer only a few months after this enormous political victory.

“As immigrants, I was taught by my mom and dad to work hard to work for other people to serve the community. My late husband and I always believe in the same thing, service service or others make life better for other people. Right? Because when one person has a good life, when the industry has a good life, all of us the entire city of Toronto will benefit. And that’s what we mean, workers know what is needed. So that’s what we’ll do.

“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. It’s coming down to be really close on that Monday. Together, let’s do this, we will win and we will reform the industry together.”