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Susan Jones had a long and busy career with the City of Ottawa. Photo: YouTube
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Uber reps were “smooth operators” Jones says of 2014 meeting at which they were told to apply for a Taxi brokerage license

Now retired, Susan Jones held numerous post in Ottawa’s City government including Acting Deputy City Manager and General Manager, Emergency and Protective Services. Her knowledge of Ottawa’s Taxi by-laws and enforcement measures are encyclopedic. Photo: YouTube

In scrum after a meeting with Uber representatives in 2014, Susan Jones told media that Uber was welcome to come to Ottawa as long as it complied with all the rules that defined the existing taxi industry.

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A meeting held with Uber around September, 2014 seemed to be purely a “public relations exercise,” retired Ottawa Deputy City Manager Susan Jones said this morning.

“They were smooth operators,” Jones recalls of Uber representatives at the meeting. “They thanked us for the by-laws.”

Jones said she had no certainty that Uber planned to comply with Ottawa’s by-laws.

A YouTube video of Jones’ comments to media shortly after the meeting is still available to view on YouTube.

“And so, you were giving them this information, as the video certainly indicates in categorical terms, that they had to be in compliance with the taxi by-law if they wanted to operate their business in Ottawa?” Thomas Conway, counsel for plaintiff Metro Taxi asked Jones.

“Correct,” Jones replied.

“But in fact, Uber began operating in Ottawa in October of 2014, without any kind of broker’s license,” Conway stated.

“I believe so, we laid our first charge in November, late October, it was certainly around that time,” Jones agreed.

“Uber had not applied for a broker’s license; then, it had not been approved for one. Their drivers had not obtained taxicab driver’s licenses. So it’s fair to conclude from what you’ve just said, that you, on behalf of the city and the city itself, believed that Uber was operating illegally from the moment they started operating in Ottawa?” Conway summarized.

“I think that’s fair to say,” Jones replied.

Members of Ottawa’s taxi industry launched the $215 million class-action lawsuit in April 2016, alleging the city did not protect drivers and the industry when ride-sharing services hit city streets. The suit also claims the city discriminated against minority taxi plate holders by failing to enforce its own bylaw and changing the bylaw to allow private transportation companies.

A key element of this trial is the allegation that the City of Ottawa “in failing to enforce its By-law and in changing the By-law, the City discriminated on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, ethnic or national origin, religion or creed, language, place of origin, or citizenship, contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code,” according to the class action.

The lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Metro Taxi Ltd., co-owner Marc Andre Way and Iskhak Mail,