Tag Archives: NBA All-Star

Taxi protest called off on NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto

Taxi drivers planning to protest regarding the UberX ride-sharing service in Toronto have performed a U-Turn and decided to call off the protest. The movement was designed to disrupt the start of the NBA All-Star weekend on Friday, the first time the showpiece sporting event has ever been held outside of the USA.

The historic event gave taxi associations an ideal platform to highlight their fight against Uber, while disrupting the NBA weekend would have certainly sent a message to authorities, who are starting to play ball with Uber. However, Mayor John Tory spoke earlier in the week suggesting the protest would not get drivers the sympathy they want and that the picket should be called off.
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Interestingly, the union organizing the protest has backed down and in an unprecedented move has even hinted that authority pressure may be the reason why the protest is called off.

“Emotions overran us … There will be no strike for the NBA All-Star weekend,” Paul Sekhon, of the newly formed United Taxi Workers Association, said on Wednesday at Toronto city hall.

Toronto averted the protest after Sekhon and other taxi industry representatives spoke to city councilors Kristyn Wong-Tam, Janet Davis and Glenn De Baeremaeker, a meeting that clearly cooled tensions for now. However, unions are warning that the city must get its house in order and solve the problem with UberX, which operates illegally in Toronto.

Drivers say the service provides unfair competition because its freelance drivers do not have to go through the same costs and regulatory licensing as taxi operatives. Unions say if Toronto does not solve the Uber problem then another protest will inevitably follow after this weekend.

“We’re not saying we’re calling (the protest) off forever,” said Sam Moini, president of the Fleet Operators Association.

It certainly helped the situation that the councilors involved in the meeting are opposed to UberX, in its current unregulated state at least. They urged consumers in Toronto to avoid using the ride-sharing service that connects passengers with freelance drivers through a smartphone app.

De Baeremaeker said “If you love somebody, do not let them get into an Uber taxi,” while describing UberX as illegal, unsafe, and unfair.

Uber protest to hurt NBA All Star weekend in Toronto

The NBA All Star weekend is one of the biggest events on the American sporting calendar, and this year it will be held in Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. Historic is a good way to describe the February 12 to 14 sporting extravaganza as it is the first time the NBA All-Star is being held outside of the United States.

Canada, the province of Ontario, and the city of Toronto have a lot of pressure because of that fact, and it seems the weekend will face a sizeable obstacle in the form of a giant taxi driver protest.
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Unions representing taxi drivers disgruntled over the rise of the UberX ride-sharing service in the city are organizing a protest next weekend that could bring Toronto to a standstill. Representatives are furious that doors appear to be opening for U.S. based company Uber, which has been operating illegally in Toronto since 2014.

The company is now under consideration for regulation after a city council vote late last year and Aviva Canada’s ride-sharing auto insurance policy for ride-sharing companies has been approved by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). Taxi drivers are awaiting stricter rules against Uber and more protection for their own industry in the face of competition that they view as unfair.

An earlier protest in December brought downtown Toronto to a gridlock and the organizers of the NBA All-Star weekend protest say this new picket will be larger.

“We are going for a heavy duty strike much bigger than December 9th,” said Paul Sekhon, head of the newly formed United Taxi Workers Association of the GTA.

While public transport will still ship the majority of fans to the event, the Toronto government is suitably worried by a protest that could bring large parts of the city, including the area around the Air Canada Centre, to a standstill. Mayor John Tory said the 2016 All-Star game could bring as much as $100 million to the city and he said police may be forced to “take whatever steps necessary” to make sure the event is successful.

“It doesn’t enhance the reputation of the taxi industry or their cause,” Tory said of a protest. “I really, really hope” the industry sees the city is moving as fast as it can.