Quebec Premier Couillard open to legalizing UberX-style services
The ride-hailing app Uber is shown on a smartphone in Montreal, Thursday, May 14, 2015. (Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Jocelyne Richer, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, August 15, 2015 7:12PM EDT
SHAWINIGAN, Que. -- Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is showing himself open to legalizing UberX-style means of transportation, despite opposition from the taxi industry.
If he moves forward in this direction, Couillard's Liberals would align themselves with their youth wing, who adopted a resolution Saturday asking Quebec to pass laws regulating the "new practices" stemming from a "new sharing economy."
Several hundred members of the Quebec Liberal Party's youth wing gathered this weekend in Shawinigan to discuss regional development and the sharing economy.
Currently, UberX is not regulated by the province and its drivers do not have taxi permits.
Provincial Transport Minister Robert Poeti, who previously appeared lukewarm on the idea of legalizing Uber-style platforms, said he was at the meeting to listen to the arguments of the youth, and that the government would act in due course.
He pointed out the president of UberX admitted that its drivers don't pay a single cent in taxes to the province.
"There is not a single tax dollar perceived from a company that calls itself a multimillionaire that is paid in Quebec, and what's more, they're not regulated by any permit," Poeti said.
He expressed doubt at the willingness of the company's directors to work in a legal framework.
"When I look at what they do around the world, they don't want to be legalized in any way," he said.
Despite these obstacles, Couillard in a news conference on Saturday agreed with his party's youth wing that these types of services were "a good idea," in keeping with the times.
"But it has to be framed in a way that creates a competitive climate that is appropriate with other chauffeurs," he said.
"I think we're interested," he said. "Our minister is interested in looking at the idea of framing that in a way that creates a fair environment for all the participants."
Poeti reminded onlookers that he had met the different players in the taxi industry at the beginning of the summer. That meeting focused on modernizing the industry, which has been increasingly threatened by services like UberX.