Montreal taxi driver harms himself on live TV in anger over ride-hailing bill
Warning: This story contains details that some readers may find disturbing.
Montreal taxi drivers abruptly cancelled protest measures Friday after a driver harmed himself on live television to show his disgust with Quebec Premier Francois Legault.
Taxi drivers planned to offer free rides on Friday as part of a province-wide “dumping day” in response to Bill 17, a new piece of legislation introduced earlier this month by the CAQ government. The bill would make it easier for ride-hailing services, like Uber and Lyft, to operate in the province.
By offering free rides for a day, drivers hoped to withhold profits from the province as a show of strength.
A driver interviewed by French-language station LCN voiced his anger over the situation on live TV. The driver, who owns 20 taxi permits, criticized the premier before taking out a sharp object and cutting his arm off-camera. He then showed his bloodied arm to the camera.
“Mr. Legault – he has no heart,” the man said. “And he took my heart.”
A studio technician who saw the man’s injury rushed over to help him.
In response to the incident, the taxi industry scrapped its pressure tactics and is focusing on providing help for any drivers who feel overwhelmed by the situation.
“I invite all my colleagues who are in mental distress, our friends and family who are in distress, to seek out help,” said spokesperson Abdallah Homsy.
“This is normal that you lose sleep over this. It is normal that you feel anxiety. Please don’t isolate yourself. We’re all in this fight together.”
Lynda Poirier from the Quebec Suicide Prevention Centre said supports are available for anyone in distress.
“We have to be so understanding, and we have to encourage people to talk about their distress and remind everybody that there is help, everywhere, all the time,” Poirier said.
Earlier this week, taxi drivers in Montreal and Quebec City caused massive traffic jams to voice anger against the bill, which they say will lead many drivers to go bankrupt.
But the anger isn’t new. The former Liberal government extended a pilot project allowing ride-hailing services to continue in Quebec for another year.