It may have lost the latest battle against Uber, but the province’s taxi industry said it intends to win the war.
On Tuesday, Quebec Superior Court Judge Michel Déziel ruled against a provisional injunction the industry filed last week — an emergency measure to stop a government pilot project that would allow Uber to operate legally in the province.
The judge ruled there was no urgency in this case because the pilot project has not yet begun, despite the fact the government reached a deal with the ride-sharing company on Sept. 7. The taxi industry’s request was premature because the pilot project can only begin 15 days after the minister publishes a decree outlining the project’s conditions, which had not happened as of Tuesday.
However, taxi industry representatives took the judgment as a partial victory, because it means that if there is no pilot project in place, Uber is still operating illegally. On Tuesday, the industry planned to file another emergency request — a provisional injunction asking a judge to order Uber to suspend its activities. That motion will likely be heard Thursday in court.
“We have a victory, because we know that there is no pilot project, which means Uber is acting illegally, so it must be stopped,” said Guy Chevrette, a spokesperson for the owners of taxi companies.
Chevrette and Benoit Jugand, a spokesperson for the union representing drivers, called for calm among taxi drivers, saying they are confident the courts will rule their way.
When asked if there were any pressure tactics planned, however, Jugand smiled and said: “We’ll keep that to ourselves for now.”
Taxi drivers have engaged in several noisy demonstrations, honking their horns and blocking major streets around the city in protest of Uber.
Déziel ordered the parties to return to court in January for a hearing on a permanent injunction against the government’s pilot project. The taxi industry took this as recognition that their matter was important, and worthy of being heard quickly.
Taxi drivers and owners argued in court that Transport Minister Laurent Lessard overstepped his authority by negotiating the agreement with Uber, since the new law governing the industry states the minister can only initiate a pilot project with a certified taxi company.
Jugand called on Lessard to put a stop to Uber.
“You know, they were sitting next to Uber, fighting against the industry; now we’re asking for them to fight with us to stop Uber from operating illegally,” Jugand said.
Lawyers for both Uber and the province argued the minister is within his rights to adopt a pilot project for the sake of innovation. They also stated the project is a temporary measure, to last just one year.
In a statement issued by email, Uber Quebec said it was pleased with the ruling.
“Today’s ruling is a confirmation that we can continue serving Quebecers under our agreement with the government,” said Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, Uber Quebec’s general manager. “Our focus remains offering a quality transportation alternative under the terms established by the pilot project and imposed by the government.”
A spokesperson for the government declined to comment on Tuesday.