Quebec premier says he could invoke closure to pass taxi bill

Click to play video: 'Quebec taxi drivers worry new legislation will leave them out in the cold' Quebec taxi drivers worry new legislation will leave them out in the cold
WATCH: Quebec could force a vote this week in order to adopt its new taxi legislation, which would make Uber legal in the province. As Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, the premier has not ruled out invoking closure to speed up the process. – Oct 8, 2019

Without new legislation, Uber will be illegal in Quebec as of next week.

Quebec Premier François Legault says he’s not ruling out invoking closure, a parliamentary tool that allows the government to force the National Assembly to vote on Bill 17, its taxi industry reform.

READ MORE: Montreal wants more control over taxi industry once province implements reforms

“The minister (François Bonnardel) is putting a lot of pressure on us also in the opposition to adopt Bill 17,” said Québec Solidaire MNA Ruba Ghazal.

Legault said 70 hours of debate in committee is enough and that the government’s offer to taxi drivers is “quite generous.”

“We offer all holders of permits to reimburse the total cost of these permits. If they paid $50,000, we (will) reimburse $50,000. If they paid $200,000, we (will) reimburse $200,000, which represents $800 million coming from the tax payers’ pockets,” Legault said.

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READ MORE: Quebec taxi industry withdraws pressure tactics after driver hurts himself on live television

However, spokespeople representing the taxi industry, who spoke to reporters at the National Assembly Tuesday, said it’s not enough. They accused the government of backing away from a promise to keep certain quotas in order to protect the taxi industry.

“We say in French, the pérennité des emplois,” said Guy Chevrette, former transport minister who is now the principal advisor to the Association des taxis des régions du Québec (ARTQ). “This last offer yesterday, we don’t have it. We are exactly (in the same) situation when Uber arrived in Quebec.”

Ghazal said taxi drivers accepted less compensation in order to secure their jobs.

READ MORE: Parti Québécois MNA criticizes use of English in taxi bill hearings

The government said it will compensate the drivers immediately, but taxi drivers said they are less than satisfied with the final deal on the table.

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