Cabbies want support from B.C. NDP as Uber debate looms
Green Party plans to introduce ride-hailing legislation this fall
With the Green Party set to introduce ride-hailing legislation this fall that would pave the way for companies like Uber to come to B.C., the NDP could be in an uncomfortable situation.
The taxi industry, which fears ride-hailing will threaten jobs and drive down the cost of taxi licences, helped the New Democrats win six of nine seats in Surrey in the last election.
Blacktop and Checker Cabs president Amrik Mahil, who ran provincially for the NDP in Surrey in 2013, says the NDP should remember that when the ride-hailing discussion returns to Victoria.
"Quite clearly, about four seats are attributed to the taxi industry and trucking," Mahil said, warning the party will not enjoy the same success in the next election if the interests of cabbies aren't looked after.
"They know what will happen to them next time. They won't form a government and they know that."
Rock and a hard place
Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said earlier this month that Vancouver is the largest city in North America without ride-hailing and that needs to change.
"The government cannot stick its head in the sand when it comes to new technology," he said in a statement.
The B.C. Liberals also support bringing the service to B.C.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University political science Prof. Shinder Purewal says the NDP needs to tread carefully on this file because they are relying on the support of the Greens to stay in power.
"The Greens are bringing something the B.C. Liberals basically gave a green light to," he said.
"At the time, the NDP played it down and didn't support the B.C. Liberals to become a welcome mat for Uber-like companies. I think the Greens are bringing back ghosts to haunt this coalition."
During the election campaign, the NDP didn't come out in opposition to ride-hailing companies but did say more consultation was needed with the taxi industry and other stakeholders.