NDP plans to stall Uber's drive to Manitoba until fall

The NDP says it plans to hold-up the passage of the government bill introduced last month until next fall. The proposed bill would offload the rules and regulations for the taxi industry onto municipalities.

Opposition says government needs to ensure ride-sharing apps operate on even playing field

The Uber logo is seen in front of protesting taxi drivers who were depositing a request for an injunction against the ride sharing company at the courthouse Tuesday, February 2, 2016 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Uber's drive to Winnipeg could get stuck in neutral until the fall thanks to the stall tactics of the Opposition NDP.

The NDP says it plans to hold up the passage of the government bill that would help usher Uber into Winnipeg until next fall. The proposed bill introduced last month would offload the rules and regulations for the taxi industry onto municipalities. 

"Pallister is off-loading the tough decisions and is potentially paving the way for an uneven playing field," said Fort Rouge MLA Wab Kinew. "The course that Pallister is pursuing would set-up a two-tiered taxi system ... if you are in favour of competition, then ensure there is an even playing field."

The proposed bill dissolves the Manitoba Taxicab Board and puts power in the hands of Manitoba municipalities to regulate all vehicles for hire — which could let communities, including Winnipeg, welcome ride-booking services. 

Mayor Brian Bowman has publicly expressed his support for seeing Uber enter the Winnipeg market.

Several taxi drivers came to the legislature Monday to offer their own concerns about the bill, echoing Kinew's concerns that Uber and Lyft don't operate at an even playing field with the standard cab industry.

Change 'out of respect for Winnipeg'

In other Canadian cities, taxi drivers have complained that Uber drivers operate outside of costly insurance and safety regulations that cabs must follow.

"It's an open book given to the city, whatever you want you can write it," cab driver Randy Chhokar said about the legislation.

"It was just dropped from the roof and we had no opportunity to look at the bill."

Pallister said the bill falls in line with vehicle-for-hire rules in major Canadian cities which — except for Winnipeg — have always been able to set their own rules for the taxi industry.

"(It's) out of respect for Winnipeg," Pallister said Monday. "We are the only province that doesn't let municipalities make their own decisions ... We want a level playing field and I suspect the city wants the same."

Tuition cap thaw also stalled

NDP MLA Wab Kinew says he wants to make sure that Uber drivers operate around the same rules as standard taxi drivers. (CBC)

Kinew, who is also the education critic for the NDP, said his party will also delay passage of the government's proposed bill that would increase the tuition cap. The bill introduced last month would cap tuition increases at five per cent annually, plus inflation. Legislation introduced by the NDP in 2011 capped tuition to the rate of inflation.

Kinew said stalling the bill's passage until the fall will give students some breathing room by ensuring tuition would not increase in the fall semester.

"What the NDP has done today is taken a step to ensure the law doesn't pass until November, when the academic year is already underway," Kinew said. 

Any bill introduced by the government by March 20 or earlier is guaranteed passage by the end of the spring session and would come into effect June 1. However, under the current rules the Opposition is allowed to choose five bills it wants held over until the fall session. 

With files from Sean Kavanaugh