Staunch Uber opponent received donations from cab industry

Published: July 16, 2015

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Callum Micucci

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A Toronto city councillor who issued a dire warning to Uber drivers and passengers July 14 had received political campaign donations from those involved with the taxi industry, according to the Globe and Mail.

City Councillor Jim Karygiannis warned UberX drivers and passengers yesterday that they would be subject to fines if caught using the service.

“Under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, a person who arranges for a ride in an unlicensed taxi [can be fined between] $300 and $20,000,” Karygiannis told reporters Tuesday in a city hall press conference.

In an article published in April of 2015, the Globe and Mail examined 2014 municipal election expenses, finding that Karygiannis received “at least $7,600 — almost 10 per cent of his campaign funding — from people with ties to the taxi industry,” reads part of the article.

However, as the Globe and Mail says, this isn’t against the city council’s code of conduct.

“You think $7,000 makes a difference to me?” Karygiannis said of the findings in April, “It doesn’t change my mind. I’ve been at it too long to be influenced by a couple of bucks.”

Karygiannis was appointed to the city’s licensing and standards committee, which does deal with taxi regulations in the city. He told the Globe that his concerns with Uber predate his campaign.

Karygiannis’s warning came the same day as Uber announced it would be offering a new service to Torontonians during the Pan Am Games, called UberPool. It allows drivers to pick up two different requests along a similar route, offering a discount to riders.

 The move coincides with an increased level of congestion in the city and new HOV lanes that require three or more occupants.

“We have been looking at Toronto as an option for UberPool for quite some time,” Uber Canada general manager Ian Black said.

“Timing it to the Pan Am Games, and supporting the city when it’s so clogged up for the Pan Am Games—I think there is a great potential for the city,” he said.

The city’s attempt to block Uber’s operation in the city was shot down in early July, as the judge sided with Uber’s contention that it isn’t a taxi brokerage, it’s a technology firm.

“The simple fact of the matter is that it does not require ducks to be licensed,” reads part of Justice Sean Dunphy’s decision. “None of the ancillary aspects of Uber’s business — recruiting drivers, marketing, billing, customer relations and the like — is subject to a requirement to obtain a license. Accepting calls for transportation does require a license and Uber does not do that,” he concluded.