In what should come as absolutely no shock to anyone who knows anything about Quebec politics, it is looking more and more like Uber is going to leave the province.
Now, Uber is not the first company to be jettisoned from Quebec, but this one feels much more impactful. This isn’t Taco Bell refusing to translate their menu; it’s an attack on innovation, technology, and, frankly, just good free-market economics.
I get that Taxi cab owners are frustrated and desperate. Their $200,000+ taxi medallions are now virtually worthless without government intervention. Investments wrote off. Retirement plans gone.
But change is inevitable. Why would transportation be any different?
Once upon a time, Montreal was the most important city in Canada, with a manufacturing hub second to none. Globalization lowered barriers to entry and opened businesses up to a new world of low labourers.
As a result, the next generation of workers became knowledge workers. Doctors, lawyers, professionals. Language laws, high taxes and an apocalyptic referendum drained all our brain power. They took a short trip down the 401 to Toronto.
If you don’t evolve, you die.
I hear the argument against Uber the company. The PR debacles and the surge pricing hate. But despite which side of the Uber vs Taxi debate you back the optics of a muti-billion dollar, modern, job producing technology company leaving our province because of our government are undeniably bad.
Some other thoughts:
- Uber will eliminate drinking and driving. Fact. Trying to find a cab at 1 in the morning in our freezing winters is prohibitively difficult. Even more so when you are outside of a city center. Pressing a button on iPhone (or watch) is easy. With low costs, readily available supply and ease of use (so easy a drunk person could do it) there is no reason to get behind a wheel even after only a few drinks.
- It’s a better experience. Have you ever chatted with your uber drier? Of course you have. They are courteous, super friendly and will address you in English and French. Their cars are clean, and many offer amenities like water or wifi. And it’s cheaper? No brainer.
- It creates jobs and is better for the economy. Bottom line people *want* to be uber drivers. All they need is a car and an iPhone. Uber drivers are often out of work, between jobs or supplementing a job that may not pay them enough. These are people that are trying to work to improve their situation. They are not sitting at home waiting to collect EmploymentInsurance. They are out there working, providing a service that people want and making money. Sounds like the best parts of capitalism to me.
- Our government officials are children. In a free market economy if your product is inferior you need to a. improve your product. b. change your positions. c. do a or b or lose. Instead, our government wastes tax payer dollars through Revenu Quebec raids of uber drivers, impounding uber cars, and just generally preventing uber drivers from doing their thing.