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Quebec taxi drivers clog streets to protest government's industry overhaul

MONTREAL — Quebec’s transport minister is defending his plan to overhaul the province’s taxi industry as drivers across the province strike in protest.

Thousands of angry taxi drivers clogged the streets during rush hour this morning, causing major traffic jams in Montreal and Quebec City.

Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel said his government will not increase planned compensation totalling $500 million for drivers who have seen the value of their permits drop with the arrival of Uber and other ride-hailing applications.

The minister, who was making an announcement in the Quebec City region, is due to meet with taxi industry representatives Tuesday. He said he is ready to hear their complaints but also to defend aspects of the deregulation that he says will benefit them.

He said today’s pressure tactics only inconvenience taxi customers unable to hail a cab and motorists caught behind the slow-moving protest convoys.

Taxi drivers claim the legislation tabled last week is a gift to Uber that will drive them out of business and cost them tens of thousands of dollars.

The Canadian Press