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Safety vs. Innovation: Kevin O’Leary and Catherine Murray Debate the Merits of Uber

Nothing if not a polarizing force, Kevin O’Leary pulls no punches when it comes to the good, the bad, and the ugly as it pertains to markets and economic opportunities, and has an opinion on just about everything. BNN’s Catherine Murray puts a spotlight on the stocks and stories that dominate the world of finance, interpreting the day’s news with her acute understanding of the inner-workings of the global economy. In the video below, the two debate the merits and drawbacks of the popular app “Uber,” which is currently under scrutiny in Toronto:

O’Leary uses Uber and says the company is an innovator bringing change to Toronto’s stagnant taxi industry. But Murray argues regulation is necessary to ensure safety.

Uber offers riders various services through its online app, from taxi and limousine rides to rides with ordinary drivers through its cheaper UberX application. The Toronto taxi industry says Uber does not follow the rules and regulations instituted by the City to protect the public.

The company applied for a taxi brokerage licence through the city about a month ago. But city of Toronto lawyers are seeking a permanent injunction to shut down Uber’s services.

“I’m a user of Uber. I use cabs. I use limousine services. I want them all. And I don’t want some single-cell amoeba lawyer stopping that,” said O’Leary.

Despite Toronto’s legal bid to regulate Uber, mayor John Tory has said he accepts that ride-hailing apps such as Uber’s are part of the contemporary landscape. As mayor-elect last November, Tory said the technological changes that enabled Uber were “here to stay.”

“Uber’s technology is strengthening the Toronto economy and connecting the public to new transportation options, and we’re working hard to defend the rights of riders and drivers who open the app every day either to get a ride or make a living,” the company said in a statement.

“We remain fully committed to working on a regulatory framework for ridesharing as stopping Uber’s operations in the city will not promote public safety or improve urban mobility for Torontonians.”

BNN/June, 2015