Company Profile: Uber

By Fizza Kulvi, Ph.D Candidate (McMaster University)

Uber lobbying in the news

In July 2022, a leaked cache of internal documents exposed how Uber, under the leadership of co-founder Travis Kalanick, recruited politicians to help in its campaign to disrupt taxi industries in cities across the globe. The documents reveal how European officials including French president Emmanuel Macron (economy minister at the time) and former European Union digital commissioner Neelie Kroes, secretly lobbied for the company putting them in potential breach of EU ethics rules. Uber also sought access to officials and diplomats in the US, including David Plouffe and Jim Messina who both worked for the Obama administration.

The documents also reveal how the ride-sharing service sought to influence elected officials and public opinion in Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta. Uber’s policy team solicited support from former Toronto mayor John Tory after the City of Toronto pursued an injunction against the ride-sharing service for allegedly violating its taxi regulations. A few days later, the federal minister of foreign affairs at the time, John Baird, publicly lamented taxi delays in Ottawa and called on the city to allow Uber (which was already operating unlawfully in the capital).

Who lobbies for Uber in Canada?

Adam Blinick is the acting Director of Public Policy and Communications for Uber Canada. Prior to joining Uber, Blinick held many senior positions in the Canadian government, including Director of Policy at Public Safety, Director of Policy and Senior Policy Advisor at Transport Canada, and special advisor to the Prime Minister.

In the past, Uber Canada has hired lobbyists through consulting firms including StrategyCorp and NATIONAL Public Relations. Many consultants, including Marc Desmarais, Christopher Froggart, Dan Mader, and John Duffy have extensive experience working for government agencies including Transport Canada, Public Safety, Environment Canada, and Employment and Social Development.

The table below reflects all of Uber Canada’s registered lobbyists that have held public office.

NameLobbyist DetailsPositionActive/InactivePublic Offices Held
Adam Blinick  Senior Officer whose lobbying activities represent less than 20% of their duties  Director of Public Policy and Communications, UBER  ActiveDirector of Policy, Public Safety (2012-2013); Director of Policy, Transport Canada (2010-2012); Senior Policy Advisor, Transport Canada (2009-2010); Special Assistant, Prime Minister’s Office (2008-2009)  
Jake BrockmanSenior Officer whose lobbying activities represent 20% or more of their duties  Manager, Public PolicyInactiveSpecial Assistant, MP Rob Oliphant, House of Commons (May-August 2010)
Michael van HemmemSenior Officer whose lobbying activities represent 20% or more of their duties  Senior Public Policy ManagerInactiveDirector of Policy, Transport Canada (2008-2011)
Jean-Christopher de le RueSenior Officer whose lobbying activities represent less than 20% of their duties  Senior Communication AssociateInactiveDirector of Communication, Public Safety (2013-2015); Press Secretary, Veteran Affairs (2011-2013)
Marc Desmarais  ConsultantConsultant, NATIONAL Public Relations  InactiveExecutive Assistant to the Minister, Foreign Affairs (1997-1999); Assistant to the Leader of the Opposition, Senate of Canada (1985-1987); Assistant to MP Alain Tardif, House of Commons (April-December 1984); Assistant to MP Jean-Claude Malépart, House of Commons (April-June 1984)  
Christopher Froggatt  ConsultantConsultant, NATIONAL Public Relations  InactiveChief of Staff, Transport Canada (2008-2010); Chief of Staff, Environment Canada (2007-2008)  
Dan Mader  ConsultantConsultant, NATIONAL Public Relations  InactiveChief of Staff, National Defence (2011-2012); Chief of Staff, Employment and Social Development (January-May 2011); Chief of Staff, Environment Canada (2010-2011); Director of Policy, House of Commons (2010-2011); Director of Policy, Transport Canada (2008-2009); Director of Policy, Environment Canada (2007-2008); Executive Assistant, Minister of Finance (January-February 2007); Policy Advisor Treasury Board Secretariat, President’s Office (2006-2007)  
John Duffy  ConsultantConsultant, StrategyCorp Inc.InactiveSpecial Assitant, Employment and Immigration (August 1993); Special Assistant, Employment and Immigration (May-August 1984); Special Assistant, Environment Canada (May-August 1983)  

What does Uber lobby about in Canada?

From the summer of 2021 up until Bill 88 was passed, Uber lobbied federal and provincial policymakers in an effort to procure a legislative assurance that its drivers and delivery couriers would not classify as employees but as dependent contractors. This would give Uber drivers some employment rights, like termination pay and minimum wage, but they would not be designated as employees under the provincial Employment Standards Act.

Uber’s lobbying tactics proved successful in April when Ontario Premier Doug Ford introduced the new Working for Workers Act 2022 (Bill 88). While Bill 88 did not explicitly form a separate class of dependent contractors, it enhanced some rights for gig workers while maintaining their status as independent contractors. Labor activists criticized the Bill for misclassifying gig workers as independent contractors and undermining their right to the employment protections guaranteed under the Employment Standards Act.

Over the last six months, Uber’s lobbying efforts have centered around employment and, to a lesser extent, climate. The ride-sharing service has attempted to shape legislation regarding taxation, transportation, and safety as well as policies and programs regarding cannabis, employment, and COVID-19 vaccine awareness. The table below reflects the specific topics, legislative proposals, and policies Uber has sought to influence in Canada and was created using information from the Registry of Lobbyists.

TopicsLegislative proposal, bill or resolutionPolicies or program
ClimateChanges to Excise Tax Act, relating to ride sharingAlternative payment options for ground transportation in the National Capital Region
Employment and TrainingMotor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA) with respect to the development and testing of automated vehicle technologiesCompliance with the Cannabis Act
Environment Discussions regarding independent, flexible work opportunities in Canada
Government Procurement Support of Canada’s COVID-19 immunization awareness program
Health Sustainable growth and transition to Electric Vehicles
Justice and Law Enforcement  
Taxation and Finance  

What government institutions does Uber lobby in Canada?

Uber has lobbied 16 government institutions to date. A complete list of institutions was created using information from the Lobbying Registery and is provided below.

  • Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
  • Finance Canada (FIN)
  • Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
  • Health Canada (HC)
  • House of Commons
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED)
  • Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
  • Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)
  • Privy Council Office (PCO)
  • Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
  • Public Safety Canada (PS)
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC)
  • Senate of Canada
  • Transport Canada (TC)
  • Treasury Board Of Canada Secretariat (TBS)