Amazon met with Canadian federal government 99 times in the past 12 months

Parliament Hill Front Entrance

US-based e-commerce giant Amazon lobbied Canada’s Liberal government more than any other tech company in the last 12 months.

According to a report by Radio-Canada — which MobileSyrup was able to verify thanks to the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada (OLC) website — Amazon met 99 times with Canada’s Liberal government.

Google met with the government 37 times, Microsoft met 35 times, while Netflix — which recently pledged $500 million CAD to bolster Canadian content — met with government officials 8 times.

Google met with the government 37 times, Microsoft met 35 times, Netflix 8 times.

According to the OLC website, government institutions and agencies ranging from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to Canada Border Services Agency to National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces were lobbied in the process.

Unsurprisingly, companies like Google, Microsoft, and Netflix all expressed some interest in amending Canada’s Copyright Act, Competition Act, Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), as well as the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission Act.

Industry lobbying comes as no surprise to transparency advocate

Duff Conacher is the co-founder of Ottawa-based not-for-profit Democracy Watch. The group advocates for democratic reform and as well as government accountability and transparency.

Conacher says it’s not surprising that any corporation of any kind is lobbying Canada’s federal government.

“The unanswered question is whether the government has met with the American companies much more than they have met with Canadian companies and organizations on the same issues.”

“I am not surprised that American tech giants are lobbying the government as they have business interests in Canada that they want to protect,” said Conacher, in an email to MobileSyrup. “I am also not surprised that the government is meeting with them. The unanswered question is whether the government has met with the American companies much more than they have met with Canadian companies and organizations on the same issues.”

Amazon, for instance, lobbied the Office of the Minister of International Trade in order to “work with law makers to better harmonize consumer protection and cross-provincial regulations.”

“If Cabinet ministers and top government officials have met with the American companies more than with Canadian companies and organizations, they have given preferential treatment to the American companies and the federal Ethics Commissioner should investigate to determine whether that has happened because of donations or other unethical favours or connections that the American companies have to the government.”

Indeed, what’s astonishing is the ardour with which some of these U.S.-based tech conglomerates have sought out government correspondence.

In comparison, Rogers Communications only lobbied the government 38 times in the past month; the Royal Bank of Canada only lobbied 35 times; while TD Bank, Canada’s largest, only lobbied 22 times. Shopify, which notably has its own Director of Government Relations, is listed once (Shopify, however, is also a member of Council of Canadian Innovators, which is tasked with lobbying on behalf of the Canadian tech ecosystem. Hat tip: Sarah Marion, noted lobbying ranter).

This article was originally published on MobileSyrup. It has been updated to provide the correct number of Netflix lobbying visits.

Sameer Chhabra

Sameer Chhabra

Sameer Chhabra is a staff writer at MobileSyrup.