Google, Amazon, Netflix Mount Lobby Crusade on Trudeau Liberals
U.S. tech giants including Google, Amazon and Microsoft have held more than 100 separate meetings with influential members of Canada's Liberal government over the past 12 months, Radio-Canada has learned.
Some critics say those meetings raise ethical issues in light of the government's controversial agreement with Netflix.
Radio-Canada, the French-language arm of CBC, pored over the federal lobby registry and found Amazon had 99 registered communications with decision-makers, while Google had 37, including one with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his two closest collaborators: chief of staff Katie Telford and principal secretary Gerald Butts. Microsoft, Netflix and Facebook also had meetings with federal officials.
(In some cases, two or more entries in the registry can refer to the same meeting.)
Some of the companies showed interest in intellectual property, arts and culture, immigration and broadcasting, according to their lobbying profiles."We are heading towards a total and brutal deregulation that worries everyone," MP Pierre Nantel, the NDP's heritage critic, said in an interview in French.
The Canadian government hasn't hidden the fact that it would like the American e-commerce giant Amazon to set up its second head office in Canada.
Trudeau even sent a letter to Jeff Bezos, the company's CEO. During an armchair discussion last week on artificial intelligence, Trudeau mentioned he was reading The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.
Amazon has said it's "seeking to influence policy direction related to cloud based services."
'Hint of favouritism or privilege'
The Seattle-based company also met with the ministers of industry, small business and employment, the chief of staff of the ministers of heritage and international trade, and a political adviser to Trudeau.
"It's a yellow light here," says René Villemure, founder of the Quebec Institute for Applied Ethics, a group dedicated to the ethical management of organizations.
"It leaves a hint of favouritism or privilege."
Villemure flagged issues with the five meetings Google lobbyists had with Canada Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly and the six with her chief of staff, Leslie Church, who used to work for the search engine.
Google has shown interest in Canada's Copyright Act
Church was Google Canada's director of communications and public affairs from June 2012 to December 2015, according to her LinkedIn page.