John Ivison: Uber is unlovable, but the federal Liberals were wrong to bash them with a tax

I don’t understand the logic behind Uber being exempt from the HST. The HST is paid by taxis, Uber’s closest competitor, and innovation should not mean an exemption from paying for government services. Uber drivers access medicare and other public services and thus should not be undermining funding for these same services.

Paying HST would not change the fundamentals behind technological disruption, just ensure a more level playing field.

Personally, I was insulted by Uber’s request that I email my MP in support of their position. Instead, I emailed her stating my opposition to Uber’s position:

Travis Kalanick, Uber’s co-founder, has spoken about his desire to eventually move to self-driving cars for Uber vehicles.

Children born in 2017 might never need to learn to drive. As a discussion paper authored by the University of California’s Adam Stocker and Sura Shaheen pointed out recently, automated vehicles and shared mobility applications will have become accepted technology by 2030 and may come to dominate ground transportation by 2050, revolutionizing the car industry in the same way that mobile phones have transformed the telecom industry. This will take millions and millions of cars off the road.

Instead of penalizing Uber drivers and customers, a more sensible way of levelling the playing field with the taxi industry would have been to remove the exceptional circumstance under which all drivers are obliged to pay sales tax if they earn less than $30,000.

If the Liberal government is as keen to innovate as it claims to be, it should reverse the direction of public policy and encourage private transportation companies like Uber and its competitor, Lyft.

Uber has some maturing to do when it comes to the way it treats its employees, its customers and its competitors. But its dynamic pricing, ride-sharing technology is here to stay and it will change global transportation systems for the better. Ottawa should be onside.

Source: John Ivison: Uber is unlovable, but the federal Liberals were wrong to bash them with a tax | National Post


About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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