Thanks to Ian for the topic.
Change is always controversial, whether it is to an old regulated industry, or to an old business model.  Take Uber, for example.
Not everyone likes Uber, just think of Canada’s taxi industry, which is being forced into change. Here at home, the BC Provincial Gov’t is pondering what the inevitable re-regulation might look like. And Vancouver City Hall has placed a moratorium on Uber until such re-regulation is in place.
According to Ian Bailey in the Globe and Mail, Uber is not universally cooperative when they enter a market. This probably does not make too many friends, and points to some aspects of their business practices:

Brishen Rogers, an associate professor of law at Temple University in Philadelphia who has written on Uber, said on Sunday that the company’s position in relation to B.C. is atypical compared to its approach in the U.S. and Europe.

“The company’s standard procedure in the U.S. and Europe has been to drive first and ask questions later,” he said in an e-mail exchange.

He said the company has faced lawsuits in the United States, strikes by U.S. drivers and push back from taxi drivers and regulators in Europe that may be forcing it into a new maturity.

Erika Shaker writes at with some stinging insight. She also compares press response to Uber’s “App-italism” with response to proposals for change made by Canada Post’s union (Canadian Union of Postal Workers – CUPW).

But let’s be clear: there is nothing unconventional or remotely innovative about corporations that rationalize exploitation — of a workforce, of political connections, of rules that exist to protect a minimum standard of rights, dignity and safety — to justify their continued pursuit of profit. After all, that’s what — left unchecked — they’ve pretty much always done.
Uber’s business model, for example, involves a precarious, low-paid, unprotected workforce; a cheeky disregard (read: utter lack of respect) for jurisdictional laws or regulations; and an almost unlimited desire for self-promotion through money and personal or political connections.

But when it comes to CUPW and their vision for Canada Post:

But why is it that when a publicly owned enterprise (or its workers) starts talking about “shaking up” an older business model, rather than being lauded for their innovative thinking, they are accused of overreaching or abandoning their mandate or of delaying the inevitable march towards the future (read: privatization)?
That’s exactly what happened when, earlier this month, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), in conjunction with the Leap Manifesto, released a comprehensive proposal for a green postal service, that re-envisions post offices as community hubs that encourage economic development.



  1. Let’s think about customer service and customer value first please.
    Everyone who has used Uber will attest that the service is superb at a lower price compared to the heavily regulated taxi firms with poor and often unfriendly service.
    The only opposers are those that provide inferior service, over charge or over regulate.
    As to CanadaPost: daily mail delivery should be abolished. 2x or 3x a week is enough for almost anyone in the Amazon, UPS, FedEx, Internet, Facebook and email age ! It is an example of the over reach of unions protecting an overpaid workforce clinging to an outdated business model at all costs.
    Living in a cave with no heat is better as that is the equivalent of hindering progress to electricity ?

  2. There is always a throwing up of hands when a new way of dealing with things happens. Of course Uber also takes the ironhand lockhold off the taxi license industry which right now is picking and choosing who they pick up and who they do not. There is a Taxi LIcencing Office in the VPD, and City Hall maintains a taxi inspection too. But seniors don’t know that, and I know many many seniors that have been denied service because of short trips and don’t know where to complain.
    So while others are taking a whack at uber, this interesting article was published last week in APTA, showing a synergy between people taking ride services like Uber and Lyft, and those taking public transit. Of course it is biased in that it is a public transportation association looking at public transit users, but I think the results are interesting.
    Looking at 4,500 people in seven cities, the researchers of the study found that the more people used shared services like Uber, the more likely they were to use public transit.
    “As the study shows, people who use public transit and these shared services are making a lifestyle change that results in more walking, less driving and greater household savings because of overall lower transportation costs.” said APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall. “It is important that we provide options that complement and enhance our public transit service.”
    References to the APTA study are below.
    And Canada Post? They keep missing that golden opportunity in door to door delivery of checking to ensure that mail is being picked up at residences of elderly occupants. Posties know their door to door customers. Imagine how great that would be if Canada Post could integrate a quick checkin with seniors and ensure that the mail is being picked up, and if not, have a way of identifying that issue for local agencies to follow up on.

  3. It will be a cold day in hell when Canadians turn over food distribution and the care of their seniors to the strike-loving postal workers social cooperative.
    Any study or head shake tells us that the postal service worldwide is being increasingly replaced with private operators that offer very fast package delivery to the door. Google, Amazon and others are concentrating on this package delivery to the home. Canada Post and its community boxes system for the occasional bill and the junk-flyers is running in the opposite direction.
    Ironically, the piece from Rabble could have easily been about the Vancouver taxi business. Particularly the reference to political connections.

    1. Eric, Amazon ships through a contract with Canada Post. Thank the god of your choice for that. UP, FedEx, Purolator and DHL do not have outlets within walking distance of my house if an over-sized Amazon parcel is redirected from my front door if we’re not home. Canada Post has two of them conveniently less than a km in either direction. The exception may be with international orders.

  4. I think the whole attempt to save the current legacy taxi industry jobs are completely futile. In a few years we will have driver less cars and then every car will be a taxi without a worker.

    1. Love to. Let’s not confuse prototypes with widespread acceptance. The e-car, for example, is more than 10 years old, or if you include golf carts, 25+ years. Yet we see very slow acceptance, less than 1% of new vehicles are e-cars. That will increase with cheaper e-cars and wider ranges, such as Tesla’s soon to be announced Model 3. So can we state “e-cars are here” ? Or can we just accept that all things new will take a long LONG time to be main stream, decades usually ?
      Self-driving vehicles exist, today. They are used to test the software and enhance it, in certain cities. Can they drive across the country yet, in snow and ice and gas up (or charge) by themselves ? No, they cannot. Someone at the gas pump or the e-charge station has to actually connect the pipe/cable to the car, disconnect it and bill it. All doable, but that too takes time.
      As such, any “acceptance” is not binary. I can see that in 2025 or more likely 2030 the neighbors in E-Van (or Kits) are complaining that a lot of self-driving vehicles are parking in their neighborhood as parking is free while downtown parking is very expensive. Will we allow cars with people to park for free, but not self-driving cars ? Will we toll empty self-driving vehicles over bridges, say Lionsgate bridge but not the same car with a person in it as the car shuttles the owner from N-Van to downtown, to drive home empty ? Will we allow the empty car to circle around downtown trying to find a paying passenger back to N-Van ? All these policy issues will take far longer to solve than the technology in itself. There will be folks trying to ban human driving, i.e. advocating a fleet of shared cars that anyone can use for a fee, as they are liekly safer. Also see Uber. It is a wonderful technology but opposed by so many. Ditto with self-driving cars.
      It shall be interesting, that is for sure. I will buy one as I do not enjoy riding a car in urban areas due to the constant stop-and-go. Or maybe I just use Car2Go 2.0 with self-driving mode. We shall see.

      1. Some good points Thomas. OK I would say in 5 years that driverless cars will replace ‘most’ taxis and car shares in modern countries.

        1. As stated above that is grossly optimistic as we don’t even have Uber today nor any driverless cars as vehicles to purchase , just research prototypes.
          So I’d say some prototypes in 5, some common routes served by driverless cabs in maybe 10 and “most” at least 15 years out. 2030 at best for ” most “.

  5. In terms of value for money, health, family budgets, and public resources, nothing beats building walkable communities. Next down the list is superior transit and bicycling infrastructure.
    Everything else, including Uber and autonomous cars, requires a vast, overbuilt and barely-able-to maintain public road system with extraordinarily steep external costs to society.
    These are the cold economics that are purposely ignored when critics are motivated only to make a point about “social engineering” and such.

    1. When you look at the pure geometry, Uber will never replace public transit. There just isn’t enough road space no matter how many ‘Uber trains’ you have.

    2. Not quite since cars are required to move goods and people in less dense areas of cities. This is not Europe, built around pedestrians and horses 1000+ years ago !
      People want individual transportation choices. A bus’ only advantage is its low price; everything else is inferior: speed, comfort, sense of space, timeliness, availability …
      Yes we need to make cities more walkable and charge for road use ( both driving and parking)

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