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Why Isn’t the Government Backing the CRTC on the Wireless Code? [Update: They Are Now]

Update 5/7/14: Government reverses course and announces it will back up the CRTC in court.

The Canadian Press reports that the federal government appears ready to walk away from the CRTC’s proposed enforcement of the new consumer wireless code.  While the government has touted the code as an example of a pro-consumer approach, the CRTC’s attempt to ensure the code applied as quickly as possible may be lost due to the government’s decision to stay out of a legal battle over the issue. With the major telcos looking to limit the power of the CRTC and a federal court ruling that the Commission cannot advocate for itself, it falls to the federal government to do so. 

The issue was raised yesterday in the House of Commons, yet the government refused to respond directly:

Mr. Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury, NDP): 

Mr. Speaker, while the Conservatives claim credit for the CRTC’s wireless code of conduct as their policy, Canadians continue to be hit in the pocketbook waiting for action. The NDP has been pushing for this code since the beginning, but now, as the code of conduct is being challenged by the big three in court, the current government has simply walked away from it. The Conservatives keep spending millions in advertisement to tell Canadians how great their not-so-original idea is. Why are the Conservatives not putting their efforts into defending the code of conduct instead of boasting about it while it is being struck down?

Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):  

Mr. Speaker, of course, this government has done extraordinary work with respect to our telecom policy. In fact, competition has increased. At the same time, wireless rates have come down by 20% while employment in this sector has actually increased by some 25%. That is good news for all Canadians. It is something that has been a priority for us. Putting more money back in the pockets of hard-working Canadians will remain a priority of this government, and we are proud of that.

Calandra was asked one more time abut the issue and again responded with talking points, rather than providing an answer about the government’s decision not to defend the CRTC and the code.  It is worth asking the question again – why isn’t the government backing the CRTC and the code?

3 Comments

  1. Andrew Seipp says:

    Rates have come down?
    > At the same time, wireless rates have come down by 20% while employment in this sector has actually increased by some 25%.

    I’m not sure where Mr. Calandra has been, but this is categorically false. Wireless rates are up significantly especially after the code was implemented. The mismanagement of this sector by the government is absolutely atrocious and I worry what further action they are going to take to “fix” the wireless market only to have it backfire.

  2. @Andrew I have owned a cell phone for most of the past 25 years and there is no doubt that rates/prices have come down substantially. I remembering paying $3500 for a Motorola Dynatac back in the mid 80′s – that’s equal to about $7000 in 2014 dollars. There were no subsidies on phones back then, you couldn’t send a text message, it cost $1.50 per minute to talk, and the battery only had about 40 minutes of talk time.

    However, what has changed is that people are using their phones more than ever. Rates have gone down but usage has increased so people are actually spending more. But my cellphone isn’t just a cellphone anymore, it’s a phone, email platform, internet browser, TV, game center, shopping tool, payment organizer, magazine rack, GPS navigator, camera, photo studio, fitness coach, travel planner, etc.

    What I found most amusing is watching the feds take credit for a pricing trend that started 25 years before they started doing anything.

  3. Many good points made Cynic. I like to pride myself on being the devil’s advocate, but I can’t find anything to rebut with. Maybe the “Big 3″ shouldn’t be taking all the blame. Maybe the CRTC and Federal government should stop wasting taxpayer’s money and eliminate certain BS taxes. Wouldn’t that put more money back into the hands of “hard working Canadians”.

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