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Canada's Do-Not-Hesitate-To-Call List Goes From Bad to Worse

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Thursday October 20, 2005
Members of Parliament spent more than two hours on Wednesday debating Bill C-37, Canada' s proposed do-not-hesitate-to-call list.  The debate makes for a depressing read - Canada' s elected officials each trip over themselves in self-congratulation as they render the list ever more useless.

For those new to the issue, the government introduced do-not-call legislation late last year.  Hearings before a parliamentary committee gutted the bill with new exceptions for polling companies, charities, political parties, and businesses with "pre-existing" business relationships (defined to include prior business transaction in the previous 18 months or a mere inquiry over the previous six months).

After this week' s debate, it is clear that the bill is going to be even worse.  The MPs tried to add another exception, this one for Canadian newspapers, who would be entitled to freely solicit for new subscribers.  The reason for this exception?  According to one MP "it is about literacy and freedom of speech. Newspapers contribute to the democratic dialogue in Canada. In fact, section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including the freedom of the press."

As for the other exceptions, the MPs justified each (presumably with a straight face):
  • the exception for political parties "allows for freedom of speech and for get out the vote campaigns"
  • the exception for charities is needed otherwise "they would have been condemned to die"
  • the exception for polling companies is needed because an effective do not call list could lead to "unrepresentative samples of the Canadian public created by unreliable survey results"
  • the prior business relationship is needed for organizations "in order to survive."
What is particularly galling about the debate is the obvious inconsistency of the MPs.  As they rush to congratulate one another for a job well done, they all acknowledge that their constituents overwhelmingly want a do-not-call list (one study found that 97 percent of Canadians find the calls irritating) and that Canadians should have a right to privacy.  They also maintain that the do-not-call list benefits the telemarketing industry.  Notes one MP:

"In truth, they no longer call people who do not want to be called and say so. Representatives only call people who are willing to be called. So this increases the effectiveness of their calls. That way, they can provide better services to their clients because the company has achieved its objectives and its operating costs are lower, compared to when it made random calls. Often, by calling people who did not want to be called, they wasted countless minutes and grew frustrated."

Left unanswered is why all these exceptions are needed if calling people who do not want to be called is a waste of time.  One would have thought that charities, political parties, polling companies, newspapers, and businesses don' t want to waste their time.

The reality, of course, is that they don't want to waste their time.  They want to waste ours.

Comments (8)add comment

Bibous said:

time for a new charity
I can see it now, a privacy advocy charity dedicated to calling politicians hourly, 24/7 asking for redress of these silly exemptions.
October 20, 2005

Random said:

What?
The following is one of the worst written sentences and/or spoken stament I have ever seen in my life.

"In truth, they no longer call people who do not want to be called and say so. Representatives only call people who are willing to be called. So this increases the effectiveness of their calls. That way, they can provide better services to their clients because the company has achieved its objectives and its operating costs are lower, compared to when it made random calls. Often, by calling people who did not want to be called, they wasted countless minutes and grew frustrated."

October 20, 2005

Sandy said:

What part is unclear to our government?

If people don't want to be bothered by unwanted calls, why ANY exceptions?

I'd guess 95% of telemarketers could squeeze past the gaping exeptions.
October 21, 2005

Roy said:

...
I don't see any reason for the list at all. Marketing is part of life in our society.

If marketer, solicitor or pollster calls, I hang up if I don't have time for it. If I have time I might listen. If I'm bored, I might try to have some fun with them.

Seems we want to spend buckets on trivial nuisances but can't afford things like prompt surgery.
October 23, 2005

Ken Walker said:

none
For anyone following this issue, I see that the Do not call list Working Group submitted its reports on July 26, 2006. see [ link ]. As far as I can see, nothing further has happened.
October 22, 2006

Patrick MacKinnon said:

Naval Officer Ret\'s.
How do I make a contribution to the agency being set up to call politicans every hour about these exceptions
and their reasons?
March 31, 2007

FrostByte said:

...
Anyone got the home numbers for the MPs so we can call them in the middle of the night and ask them to put us on their do-not-call list?

:-P

By the way, if you hang up on them, they WILL call you back...
June 29, 2007

a guest said:

...
I'm being called by autodialers 14 times a day, since I left the [name removed, they're all alike] party in bad terms.

...straight on the day I quit, and then continually for a year leading up to now. I changed my phone number 2 times, put it on do not call list and not listed in in the phonebook, situation persists.

Which is why I gave up ENTIRELY on having a phone!

The multitude of exceptions allow people to be permanently harassed with very, very little effort to the abuser. As proof, a certain middle management person who did it to me had to quit his job at the Liberal party because of the multitude of autodiler calls he's receiving...

...serves him right for selling the contact info of every autodialer-triggerhappy company in Canada!

So following reading this very site, I added the prime minister and his cabinet (also did it for the provincial level for 4 provinces)... just to give them a hint... it seems they are on the REAL do-not-call list and won't share that benefit with us!

Call me cynical, it seems the politicians knew all along exactly what the problem they are perpetuating is... or actually, don't call me.

'cause I had to give up the phone!
June 03, 2008

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