One of the headliners behind last week’s federal government cabinet shuffle was the shift of James Moore, formerly the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to Industry Canada. The Minister of Industry position holds the promise of having a significant impact on the Canadian economy, as the department is responsible for everything from competition policy to foreign investment reviews to telecommunications regulation.
Christian Paradis, now the former Industry minister, never seemed particularly interested or engaged in the portfolio. He disappeared on legislative initiatives (Moore assumed the lead over a copyright bill that was technically Paradis’ responsibility and his privacy bill never left the starting gate), allowed regulations to languish (the anti-spam regulations are years overdue), and failed to articulate an overarching vision for key sectors such as the digital economy.
While inaction might have few consequences in a smaller department, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the policy failures at Industry slowly began to accumulate and emerged as a mounting problem for the broader economy. Indeed, the Prime Minister’s Office appears to have assumed control over the telecom file earlier this year, emphasizing the need for greater competition and consumer rights in a series of moves designed to welcome foreign giants such as Verizon to Canada.
Moore undeniably brings better communications skills, more energy, and experience with several of the portfolio’s most contentious issues, generating great expectations for future actions. What might Canadians expect from Industry Minister Moore?
Read more ›
Appeared in the Toronto Star on July 20, 2013 as Will Cabinet Shuffle Help Put Canada’s Digital Economy Back on Track One of the headliners behind last week’s federal government cabinet shuffle was the shift of James Moore, formerly the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to Industry Canada. The Minister of […]
Read more ›
The 2013 Wall Communications Report on Canadian wireless and Internet pricing, produced annually for the CRTC and Industry Canada, was released yesterday. The study generated headlines on declining costs for wireless services, with Industry Minister Christian Paradis claiming that government policies were delivering lower prices for consumers. The key takeaway came from yet another shot across the telecom bow from the government:
Our plan is working: important progress has been made and Canadian families are seeing the benefits. The Harper Government will not let this progress be lost or undermined. We will continue. We will not hesitate to use any and every tool at our disposal to protect consumers and promote competition in every region of the country.
The continued focus on wireless competition will be needed since the Wall Communications report also found that Canada is middling at best relative to the other countries in the survey (US, UK, France, Australia, and Japan). In fact, Canada is described as being “on the high side” for virtually every key category, with only the U.S. faring consistently worse.
Read more ›
For the past few years, there has been a lively debate on the state of the Canadian wireless marketplace. Consumer advocates and others have argued that Canadian market is not sufficiently competitive and that aggressive policy action is needed to foster greater competition and to adequately protect consumers until market forces can be fully relied upon. The incumbent telecom companies and the CWTA present a far different story, contesting multiple international studies and painting Canada as a market leader.
The events of this week – the introduction of a CRTC consumer wireless code and the Industry Canada decision to uphold its set-aside spectrum policy by killing the Telus – Mobilicity deal – point to the fact that this debate is now over in the minds of the government. Government telecom policy in 2006 was focused on deregulation and a hands-off, industry-led approach. Those days are long gone as the government has now adopted a consumer-focused, populist approach premised on the view that a public fight with the telecom companies is a political winner. Moreover, the government may have shifted, but the incumbent providers clearly have not, failing to adapt to the new policy terrain.
Read more ›
Industry Minister Christian Paradis surprised some analysts this morning by announcing that the government would not approve Telus plans to purchase Mobilicity. The decision is entirely defensible. The government established clear rules on transfers of spectrum that was set-aside in 2008 that prohibited transfer to incumbents within the first five […]
Read more ›