Although the House of Commons does not resume sitting until next week, all-party Parliamentary committees are currently sitting and reviewing essential subjects of national interest.
One of the Parliamentary committees sitting this week is INDU (the Committee on Industry and Technology), which is currently reviewing the proposed takeover of Shaw Communications by Rogers Communications.
This proposed deal has faced several obstacles, including being opposed by Canada’s Competition Bureau, which recently went to Federal Court to block the deal. The Federal Court ruled against the Competition Bureau, leaving the final decision to approve or reject this proposed deal to Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, who is the MP for Saint-Maurice—Champlain in Quebec.
Aside from the Competition Bureau’s opposition to the proposed deal, an initial study by the INDU Committee resulted in four recommendations, one being the committee believes the merger should not proceed. The primary concern of many opponents to the proposed deal is it could result in even less competition in an industry that already has very little competition for the benefit of Canadian consumers.
Canadians pay some of the highest cell phone bills in the world. In fact, during the 2019 election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that his Liberal government would reduce cell phone bills by 25% within two years, saving the average Canadian family $1,000 a year.
On Feb. 9, 2022, in the House of Commons, he stated, “We promised Canadian families that we would reduce the cost of their cell phone bill. Today, I am happy to announce that we have met our 25% price reduction target. In fact, we have done so three months ahead of schedule.”
In my Feb. 23, 2022 column, I asked whether your wireless cell phone bills had decreased by 25%, as the prime minister claimed. The response was overwhelming, and almost every reply I received indicated they had not.
Many individuals even shared their wireless bills, which provided a well-documented cost increase. Several also noted wireless plans had changed so that they now paid separately for the plan and the phone, instead of being combined, as was the case previously. In every example I received, people were paying more overall.
Recently, Michael Geist, one of Canada’s foremost law professors who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, wrote on the proposed Roger-Shaw deal and the upcoming political decision that Champagne must make to approve or reject this takeover.
“Minister Champagne and the government can choose to stand up for Canadian consumers and say this deal doesn’t go ahead on their watch,” said Geist. “ Or they can stand with big telecom companies and choose to make matters even worse. It’s Champagne’s choice.”
I have two questions for you this week:
How concerned are you over the size of your monthly wireless bill? If you were the minister, what would you do?
I can be reached at [email protected]gc.ca or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.