Getting connected

Every summer, I visit each community in my riding as part of my annual summer listening tour.

Citizens deserve to be heard, and meeting with people directly in their home communities is an important part of being a member of Parliament.

The feedback and concerns I hear are part of the focus for when the House of Commons resumes, typically in September.

This year, the House is not expected to resume given that the next federal election will be in October.

I am frequently reminded how far away the Ottawa bubble is when it comes to those who live in Canadian rural communities.

In several parts of my riding, there are no public transit options.

Where there was once Greyhound service in some areas, it now no longer exists.

Some areas have no access to natural gas for home heating.

There is also a lack of internet access in many areas and, in some cases, no wireless signal whatsoever.

For this reason, both the provincial and federal governments have promised to increase rural internet connectivity.

Despite these promises, as many rural residents without wireless service can confirm, little to no progress has been made.

Recently, with the fall election fast approaching, the Liberal government made yet another promise with regards to rural internet connectivity.

The Liberals announced a down-the-road program to pay $600 million over 10 years to what was described as an "Ottawa-based company" to launch low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites.

LEO satellites orbit at a height of roughly 1,000 kilometres, compared to conventional satellites that are typically orbit the earth at a range over 30,000 kilometres.

LEO satellites can provide much faster wireless connections to hard-to-reach, isolated locations.

LEO satellite technology is an emerging industry with several international private sector companies investing in new technology in a race to get LEO satellites launched.

This leads to my question for this week.

The Liberal government's track record on rural internet connectivity has not been stellar.

As the Auditor General concluded in a report from last year, the connectivity program did not get value for money.

The AG also determined that the Trudeau government was hindered by having no overall rural connectivity strategy.

This remains unchanged.

People in rural and remote communities deserve better than a program where under 15% of the promised funding for internet infrastructure to date, has been spent, as is the case under this Liberal government.

My question to you:

  • Should the next government prioritize having a comprehensive strategy to make sure rural and remote communities have internet connectivity?


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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

MP Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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