The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. New research from Decima Research illustrates Canadians’ continued reluctance to support increased foreign ownership in Canadian communications companies. While some believe this public sentiment may present a challenge to proponents of greater foreign involvement in this country’s communications companies, the reality is that public opinion on this issue will likely have little impact on the outcome of the review. Firstly, proponents and opponents alike aren’t likely to use public opinion research as their first line of argument before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. The committee begins hearings on the issue next Monday, January 27. The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is wrapping up hearings this month. Those arguing for more relaxed rules will cite greater access to capital and a lower cost of capital, which will in turn spur competition into markets still largely controlled by the near monopolies of the incumbents. Opponents will certainly cite a loss of control of key markets by Canadian companies and corporate headquarters to the U.S., as well as the potential reduction of Canadian content on the airwaves. Both sides will talk primarily about the impact such a change will have on business models and future growth, not whether Canadians will or won’t accept greater foreign ownership of homegrown communications companies. There is little doubt that opponents will use the data to highlight Canadian public opinion. They will try to engage the committee members’ own feelings on the issue. But will the public zeitgeist become the centrepiece of their arguments? Not likely. Changing Canada’s foreign ownership limits in communications firms is likely only a matter of time whether Canadians support changes or not. As a result of World Trade Organization talks held in 1996, the govern-ment is required to bring in changes that liberalize the country’s telecom markets. Opponents may want a repeat of the spirited debate over the original free trade issue. Whether that happens remains to be seen. But the reality is Canadians didn’t understand free trade back then so it’s unlikely Canadians understand foreign ownership today.