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NDP skeptical about Liberal campaign telecom plans

Briefs | 08/28/2019 2:50 pm EDT

The NDP is already throwing cold water on reports that the Liberals are considering a price cap and mandated access for mobile virtual network operators as part of the incumbent party’s campaign plank.

In a Tuesday evening release from NDP Innovation critic Brian Masse — under the heading “Liberals will always side with big telecoms companies” — the Windsor West candidate pointed to the frequency of meetings between telecom lobbyists and the government. 

“Trudeau’s Liberal government met with well-connected lobbyists for the telecom industry 565 times since taking office, and gave Bell, Rogers and Telus close to $50 million in subsidies and more than $700 million in contracts,” Masse said in the release. 

A Tuesday report from Reuters quoted unnamed sources saying that the Liberals were considering introducing a telecom price cap as part of their upcoming election platform, or as a different option considering mandating mobile virtual network operator access to incumbent telecom infrastructure. 

In June, the NDP introduced its own affordable telecoms plan, which was voted down in the House of Commons. The plan, Masse pointed out in its Tuesday release, also included price caps and calls for the reinvestment of revenue derived from spectrum auctions.

Last week, Masse also reiterated his call for the use of spectrum auction revenue to fund an infrastructure roll out for parts of rural Canada underserved by current infrastructure builds. The MP was responding to the reaction of BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. that they would be pulling back from infrastructure investments in rural Canada following the CRTC’s new wholesale broadband rate regime.  

In Manitoba, Progressive Conservative Premier Brian Pallister placed the blame for Bell’s cutbacks at the feet of the CRTC.

“I am also disappointed when I hear the decision of Bell MTS, but that being said I am most disappointed with the decision of the CRTC, which has caused this consequence,” Pallister said at a campaign stop, as first quoted by the CBC. 

Clarification: An earlier version of this story reported that some of the cuts were due to take place in Manitoba, based on reporting by the CBC.  No such decision has been made, a Bell spokesperson clarified. 

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