The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) is promising to open the country’s telecommunications market to non-Canadian competitors if elected — but only if other countries return the favour.
“We need more players in the Canadian market to help improve wireless choice and affordability for consumers,” said Conservative party leader Erin O’Toole in a September 7th press conference. “But Canada currently bans foreign companies from competing here, leaving Canadians with limited choice and higher prices.”
O’Toole said that, if elected, the CPC would lift that ban and work with other countries to broker reciprocal deals that would allow foreign telecom companies offer cell phone and internet services in Canada, in exchange for Canadian telecom companies being mutually allowed to expand their operations into those other countries’ markets.
#LIVE: With Canada’s Recovery Plan, we have a plan to lower cell phone and Internet bills for Canadians#ENDIRECT: Grâce au Plan de rétablissement du Canada, les conservateurs vont réduire les factures de téléphone cellulaire et d’Internet des Canadiens https://t.co/2E6YH1aCn5
— Erin O'Toole (@erinotoole) September 7, 2021
The CPC leader further specified that the party is hoping to court companies located in Europe and the United States.
While the stated end goal is reducing consumer costs, the announcement takes explicit aim at the concentration within Canada’s telecom market maintained by Bell, Rogers and Telus.
For example, O’Toole promised to “stand up to corporate Canada and reject mergers that substantially reduce competition and lead to layoffs and higher prices.” This is likely a dig at Rogers’ attempted acquisition of Shaw Communications, which the Conservatives called for a house of commons committee investigation into on March 17th.
O’Toole also said that the CPC would “help lower prices by ensuring that local and regional players have access to the spectrum they need,” a potential reference to both another high-profile telecom legal battle, as Bell is currently taking Quebecor to court over internet spectrum purchases in Western Canada, as well as indie carrier TekSavvy’s ongoing campaign to reduce internet wholesale rates.