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Singh vows to ‘stand up to the rich telecommunication companies’

Briefs | 03/22/2019 4:47 pm EDT
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks with the media after cabinet meetings on June 13, 2018. / Photo by Andrew Meade.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is putting cell phone and internet affordability on the political agenda as an early issue ahead of the October vote, attacking incumbent telecom companies for profiting from steep prices and trying to paint the Liberal government as being too close with them.

“Canadians are paying skyrocketing prices while telecom companies make billions in profits. Once again, Justin Trudeau is showing who’s side he’s on, and it’s not yours,” Singh said in a Friday press release.  

“Canadians deserve a government who has the courage to stand up to the rich telecommunication companies and to use every tool available to make life more affordable for people.”

The release said the Liberals have left market forces and competition to determine telecom prices, and claims BCE Inc., Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp. have collectively had “more than 500 meetings with the Liberal government” and received hundreds of millions in federal contracts and “subsidies.”

The NDP also invited Canadians to visit a party website page — www.ndp.ca/lower-my-bill — to share stories about unaffordable subscription fees and billing horror stories.

That page asks for the potential voters’ names, emails, phone numbers and postal codes.

“Massive roaming fees? Data overages bringing you down? Family plan still too much for your family? We all have nightmare stories when it comes to our cell phone and internet bills,” the website says. “What’s yours?”

It comes just a few days after the Liberal government’s election-year budget pledged $1.7 billion in rural broadband funding and set targets for what it has characterized as an ambitious new commitment to close the gap between rural and urban internet connection speeds by 2030.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau pledged Tuesday as much as $6 billion will be made in public and private investments into developing rural broadband over the next decade.

“We will be absolutely at the forefront of having high-speed internet across this vast country for every Canadian,” Morneau said Tuesday at a press conference. “We think it’s critically important, it’s hard work, a lot of progress is going to be made in the very near term but we’re going to take it to the end.”

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