Evidence of meeting #65 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was spectrum.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Mirko Bibic  Executive Vice-President, Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer, BCE Inc. and Bell Canada
  • David Coles  President, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada
  • Gary Wong  Director, Legal Affairs, Data and Audio-Visual Enterprises Wireless Inc., Mobilicity
  • Bruce Kirby  Vice-President, Strategy and Business Development, Public Mobile
  • Simon Lockie  Chief Regulatory Officer, Wind Mobile
  • Len Zedel  Memorial University of Newfoundland, As an Individual
  • Bob Kingston  National President, Agriculture Union
  • Philippe Bergevin  Senior Policy Analyst, C.D. Howe Institute
  • David Skinner  President, Consumer Health Products Canada
  • Matthew Holmes  Executive Director, Canada Organic Trade Association
  • Richard Wright  Manager, Exploration, Oil and Gas, Nalcor Energy
  • Richard Steiner  Professor, University of Alaska, Conservation and Sustainability Consultant, Oasis Earth Project, As an Individual
  • Erin Weir  Economist, United Steelworkers

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Why not? What happens in that case?

7:30 p.m.

President, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

David Coles

They move head offices and R and D to the.... If it's Carlos Slim's, it moves to Mexico. Why wouldn't it?

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Also, you said:

The Mulroney government produced a comprehensive telecommunications policy document that argued: “domestic ownership of Canada's telecommunications infrastructure is essential to national sovereignty and security.”

Can you maybe expand on that?

7:35 p.m.

President, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

David Coles

It was their report, not ours, and I think it has a lot of merit, that you would consider a country giving up its right to own its telecommunications system.

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

One of the concerns we also have—and I think we spoke about rural areas—is that there's a lack of access to high-speed Internet service for aboriginal reserves or first nations. Can you comment on that?

7:35 p.m.

President, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

David Coles

It is about having, either as required by law or through incentive, access to places where historically there has not been good service. In Saskatchewan, and in Alberta under AGT, they were required, before they became federally certified, to supply services to rural communities. I think that kind of requirement needs to be in place now, especially if they're looking at opening it up to foreign competition.

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you.

Very briefly, Mr. Lockie, go ahead, please.

7:35 p.m.

Chief Regulatory Officer, Wind Mobile

Simon Lockie

Thank you.

Very briefly, Bell, Rogers, and Telus are enormously profitable companies, and they act in their shareholders' best interests and they do a good job of it. Foreign shareholders have exactly the same objective as domestic shareholders.

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you.

We'll go to Ms. Glover please.

May 30th, 2012 / 7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Welcome, witnesses.

I'm going to try to correct the record as we go along here. Let me start by saying I believe that Mr. Bibic and I met the first time in 2008-09 when we were discussing this very same thing. I met with Telus and Rogers as well. When I first met Mr. Simms on the heritage committee, we were talking about the potential of this happening. I say that just to reiterate what Mr. Van Kesteren is pointing out. This is not a new discussion. This has been studied and studied. I've only been here since 2008.

I appreciate Madam LeBlanc taking part in the finance committee. She wasn't here in 2008, nor was she here in 2003. This is not a new issue. So let's get that straight right off the bat.

Mr. Coles, it doesn't wash when you say we ought to remove this. This has been studied forever.

In fact, the budget was released in March. We're now two months into studying the BIA. It's unheard of to have a private business study something for years and then to have the decision and then to study the decision for months before actually proceeding. So I'm sorry, but that just doesn't wash with us or with Canadians. Let's move on from there and talk about how we've actually effected some benefits for Canadians.

Again, Mr. Coles, you said there's no evidence to suggest that Canadians pay less as a result of the decisions made by the government, and that's who we represent: Canadians. We represent Canadians, and I love to see this competition, because I think it's great for Canadians. The proof is in the pudding. The proof is that there's 10% less being spent by Canadian consumers thanks to what was done by this government in 2008. And that has been studied. There is proof. We have the documents. So competition has proven to be very good for Canadians.

In my five minutes I did want to correct some of those things that were said.

I also have to correct Monsieur Caron, because in fact the rural and remote access was not the only thing that Minister Paradis mentioned. There were three objectives that the government had in moving forward with this. He's mentioned only one, and that was the availability of advanced services for all Canadians, including those in rural areas, in a timely manner. That was one of the objectives. Let me tell you that 98% of Canadians now have access to high-speed wireless services since we made these decisions to open up competition. So 98% is a great number. Again, this is all documented; all proof is available.

The other two objectives that have to be put on the record are that we also expect to have sustained competition in wireless telecommunications services and a robust investment and innovation in this sector. Again, I have to correct these things, because I don't want Canadians watching to be misled by half-explained measures, etc. I want them to get a really good picture.

Now there is one issue that has not been discussed. I know there will be some more questions coming from you later, but I am very interested in your positions on something else that's in this measure. That is the spectrum for public safety. I would like each of you to tell me very quickly whether you think that's the right measure. Do you think we're doing the right thing for Canadians by providing more spectrum to public safety?

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Mr. Bibic.

7:40 p.m.

Executive Vice-President, Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer, BCE Inc. and Bell Canada

Mirko Bibic

I think the private sector should be tasked with delivering to public safety the networks they need rather than setting aside specific spectrum for public safety only. That should at least be considered.

7:40 p.m.

Vice-President, Strategy and Business Development, Public Mobile

Bruce Kirby

Yes, we support putting aside spectrum for public safety. I think there are still issues around how it's going to get deployed in an efficient and effective way, but certainly the notion of having the spectrum there to enable that support is something we support.

7:40 p.m.

Director, Legal Affairs, Data and Audio-Visual Enterprises Wireless Inc., Mobilicity

Gary Wong

It appears to be a good objective. How is public safety going to be using the spectrum? That's really the bigger question.

7:40 p.m.

President, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

David Coles

To your point, though, Madam, it is in the rules. I don't see the rules in the budget. You say there have been four months of discussion, but we would—