Evidence of meeting #41 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was crtc.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Richard French  Vice-Chair, Telecommunications, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
  • Sheridan Scott  Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

5:15 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

These are very hard issues that we grapple with. There's no doubt that it is more expensive to serve people who live in rural areas. Generally speaking, we would support prices that are based on cost. There are other tools that the government can use if they want to redress some of those inequities. That being said—

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

But would their costs be to the individual service, or would there be the same costs for all Canadians, for similar services?

5:15 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

I'm saying there are different costs to providing different services, and the price that is charged for a service should reflect the cost of providing that service.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

So rural Canadians would pay more.

5:15 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

They might in some circumstances, depending. What's very interesting about the evolution of telecommunications, and I think quite exciting from a competition perspective, is that there are new services being developed, such as applications that are actually independent of infrastructure. They can be used in the context of a single telephone provider if they're providing high-speed access. You can use an application that you can attach and get your telephone service that way. It's an infrastructure-independent type of competition.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

We haven't seen that. We don't see that.

5:15 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

It's early days of that, for sure. If you look at the penetration of Vonage, which is the name of one of these companies, you're going to be seeing that more and more in the marketplace, I think.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you, Monsieur Thibault.

We'll go to Mr. Van Kesteren, for five minutes.

February 5th, 2007 / 5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

I thank you both for coming.

It was asked at the last session, and I just want to clear the record, but I'll fashion the question somewhat differently. Some have suggested that the minister's policy direction was illegal. I would like to ask about the policy direction of the report on Bill C-41, with the forbearance. Was it prudent? Did the minister act prudently in moving in this direction?

5:15 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

As I understand the package that's before the House right now, it's a package that is moving in a direction that would favour market forces, and it deals with various aspects of that. I'm not sure what you mean by “prudent”.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

First of all, did he act illegally? Did he break any rules?

5:15 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

My understanding of the questions that have been asked on this to date is whether the policy direction would amount to being a breach of the Telecommunications Act.

We're not responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Telecommunications Act, so I'd really not be able to provide you with any expert advice on that. I think you heard from Mr. French that he thinks they probably do line up.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

About “prudence”, was it the right direction? Is this the direction we should have taken?

5:15 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

We're very supportive of an increased reliance on market forces in the telecommunications sector. This is a sector that is undergoing a huge change. It's a very dynamic sector. By relying on market forces, you have innovations like the development of an application to provide telephone service as opposed to the necessity of building a very costly communications infrastructure. We think the sooner one can benefit from that sort of dynamic that you get in the marketplace, the better, but with an appropriate consideration of where you have to protect social objectives, which is not something we would address through the Competition Act.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

If I'm understanding what you're saying, this is a good policy and all parties should look at this and support this policy.