Evidence of meeting #42 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 market.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Jean Brazeau  Vice-President, Telecommunications, Shaw Communications Inc.
  • Yves Mayrand  Vice-President, Corporate Affairs, COGECO Inc.
  • Kenneth Engelhart  Vice-President, Regulatory, Rogers Communications Inc.
  • Luc Lavoie  Executive Vice-President , Corporate Affairs, Quebecor Inc., Vidéotron Ltée
  • Ted Chislett  President and Chief Operating Officer, Primus Telecommunications Canada Inc.
  • Chris Peirce  Chief Regulatory Officer, MTS Allstream Inc.
  • Joe Parent  Vice-President, Marketing and Business Development, Vonage Canada Corp.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Brazeau.

3:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Telecommunications, Shaw Communications Inc.

Jean Brazeau

Our position, as we tried to elaborate it today, is that our big concern with winback—and Mr. Engelhart mentioned some timelines—is that these restrictions will be removed even before we enter certain markets. At a minimum, these rules should apply until we enter that market; then, whether additional time is required is certainly debatable—but at least until we enter the market, which will not be the case under this order.

February 7th, 2007 / 3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Engelhart, I'm interested in finding out whether or not winback rules even exist for the cable industry. I don't think I heard you clearly. We seemed to hear Mr. French suggesting yesterday that the cable industry had quite a presence and had a level playing field. Is this correct?

3:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Regulatory, Rogers Communications Inc.

Kenneth Engelhart

When satellite service was launched, the CRTC put a winback rule in place that stated that cable companies could not call our own customers for 90 days after satellite won them over, so it was exactly the same situation. We were not allowed, if they won one of our customers, to contact that customer for 90 days.

That rule continued for about four years for all customers and is still in place today for apartment buildings and condominiums. If Bell ExpressVu wins a customer from Rogers today in an apartment building, we cannot call them for 90 days.

It's sort of ironic that the very same Bell Canada that says these winback rules make no economic sense in the telephone market is a big proponent of them in the cable market.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Let me ask about quality-of-service regulations. Could you, and Mr. Brazeau as well, give me an example of some of the interconnection problems your company is facing? What communities are we talking about?

Again, the CRTC try to paint it that we had a great, wonderful competition across the country, and the bureau, of course, said we can add this whole new system of law and competition policy specific to this industry, now that we have forgotten about the competitive process.

3:50 p.m.

Vice-President, Telecommunications, Shaw Communications Inc.

Jean Brazeau

To give you an example, we are a facility-based carrier. This policy, or the government's direction, is certainly to promote facilities-based competition. But we need to interconnect those facilities to the incumbent's existing network. They really control the local network. I need to call them to interconnect my network; they do not call me. We've had some challenges to ensure that this interconnection happens on a timely and effective basis.

An example is Vancouver. It will take us probably a minimum of nine months to interconnect our local network with TELUS in Vancouver. The challenge we have is that we're interconnecting all of our network in a number of cities in Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Getting the incumbents focused on ensuring that this happens effectively is very challenging. You can certainly call the CRTC and ask them to intervene, but they're reluctant to—in their view—micromanage the process. You are left begging and sometimes yelling on the phone to try to get the incumbents motivated to complete the interconnection.

If we're not interconnected, then we can't provide our service and we're not seeing the competition we're supposed to be seeing. That is our big challenge.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you.

We'll go to Mr. Crête.

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First of all, I would like to thank you because it was your testimony, given last October, that prompted committee members to ask for a postponement, until March 2007, so that we could examine the situation. In December, the minister decided to circumvent our motion, but since that did not suit the committee, we passed a motion to do an exhaustive study on the whole issue of regulation.

Would you agree that the minister should wait for the results of our consultations, which will take place during the course of eight meetings, before deciding which instructions he will be issuing with respect to deregulation?

I'd like to have an answer from each of you. I see that there is strong opposition in three out of the four briefs.

Mr. Lavoie does not appear to be opposed, but I would like to hear his opinion on the relevance of conducting a study to ensure that the model we decide to use will be determined by an acceptable democratic process.

3:50 p.m.

Executive Vice-President , Corporate Affairs, Quebecor Inc., Vidéotron Ltée

Luc Lavoie

If I may, Mr. Crête, I would like to speak first.

I do not feel that I am in any position to determine whether or not the committee should undertake a study. You are the parliamentarians—

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

I would like to know whether the minister should wait for the results.

3:50 p.m.

Executive Vice-President , Corporate Affairs, Quebecor Inc., Vidéotron Ltée

Luc Lavoie

Or even if the minister should wait for the results. You have been elected and elected representatives are sovereign in this country. They are the ones who govern and I think that it is up to them to make this decision.

Our position with respect to this issue has not changed. We have already established a position in the market which we feel is strong enough to deal with competition and we will comply with the rules that will be set. I do not believe that I have read or heard anyone say that the minister broke the law.

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Lavoie, the first eight recommendations contained in the proposed strategic framework call for amendments to the legislation. We are not saying that the minister acted illegally, but that he exercised a right in a manner that has upset the apple cart.

I heard your opinion and I would like to hear from the others.

3:50 p.m.

Executive Vice-President , Corporate Affairs, Quebecor Inc., Vidéotron Ltée

Luc Lavoie

Obviously I am not going to be the one to say it. He did act in an unusual fashion, in that what he did is rarely done, but we can also see it as a sign of courage.

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

At any rate, the committee found that it was disrespectful.

3:55 p.m.

Executive Vice-President , Corporate Affairs, Quebecor Inc., Vidéotron Ltée

Luc Lavoie

This is a debate about values.