Madam Speaker, this is another initiative that my New Democratic friends decided to vote against. In our very first budget in 2016, $500 million were committed to expanding Internet access. It was supposed to be completed by 2021. The NDP voted against that. Those dollars are connecting well over 500 communities in all areas of Canada, yet they voted against that initiative.
On the one hand, the New Democrats say they want to reduce it by $10 whereas in many areas our government reduced it by $60 for thousands of families. They talk about wanting to see more expansion into rural communities, yet they voted against a budget that would allow that expansion to take place.
I would challenge my New Democratic friends to review some of their comments on the record, even the member who spoke just before me.
In response to a question, the member said that providers did nothing for indigenous communities. A few months ago Bell Let’s Talk donated $100,000 to the Bear Clan in the north end of Winnipeg. For those who are not familiar with the Bear Clan, it is a fantastic organization that has developed into an extended family. It gets residents in the north end of Winnipeg off the streets, residents who are some of the most challenging, some who are addicted to crack. The Bear Clan gets these individuals engaged so they can become part of a broader family. Bell Let's Talk recognized the value of this organization.
The Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre is an outstanding organization, a world-class organization, that reaches into not only the community of north Winnipeg, but into many different areas. It is is making a real difference in our indigenous community and beyond. Substantial dollars flowed to that organization.
The NDP is so preoccupied in trying to come across as the champions of some cause that it will throw anything and everyone under the bus.
I would agree that there are things the government can and should do to ensure there is healthy competition, that we do what we can to ensure, through that competition, we have reasonable cell and Internet access in Canada. That is critically important.
We need to recognize that Canadian wireless subscribers today enjoy the fastest average mobile download connection fees among all G7 countries, plus Australia, with twice the average download speed of the United States. This is the state of mobile network experience based on May 2019. Canadian wireless networks are now the second fastest in the world, 152% faster than the global average.
I am not here to defend the providers as much as I am to challenge the NDP to recognize that not all providers are bad people.
I cannot recall if I met with the organizations. I suspect the NDP might want to do a freedom of information request just to find out how many times I might have. In the last number of years, I might have met once or twice for a five or 10 minute exchange. I do not have lobbyists breaking down my door. Who own these companies? Chances are they are union members and pensioners. These are larger corporations.
I made reference to Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata. Unifor teamed up with Bell on one occasion to provide over $100,000, recognizing it could work with providers.
We could have debated many things today. I am surprised the NDP chose this topic. I would have thought the New Democrats might have wanted to talk about the national pharmacare program. In the last couple of years, they have finally come on board, raising that issue after we put things in place that could lead to a national pharmacare program.
If the NDP members were true to their colours and were social democrats who were trying to see social improvement on a bigger scale, I would have thought that would have been more important. After all, this is their last opposition day between now and the next election. Instead, they have taken a consumer idea on cellphones. After all, we all have cellular telephones, so no doubt it is very popular to say let us reduce cellphone rates. This government has done that for thousands of people, far more than what the New Democrats are suggesting today. We did that a couple of years ago.