Madam Speaker, I will begin by thanking my colleagues who have spoken in support of my bill.
It is humbling to see a piece of legislation with one's name on it move through the parliamentary process. It is also a reminder of why we were sent to the House of Commons and of our duty to represent the Canadians who put their trust in us.
I also thank our Conservative leader for appointing me as the shadow minister responsible for connectivity. Since I was first elected, I have strived to improve connectivity in Canada. I could have introduced legislation that scored political points and did not have a chance to pass, but I wanted to make a difference on the issue of connectivity.
When I began developing Bill C-288, I approached it from a non-partisan, pro-consumer point of view. I was privileged to work with industry experts, researchers, academics, advocacy groups and members from across the political spectrum to get where we are today, and here we are. In the coming days, Parliament will vote on Bill C-288, a truly non-partisan, pro-consumer bill.
Since Bill C-288 was introduced, a few things have come to light. One thing is an argument that the government’s proposed policy directive to the CRTC would address the content of my bill. I want to make two points on this argument. The first is that nowhere in the government’s policy directive are there details of what information Internet companies must provide consumers with. There is no mention of peak periods. There is no mention of typical speeds. There is no mention of public hearings.
The second is the notion that these important decisions should be left entirely to the CRTC, instead of being made by parliamentarians. Connectivity issues are too important to always be pushed into policy directives. Members of the House should make these decisions on behalf of the Canadians we represent and not leave everything up to the CRTC. Nowhere in the Telecommunications Act is there a public interest objective focused on ensuring that the economic and social interests of Canadians are at the centre of the system.
Bill C-288 strikes a balance between empowering parliamentarians and a regulatory body. While some may argue that this bill does not go far enough, I think it is an important step forward.
The other matter that has emerged since my bill was introduced is that the United States Federal Communications Commission announced that they will mandate a broadband service label. This was a direct result of the legislated Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It will ensure consumers have a better understanding of what Internet services they are paying for. This significant announcement reflects the content of Bill C-288.
A statement from the FCC commissioner, Geoffrey Starks, on this announcement read:
Instead of legalese, consumers will have clear, straightforward information about a provider’s service offerings....
He went on to state:
I fully expect that this transparency will increase competition and hopefully result in lower prices for consumers.
What a significant statement. Too many Canadians purchase Internet services at sky-high prices only to realize that the quality and speed they expected to receive are nowhere near what they actually receive.
As I have said, Canadians do not believe they are receiving the Internet service they are paying for. Connectivity is no longer a luxury. Connectivity is essential to the safety of our communities, to the economic growth of rural regions and to the accessibility of services like education and health care. Canadians should know what they are paying for before they purchase an Internet service, not after.
I encourage all parliamentarians to support Bill C-288.