Telecommunication workers across the country are deeply concerned with changes in the ownership rules of their industry. Over the past year, the federal government has changed rules to allow for greater foreign ownership of telecommunications companies.
The sell-off of important parts of national industries has deep consequences on many aspects of Canadians' lives. In the case of the telecommunications industry, allowing greater foreign ownership:
- Undermines Canadian culture by allowing further foreign control over Canadian programming and content;
- Poses a threat to national security by undermining Canada's privacy and access to information legislation;
- Decreases employment for Canadians by allowing foreign companies to transfer administrative, legal and regulatory functions to their existing corporate structure and reduce the number of jobs available in Canada.
Surveys have consistently demonstrated that Canadians oppose foreign ownership of the country's communications system.
Recent Changes and Developments
In June 2012, Stephen Harper's Conservative majority government included changes to the Canadian Telecommunications Act in its Budget Implementation Act, also known as omnibus Bill C-38.
The move allowed foreign-controlled corporations to buy telecommunication companies holding up to 10% of the Canadian market.
The 10% threshold opens the door to non-Canadian companies to buy up local players and then grow beyond the 10% barrier. Since Canada's trade treaties permit foreign-owned companies to challenge government limits applied inequitably to Canadian and non-Canadian companies, what will stop a foreign company that gets into the market from challenging the 10% barrier?
Canada needs a national strategy
There is no evidence that more foreign ownership will reduce consumer costs or improve service, yet it is a real threat to Canadian culture, national security and jobs. Rather than allowing foreign ownership of this key sector, we need legislation that addresses the real problem in Canadian communications: the excessive, deregulated market power of a handful of large companies.
Canada needs a national telecommunications strategy that lays out a long-term vision that advances the interest of both consumers and workers all the while protecting Canadian security and culture.
Own it! Selling off Canada's telecommunications!
The "Own it!" campaign points to the need for a national strategy to develop the telecommunications industry in Canada. Through this campaign, CEP workers and community members across the country can draw attention to the importance of Canadian ownership of large industries such as telecommunications, to serve the interest of all members of the Canadian public, not only those of large corporations.