Why Federal Minister Navdeep Bains Has a ‘Failing Wireless Strategy’: Geist

University of Ottawa Law Professor, Dr. Michael Geist, has shared his thoughts on why Navdeep Bains, the Minister in charge of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), has failed Canadians with his wireless strategy.

Geist calls out Bains for his repeated, go-to line, that every wireless change under his watch by telecoms has been “a step in the right direction.”

Examples include when Bell announced Lucky Mobile; Shaw debuted lower cost mobile plans; when the CRTC tossed out the idea of mandated MVNOs; and when the CRTC deployed lower-cost, data-only plans from the Big 3, Bains said the same “a step in the right direction,” every single time.

Geist also points out CRTC Ian Scott is not exactly consumer friendly (he’s a former telecom executive), while Canadians continue to pay some of the highest wireless prices in the world:

Yet the blame is not Scott’s alone. Navdeep Bains, the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister, is ultimately responsible for the wireless file. The previous Conservative government may not have solved the wireless competition problem, but no one doubted that it prioritized affordability and was unafraid to challenge the major telecom companies along the way. Bains, on the other hand, responded with what has become the “thoughts and prayers” version of Canadian wireless, implausibly claiming that the decision was “a step in the right direction.” That has become the go-to response for Bains on wireless developments that do little to address the systemic problems with high Canadian wireless prices.

Geist continues to write, “If the basic test for a government minister is to leave the situation better than they found it, Bains’ wireless strategy to date is a failure. Canadians still pay among the highest prices in the world and now face an industry-captured regulator that has demonstrated little regard for consumer concerns. Steps in the right direction are leading nowhere.”

With consumer groups such as the PIAC on the verge of disappearing due to CRTC policy, things aren’t looking too bright for Canadian wireless consumers. Low-cost, data-only plans at prices like $25 for 500 MB have been ridiculed by Canadians, but feedback has apparently fallen on deaf ears with the CRTC.

Below is some Twitter commentary from Josh Tabish of non-profit Open Media, responding to telecom consultant Mark Goldberg, who declared the state of mobile in Canada has improved since Bains took over in 2015.

Dwanye Winseck, Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University, in Ottawa, replied to Goldberg basically telling him to look at the facts:

Click here to read Geist’s commentary on why Minister Bains has failed Canadians with his wireless strategy.

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