Senator Criticizes Rogers-Shaw Merger, Blames Competition Commissioner

colin deacon nova scotia

Independent Canadian senator Colin Deacon has criticized today’s approval of the Rogers-Shaw merger, saying that the conditions and penalties imposed on the deal would not be necessary if Canada’s Competition Act did not favour oligopolies.

He argues that the Competition Commissioner in Canada lacks the same powers as their counterparts in other G7 countries, which allows oligopolies to act with “conscious parallelism,” imitating a competitor’s actions.

“I take the Minister at his word, but also do not believe that $1 billion penalty, albeit precedent-setting in Canadian terms, will matter much to Rogers,” Deacon wrote on LinkedIn on Friday. “No oligopoly should be allowed to choose their competitor. Not ever.”

Deacon was referring to François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and his threat of monetary penalties on Videotron and Roger if conditions are not met as part of the deal.

“These agreements are subject to significant financial damages for non-compliance: up to $200 million in the case of Videotron and up to $1 billion in the case of Rogers,” said Champagne on Friday morning.

Deacon, who represents Nova Scotia, also highlighted the increased US roaming charges paid by Canadians since Wind (Freedom) Mobile was acquired by oligopolies. “I would absolutely love to see evidence of an increase US wholesale rates that justifies this 2 1/2 to 3-fold daily price hike,” said Deacon.

“We need much more Made-In-Canada competition… in every sector!” he said.

He further stated that increased competition from a fully independent wireless telco could have helped Canadians more than any government relief ever could. He urged or major changes to the Competition Act, which he believes would benefit marginalized Canadians more than empowered ones.

“Like all Canadians, I’m left to watch and see if the Minister’s conditions deliver ANY meaningful relief to average folks. I think increased competition from a fully independent wireless telco would have been able to help Canadians with their increased monthly food and other bills more than any government relief ever could,” said the senator.

“To this end, let’s all continue to push for robust changes to the Competition Act, especially because the public consultation ends today and decisions will begin to be made by ISED and the Minister,” concluded Deacon.

After today’s approval of the merger by the federal government, Rogers issued revised 2023 guidance to say total service revenues will now increase 26-30% thanks to its acquisition of Shaw.