Almost two weeks ago Bell CEO George Cope wrote an open letter to Canadians in the Toronto Star to warn Canadians about the threat of Verizon coming to this country. The CEO attempted to make clear to Canadians the “critical situation” set to impact our wireless industry, as Verizon would get unfair advantages compared to incumbents. He also spoke about the storied history of Bell Canada, which was “established shortly after Confederation in 1880.” Just recently, a new Bell ad appeared which denoted ‘concerns’ over Verizon were ‘growing and growing.’
Canadian Ben Klass, a graduate student from the University of Manitoba, has taken the time to formulate a reply to Mr. Cope and has done so with a bit more clarification on the history involved, responding to the letter with even more details than we could have imagined:
You must, however, be aware that Bell’s permission to operate in Canada was initially obtained by agents acting in the interest of the (American) National Bell Telephone Company and that, after securing a favourable charter, three top-level executives from National Bell were appointed to Bell Canada’s board of directors (Babe, 1990, pg 68-69). Or how about how American Bell initially owned 50% of your company, only fully divesting its interest 43 years ago, in 1970 (Winseck, 1998, pg 119)?
Bell began its life in Canada as a branch plant of an American company; in a strange twist of fate, it’s now a descendant of National Bell Telephone – Verizon – which is contemplating (re)entering the Canadian market. And they leveraged this relationship to get an early leg up on the competition – using patents owned by its American parent, Bell quickly monopolized the market for Canadian telephone services, a monopoly it used to funnel profits back to the States. (Smythe, 1981, pg 141)
Essentially, Klass’ surgically breaks down contradictions within the letter and provides his arguments against the three ‘loopholes’ Bell wants closed. Definitely worth the read–check it out here.