Ottawa: ‘Fair for Canada’ Campaign was Motivated by Fear of Verizon

Speaking with the Globe and Mail, Industry Minister James Moore stepped up Ottawa’s ongoing battle with incumbent carriers, saying their “Fair for Canada” campaign was motivated entirely by fear of Verizon as competition, rather than a campaign to stand up for Canadians.

Rogers, TELUS and Bell argued Ottawa’s wireless policies were ‘unfair’ and contained ‘loopholes’ for foreign competitors such as Verizon, plus also cited how massive job losses would ensue if the US carrier came to town.

As for the current status of the “Fair for Canada” campaign? Minister Moore says it has fallen quiet now after Verizon confirmed it was no longer interested in Canada:

“So for them [the Big Three] it was not about being fair for Canada. It was about trying to stir up concern about Verizon possibly coming into the Canadian marketplace,” he said Wednesday.

Moore was pressed by reporters if he has chosen this fight with the Big 3, but he denied the idea, saying he has “fine” relationships with incumbents and they “get along fine,” citing he had dinner recently with Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed and soon will have lunch with Telus CEO Darren Entwistle in Vancouver.

After criticizing the government all summer, some carriers fear Ottawa might become a larger telecommunications regulator, something echoed by John Gossling, chief financial officer for Telus:

“I think regulatory is always at the top of our risk list. It is just something that we can’t control obviously, and sure, there is heightened attention right now,”

“And I think with the bidding deadline now passed, hopefully that gives a bit of, you know, time to clear the air and things will settle between now and the auction, I think. We’d like to have a constructive discussion with Ottawa on this and I think there are lots of attempts to do that.”

Rogers has tried to distance itself from the “Fair for Canada” message, despite contributing to the campaign; Nadir downplayed any possibility of blowback from targeting Ottawa and its policies:

“It’s been like watching a bit of a soap opera,” deputy chairman Edward Rogers told conference delegates. “Rogers has tried to be not as engaged in the dramatics of it and tried, as best we can, [to] offer more of a practical alternative for government, for industry.”

BCE’s chief financial officer, Siim Vanaselja denied the company’s recent slashing of US roaming charges by 50% was a move to ward off potential regulation of the industry:

“Our intention would be to continue negotiations with the global carriers that we deal with in our reciprocal roaming arrangements … and be able to offer our customers improved roaming rates because we know that the one area where customers are truly dissatisfied with pricing is on roaming.”

Wind Mobile CEO Anthony Lacavera was quoted earlier this week as saying the Big Three acted like “raving lunatics” with their “aggressive” summer multi-million dollar “Fair for Canada” campaign, as it only angered consumers.

Lacavera believes positive outcomes will follow with potential CRTC regulation of the industry; the company earlier declared its intentions to participate and bid in the upcoming 700MHz wireless spectrum auction:

“We’re actually feeling quite bullish about the go-forward and including possibly the CRTC regulating elements of the industry, specifically roaming and tower sharing, which would be very significant for us,”

As for foreign carriers jumping into the spectrum auction mix? Don’t count on it, according to Jeff Fan, a telecommunications analyst with Scotia Capital, says none of the major four U.S. carriers have decided to participate in the 700MHz auction.

What do you think has been the outcome of the Big 3’s “Fair for Canada” campaign?

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • Tim

    While I’m not a huge fan of Stephen Harper, it is refreshing to see that his ministers are not in the back pockets of the Canadian wireless industry.

  • rob0302

    This gov’t involvement appears to have made things worse for us consumers. My 3 year contract with Rogers ends Oct. 5th. I pay $56/month for – 300 anytime minutes, unlimited incoming calls, free nights & weekends, VM, Call Display, 2500 outgoing text/unlimited incoming, and 6 Gigs of data. I’m still using my iphone 4 which i got subsidized through Rogers 3 years ago. Now i’m eligible for the upgrade to the 5S, but they won’t let me… When I spoke to “Loyalty” dept. she informed me that if I want to keep my current plan, I am not eligible for the subsidized upgrade since to be eligible I have to be in a minimum $70 plan. I told her that I would gladly sign on for another 2 years, but wanted to keep my current plan. She said “Sorry, now that contract terms are 2 year max., we have to make up the subsidy over 24 months instead of 36, so we can not give you the new iPhone at the subsidized price.” To change plans to one that is comparable to my current plan, I would be paying $120/month (this plan comes with unlimited talk & text as opposed to my 300 mins and unlimited incoming). This is utter BU!!$#!T!!!!!!!

  • Erik Kappel

    And you blame the government for this? Your anger is aimed in the wrong direction. You’re being led to believe that 2 year contracts are the source of all evil, when in reality, your telco is using this misguided blame to either get more money out of you, or get you mad about a restriction that THEY are unhappy with. You’re being played.

  • rob0302

    I’m not blaming the gov’t, i’m making a point that their law regarding restriction of contract lengths has actually impacted the consumer negatively. I’m very happy with my current plan and service with Rogers, so I would have no issue with resigning for 3 more years under my current plan, with the subsidized iPhone 5S upgrade. However, since 2 years is now the max, Rogers has changed their rules regarding who’s eligible. In the end I totally agree that the Telco’s are the ones ripping us off.
    My current plan is $56/month, the equivalent new plan would be $120/month, that’s $64/month more. The subsidy on the phone works out to about $500. Therefore, if I keep my current plan and go buy the new phone outright for approx. $1,000, I would pay off the difference in 9-10 months. This means Rogers would actually be making an additional $840 off of me over a 24 month period.
    In the end, we get screwed by everyone!!!!

  • RaphaelNinjaTurtle

    If anyone believes this Rogers,Bell & Telus propaganda you’re dumb

  • 1His_Nibs1

    John Gossling quote: “And I think with the bidding deadline now passed, hopefully that gives a bit of, you know, time to clear the air”. In other words hopefully Canadians will forget all about this negative ad campaign against Verizon and we can go back to the way things were and screw them over without having to worry about REAL competition.

    Siim Vanaselja quote: “Our intention would be to continue negotiations with the global carriers that we deal with in our reciprocal roaming arrangements … and be able to offer our customers improved roaming rates because we know that the one area where customers are truly dissatisfied with pricing is on roaming.” WRONG. I think there’s a very small percentage of people who need international roaming or consider lower pricing on international roaming essential. Especially when there are other options out there. One of them being, having your phone unlocked and buying a sim card from a carrier in any number of foreign countries. That’s a helluva lot cheaper than roaming with a carrier locked phone. Perhaps a greater number of Canadians would like to see better pricing of North America roaming but that wasn’t mentioned specifically here. I believe way more people want to see better pricing on data usage as that has become the pig 3’s new cash cow and with the prevalence of smartphones a lot of people (especially the younger generation) are using them as mini portable computers now.

  • shaqrad

    I am not going to comment on whether whos to blame for the increase. I just want to say that I am in the same situation as you (plan ending in Dec, iphone4, etc). I am with currently with Telus. I am going to add the difference of the $70 min. to my current plan. So I can keep it. For me it is $5 plus tax increase per month. You would be like $15 a month from the details you said.

    I would suggest doing the math and seeing what is cheaper over the next two years. $15x24mths = $360 + the subsidized handset cost or buying the handset out right keeping your current plan.
    Also, keep in mind that you could trade in your old device or sell it on kijiji and make some money back.

  • shaqrad

    I just wanted to make it clear that you just add a extra voice mail or nationwide LD or US calling, etc. Some small feature that would be approx $15. Just to get you over the min. of $70. That’s what I’m going to do. good luck!

  • rob0302

    Shaq, if the difference was only $15, then i’d agree, for sure it’s worth it to pay the extra monthly cost in order to get the subsidy. However, in my situation, the cheapest talk/data plan with rogers is $85, so this is an increase of $30/month from my current bill, and that’s the cheapest plan available. The closest equivalent to my current plan is the $105/month 3 gig plan (comes with a bonus of 3 extra gigs if you sign up now). So basically, my bill would be going up $50/month to keep pretty much the same plan I have now.. The subsidy works out to approx $500 for the 64 gig iPhone 5S, so like i said above, it’s not worth it to switch plans since i’d pay off the difference in 10 months and be contractless.

  • shaqrad

    Not sure if you seen my follow up message. Hopefully things work out bud

  • rob0302

    Oh sorry I didnt get what you were saying initially.. I had it in my head that i had to change plans completely to one of their currently offered plans. I gotta definitely call them and see if i add some $15 feature to my current plan if i’m able to do it..
    Thanks for the idea..

  • rob0302

    It worked.. I added a $5 international text plan to my current plan and now they said i’m able to keep my current plan and get the subsidized 5S upgrade.. Thanks again man..

  • shaqrad

    no problem. glad I could help. I have a question though. Was the $70 before or after taxes/fees? you had said your bill was $56 before and then you said you just had to add in $5 int. texting to get the subsidized price.

  • rob0302

    Yeah online and when i spoke to someone at Rogers the other day they said that the subsidy required a minimum $70 plan. when i spoke to the guy this morning he said it was on $70 minimum for new plans, but $60 on existing plans. And this is pre-tax..Actually the 50 international text package was $7, so my plan is now $63 pre-tax.