Vertical integration, We need rules PIAC says

“Canada’s telecommunications regulator needs to set rules to prevent possible “cartel-like behaviour” from telecommunications companies such as Bell and Rogers that also own content such as TV shows that competitors would like to be able to offer online, said Chris Peirce, chief corporate officer for MTS Allstream,” CBC News reported from Canadian Telecom Summit.
“John Lawford, counsel for the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, which speaks on behalf of consumers, said he thinks that is a potential problem. “We need rules so that people don’t get locked into services they may not really want … or that impede competition,” he said.
“Lawford added that he doesn’t think someone should have to maintain wireless service with a certain provider just to get mobile access to hockey games. “That’s not a fair situation. It certainly doesn’t help competition,” CBC’s Emily Chung reported on June 1, 2011.

Reserve spectrum for new competition

“On the eve of its one-year anniversary in the Toronto market, Public Mobile fired a shot across the bow at Canada’s big three wireless incumbents, imploring the federal government to once again set aside chunks of spectrum exclusively for upstart new players in the next spectrum auction,” Christine Wong wrote for IT Business on May 26.
“Reserving spectrum for fresh players is necessary to prevent the big three from enjoying an “oligopoly,” said Michael Janigan, executive director and general counsel at the consumer research group Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Ottawa. “We think the solution is to ensure that spectrum is set aside for new entrants and competitors in the market so they are able to offer wireless service at competitive rates, as well as experiment with other kinds of offerings that might not be appealing to the incumbents,” IT Business quoted Janigan.

Option consommateurs, Canada Consumer Product Safety Act comes into force

On June 20, 2011 the federal government announced the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, passed in December, is now in effect. “We are pleased the government now finally has the power to remove dangerous products from the store shelves,” said Anu Bose, head of the Ottawa office of Option consommateurs.
Option consommateurs, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Safe Kids Canada, Environmental Defence and others worked diligently to build all-party support for the legislation.
Bose said the mandatory recall provision was a long time coming. She noted injuries by consumer products lead 14.000 kids a year make emergency room visits. Key elements of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act

Québec s’attaque au sur endettement

« Fini les grands magasins qui offrent des petits cadeaux pour encourager les consommateurs à demander une carte de crédit. Fini les émetteurs qui fournissent des cartes à des jeunes de moins de 18 ans sans l’autorisation de leurs parents. Fini aussi les prêteurs de dernier recours qui accordent du crédit à des consommateurs criblés de dettes » Stéphanie Grammond a rapporté pour la Presse le 9 juin 2011.
« Québec s’attaque au surendettement des consommateurs avec le projet de loi 24 déposé, hier, à l’Assemblée nationale. Il s’agit de la troisième et dernière phase du plan de modernisation de la Loi sur la protection du consommateur (LPC) qui avait été lancé en 2006. «Le principe du prêteur responsable est une des belles avancées. Ça intègre dans notre loi des principes qui existent déjà en Europe», a dit Stéphanie Poulin, directrice du service juridique d’Option consommateurs, qui est très satisfaite de l’ensemble du projet de loi déposé » La Presse a rapporté.

Payez vos factures, Le consommateur doit s’informer

Stéphanie Grammond de la Presse a rapporté le 07 juin: « Recevoir un état de compte, ce n’est pas un droit, c’est un privilège. Le consommateur doit s’informer de la somme qu’il doit et s’organiser pour payer quand même», indique Élise Thériault, d’Option consommateurs.
Seule exception: les cartes et les marges de crédit. La Loi sur la protection du consommateur précise qu’une institution financière n’a pas le droit d’exiger des intérêts sur les achats du mois courant, tant que le consommateur n’a pas reçu son relevé de compte à la maison, précise Me Thériault » La Presse a rapporté le 7 juin.

CRTC’s definition of Internet access clouds connectivity statistics, critics say

“The CRTC is blurring the true levels of broadband usage across the country with its definition and measurement of broadband Internet “access,” critics say.  … Statistics Canada’s Internet use survey for 2010 said  just 79 per cent of households “access” the Internet. According to Statistics Canada, “access” means a household has an Internet connection,” Stefan Dubowski wrote for the Wire Report on June 10, 2011.
“But according to the CRTC, “access” means that a household has a broadband service available to it, regardless of whether it has a connection. … John Lawford, research analyst and lawyer with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), (said) that actual usage is more important than potential usage. “I’d like it to be people actually able to put Google on their screens,” The Wire Report quoted Lawford.

Foreign ownership and the public interest

“The Roil report (on Vale Inco in Voisey’s Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador) shows how multi-national corporations are gaining in size and power, here in Canada and around the world. But it also shows how we are far from powerless to deal with them. Multinational corporations (MNCs) operate differently in different nations, depending on the norms, rules and expectations of the host nation,” PIAC board member Armine Yalnizyan wrote for Straight Goods on May 24.
“Pause for a moment on the term “host”. These companies are our guests. They are invited in, under certain terms and conditions. We have what the rest of the world wants. What do we want out of the bargain?
“We have a broad range of tools at all levels of government to manage that investment to serve the public interest, from the role of the federal government and how the Foreign Investment Act is used to serve the public interest to the role of the provincial governments and how they shape their labour, economic development and environmental ministries. Our goal should be to export the first world economy and conditions, not import a third world standard,” the Straight Goods story said.

Un répertoire pour manger local au Québec

L’organisme écologiste Équiterre propose aux citoyens du Québec un nouveau répertoire en ligne recensant plus de 300 initiatives québécoises pour s’approvisionner en fruits et légumes directement de la ferme. Accessible au grand public sur le site Internet d’Équiterre, le guide Manger local au Québec comprend plusieurs formes de circuits courts comme les marchés publics, les marchés en ligne et les épiceries, commerces ou institutions s’approvisionnant directement du producteur.
Effectuée par Équiterre, en collaboration avec Option consommateurs, Extenso et l’Université Laval, l’étude s’intéressera entre autres à l’offre des circuits courts au Québec, à l’impact de ce type de distribution sur les saines habitudes de vie et à l’accessibilité aux fruits et légumes locaux.

$230M in private financing for national rural internet, Not near enough

“Internet service provider Xplornet Communications Inc. has raised $230 million in private financing to expand its new broadband network across rural Canada and rapidly expand the New Brunswick company’s footprint. … “Most countries have a challenge with digital literacy. Whoever gets there first I think has the advantage to unleash significant productivity improvements for their economy,” said Xplornet’s CEO John Maduri,” LuAnn LaSalle reported for The Canadian Press on May 24.
“However, lawyer John Lawford of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre said Xplornet’s service won’t be affordable in rural and remote areas and adds that the technology also won’t match what is available to urban consumers. “It’s not going to help the average person,” said Lawford, who estimated that about $35 a month, and ideally less, the service in rural and remote areas would be considered affordable,” The Canadian Press reported.

CRTC rules CFIB is a consumer group

“The CRTC denied  on Friday a request from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) to remove a group from the board nomination process of the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS).  Last February, PIAC requested that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) be removed from the process for nominating consumer-group appointed directors to the CCTS, an independent telecom consumer agency established by service providers in 2007,” a May 20 Wire Report story said.
”(T)he CRTC said the CFIB “is independent of the telecommunications industry and represents a subset of consumers of telecommunications services … whose complaints fall within the CCTS’s mandate,” the Wire Report story said.

Canadians not happy about mobile costs, PIAC advocates major reforms needed

“Canadians are still unhappy with the cost and level of mobile service they receive, despite an influx of new wireless competition in the last year, according to a new survey by J.D. Power and Associates.The consumer reports group measured satisfaction in service, phone offerings and retail experience and found that Canadians are most unhappy with the cost of service. Satisfaction in this category averaged only 551 on a 1,000-point scale, compared to an average of 648 for overall satisfaction,” Stefania Moretti reported for QMI Agency on May 10
“Canadian consumer rights group Public Interest Advocacy Centre has called for major reforms to Canada’s telecommunications industry because, it says, Canadians are still not reaping the benefits of deregulation and increased competition,” QMI Agency reported.