The following letter to the editor by CCRC Chairperson Duff
Conacher was published in slightly different, edited form in the July 11,
2008 issue of the National Post, and the July 15, 2008 issue of the
Saskatoon Star Phoenix, and in the July 16, 2008 issue of the
St. Catharines Standard
Federal Conservatives and federal Liberals do
nothing effective to prevent gouging of Canadians by big businesses over past
As federal Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty did last
year with representatives of Canada's big banks about new service charges,
his colleague Industry Minister Jim Prentice thinks meeting behind closed
doors with Bell Canada and Telus Corp. representatives about new cellphone
texting charges is effective government action to prevent gouging of tens
of millions of Canadian consumers.
And as Minister Flaherty and the banks did last year, Minister Prentice
and the cellphone companies will emerge from the meeting with one or two
completely insignificant changes to their charges, and Minister Prentice will
then claim his government protects consumers.
Just like the federal Liberal governments from 1993 to 2006, the current
federal Conservative government pretends that it knows when gouging is
happening, and pretends to do something about it.
Hopefully someday, Canadians will have a political party in control of
the federal government that will actually effectively protect consumers
from gouging by requiring all federally regulated businesses (banks, life
and health insurance companies, phone, cable TV and Internet
and oil and gas companies) to prove their prices are fair through independent
audits and evaluations, and if they are profiting excessively to require
these companies to lower their prices.
Energy utilities have been required to prove their prices are fair in
public hearings before energy boards in provinces across Canada for decades,
and there is no reason why federally regulated companies can't be required
to go through a similar process by the federal government.
The fact that the Liberals and Conservatives continue to protect a few
big business executives and their unjustifiable multi-million dollar salaries
instead of taking effective action to protect tens of millions of Canadians
from being loonied and toonied by these businesses shows clearly how little
they care about Canadians' day-to-day concerns.
It also shows clearly why neither party deserves to win a majority in
the next federal election, or any future election until they change their
The lack of effective action by the Conservatives is particularly
as they claim that putting money back in Canadians' pockets is the best
way to stimulate economic growth, and have lowered what they claim
taxes to do this, but they haven't done anything to lower excessive business
"taxes" (unjustifiable service charges) to put this money also back in
Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Chairperson of the Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition (CCRC)