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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 20 years

Dear Editor,

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 companies, airlines 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 position.

The lack of effective action by the Conservatives is particularly hypocritical, as they claim that putting money back in Canadians' pockets is the best way to stimulate economic growth, and have lowered what they claim are excessive 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 Canadians' pockets.

Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch 
Chairperson of the Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition (CCRC)

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Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition
P.O. Box 1040, Station B, Ottawa, Canada K1P 5R1
Tel: (613) 789-5753
Fax: (613) 241-4758
Email: cancrc@web.net

Copyright 2008 Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition