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View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, something our Parliament should be addressing is the fact that an emerging catalyst for inequality is access to fast, affordable and reliable Internet. As we have seen 4G technology revolutionize our economy with things like streaming services and apps like Uber, we have seen the disruptive impact this has had on the economy in a positive way, but that is only going to accelerate as we see 5G technology roll out over the next five years. When we already have an issue in this country between urban and rural divide, rich and poor, and we have to deal with the issue of reconciliation, we should be looking for ways to unite us through technology and through fast, affordable access to the Internet.
The reality is there are over a million Canadians who do not have any type of access and there are many more people in Canada who pay a lot more. It becomes an affordability and equality issue. Right now, most people in Canada pay five times more than an American does for data. We pay 10 times more than a European does.
When the Liberals talk about reducing cellphone bills by a certain percentage that is not even close to that without any sort of plan outside of maybe asking the telcos nicely and hope that they do this, it is really not addressing the issue of a catalyst for inequality in any sort of meaningful way. I am hoping that in this Parliament, the government will be open to working with the opposition on concrete, innovative ways to get access for everyone.
If over 100 years ago, or whatever the time period was, we built a railway across the Rocky Mountains and across the Canadian Shield, then surely we can figure out how to do things like lay infrastructure so that first nations communities are not separated from Canada and rural Canadians have the same access as urban Canadians do. We want urban and rural Canadians, everybody, to have access to a vital service that is the underpinning of our economy and of the economy of the future.
What I mean by working collaboratively is there are things the government needs to be stating its intent on. I would first point out it needs to signal whether it is going to uphold the ruling on MVNOs that allows for more competition in this space. That is something many Canadians are advocating for in order to ensure there is competitiveness so there is a market pressure downward on this type of access.
It would be interesting if the government signalled some sort of intent to look at new ways to auction spectrum. If we look at this building as having a value to the government, I am not sure we would just sell it off as is without any sort of requirement on how it is being used given how important it is to the Canadian people. We have to start looking at spectrum from the same perspective, that this is an asset that will become an underpinning of the Canadian economy in a much more integrated way and ask whether there are ways we can use this to better incent competition and better incent that fast, reliable and affordable access in Canada.
I do not want to hear these prepared talking points that do one of two things, such as, the Liberals are going to reduce cellphone bills by 25%. How? How are they going to do that, just by asking nicely? The second thing I do not want to hear about is a digital charter that has no teeth and no plan to implement.
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