The Conservatives have talked for years about reforming or doing away with the CRTC, and here's one place Stephen Harper and his Heritage Minister, Bev Oda, may want to start.
I certainly don't like what I see here. Basically, the CRTC is unilaterally funneling $625.7 million that should be refunded to Canadian telephone customers toward expansion of broadband Internet services to remote communities because the unelected poobahs of the CRTC think that's a better use of the money. The money came from a CRTC mandated overbilling of Canadians to facilitate greater competition in the industry.
Expanding broadband Internet access to rural communities is important, and as I recall it was one of Brian Tobin's pet projects as Industry Minister, but when did it become the CRTC's mandate to set innovation and infrastructure policy, not to mention allocate hundreds of millions in funding? If I'm not mistaken, that's still Parliament's job.
If the government wants to fund rural broadband Internet expansion it should include it in its next budget, and the telcos should write a cheque to their customers to refund the over billing. The CRTC falls under the Heritage Minister, who, I'm pretty sure, can overrule this decision.
So Bev, whadya say?
CRTC decision sparks outrage
No refunds for consumers overbilled by $652 million
By: Rosie Lombardi
IT World Canada (17 Feb 2006)
Consumer advocacy groups are outraged at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's (CRTC) decision, announced yesterday, to funnel $652.7 million resulting from deliberate overbillings of telephone customers to expansion of broadband services instead of refunding the money.
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