Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Bernard Lord confirms he helped kill valuable consumer tool

In a follow-up to yesterday's news that the Conservatives caved to industry pressure and killed an online tool that would have helped Canadian consumers find more affordable cell phone plans, former Conservative Premier of New Brunswick, current industry lobbyist, and likely future Stephen Harper successor Bernard Lord has confirmed he helped convince the Conservatives to kill the tool:

Bernard Lord, the head of the CWTA and former Conservative premier of New Brunswick, said he did meet with Industry Canada officials to discuss the calculator. The CWTA's position was that the calculator was flawed since it did not take into account data plans, bundle discounts and hardware subsidies offered by carriers.

"The minister made the right decision, to not continue to dump good taxpayer money into a tool that was ineffective," he said.
While Lord and his industry friends may be happy with Tony Clement's capitulation, consumers aren't. While a spokesperson for Clement is desperately trying to spin...
"Technical limitations prevented the officials from building a tool at this time that captures the full spectrum of offerings available to consumers in the cellphone marketplace," she said. "The proposed calculator design only considered voice communications and text messaging. As this is an industry with ever-evolving elements, such as bundles, data and seasonal offerings, it made it highly improbable to ensure that Canadians were being presented with current and relevant data."
... their excuses are transparently feeble.
Liberal consumer affairs critic Dan McTeague dismissed the technical issues as an excuse and called on the government to explain the decision.

"If there was a significant problem in the implementation, it would have been discovered much earlier in the process," McTeague said in a statement. "Why is the Harper government against transparency? A significant amount of taxpayer-funded government resources had already gone into this project. This calculator is especially important during these belt-tightening times."

And the scale of this Conservative boondoggle is growing.
PIAC's Lawford, who used to work for a database company, said such extra charges could have easily been added on later, after a tool for calculating basic costs was set up. He estimated the calculator project has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly even reaching into the millions. The Decima user study cost $60,000 alone.

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LeDaro said...

"...former Conservative Premier of New Brunswick, current industry lobbyist, and likely future Stephen Harper successor." Harper successor? You got to be kidding. The guy is a dead-loss. He was a lousy Premier and why anyone would consider him for a national leadership. You got that wrong.

Mark Francis said...

A developer, I have to say that ther are no technological limitations involved in a project like this. I modify far more complex applications all the time to account for changes in product offerings, including uppingf the complexity of a database. More applications, expecially online ones, are quite flexible to change.

alexa said...

I thought you may be interested in a press release from the perspective of a small business trying to create precisely what the the government was proposing.

The release is published on our website at cellplanexpert.ca to let confused conusumers know that this tool already exists to save them time and money. We think we can provide a better product than Industry Canada can.