Inside Politics

NDP calls for committee hearings on upcoming wireless auction

Concerned, it seems, over the increasingly testy tone dominating the debate over the upcoming spectrum auction, New Democrat Industry critic Chris Charlton is calling on the government -- or, at least, Conservative industry committee chair David Sweet -- to embark on late-summer hearings to "ensure ... long-term competition and access to mobile services across Canada."

After all, she points out, "the Minister has gone so far as to launch a partisan website and improvise a behind-closed-doors 'national' tour" in response to the aggressive lobbying coming from the so-called 'Big Three' telecos -- Bell, Rogers and Telus -- against allowing US wireless giant Verizon to buy its way into the Canadian market.

Despite the looming prorogation of Parliament -- which would temporarily dissolve existing committees -- "It is not too late to examine recent developments to ensure that all Canadians will have access to the highest speeds at the best prices," the missive concludes.

It's worth noting that Charlton's communique to the chair was not accompanied by an official meeting request signed by four committee members, which would oblige the chair to convene an exploratory meeting to discuss the proposed study no later than 5 days following receipt of the letter.

According to the NDP, they're leaving that option open for now. (As was pointed out to me, there's nothing at all that prevents the chair from calling a meeting on his own.)

Perhaps more Interestingly, it is difficult to discern from the letter exactly where the NDP stands on the issue, at least as far as the battle lines drawn by Moore and the teleco trio. Presumably, that would become clear throughout the course of the putative committee hearings on the subject.

In any case, here's the full letter: 

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