Inside Politics

NDP files formal request to bring MPs back to look into spectrum auction

Earlier this week, NDP Industry critic Chris Charlton dispatched an open letter to Conservative Industry committee chair David Sweet, in which she suggested that, given the increasingly testy debate surrounding the looming spectrum auction, he might want to consider bringing the committee back for a series of pre-session hearings on the future of the Canadian wireless sector.

Apparently, Sweet didn't take the hint, which prompted the NDP to back up its initial plea -- with a formal request -- specifically, a a letter to the clerk, signed by the four New Democrats on the committee:

Under the standing orders, Sweet is now obliged to convene a meeting within five days. Although there's no guarantee that the NDP will get its way, they'll at least get the chance to put their proposal to their committee colleagues.

Here's the full text of the motion that the NDP plans to put forward at the meeting:

"That the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology immediately commence a study on Industry Canada's upcoming auction of the 700 MHz aspect of the radio spectrum, specifically examining the policy and licensing framework being used by the government, its impact on access to wireless services for all Canadians, the prices Canadians will pay for those services, Canadian jobs, and the privacy of Canadians; and that for this study the Minister, officials as well as industry, labour and consumer stakeholders be called as witnesses, and that the study be completed for September 13th, 2013."

Now, as is standard with such by-request meetings, there's no requirement that the ensuing discussion be held in public -- all it takes is a motion to go in camera, and the motion could be quietly defeated behind closed doors.

Still, given the zeal with which Industry Minister James Moore has waded into the fray, it's entirely possible that the Conservative majority could support the NDP's pitch. 

After all, what better way to highlight your newfound cred as the consumer's best friend than to instruct your party's representatives on the committee to back the call for public hearings, which would give the minister the opportunity to make his case in a suitably parliamentary forum. 

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