Conservatives signal consumer-friendly throne speech
Industry minister touts new money-saving consumer protection measures
Have roaming fees sent your phone bill through the roof? Did you ever buy an airline ticket and get bumped from the flight? Are you paying a bundle for TV programs you never watch?
Those are common frustrations that generate frequent complaints from Canadians, concerns the federal government is promising to address.
The Conservatives are crafting a political blueprint that will include new consumer-protection measures.
In an interview with CBC News, Industry Minister James Moore confirmed the upcoming speech from the throne will lay out a consumer-first agenda.
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"You can be assured that the measures that we're going to take on roaming, on not forcing Canadians to pay for television channels that they're not interested in watching, un-grouping television channels for example. All of these measures taken together will absolutely put money in the pockets of consumers," he said.
Moore indicated the throne speech will also signal movement on an airline passenger bill of rights.
"I'm a free enterprise, free market guy. But, when airlines are selling 175 seats on a 165-seat plane and 10 people show up and they're turned away for a ticket that they paid for, for a seat that they paid for — they played by the rules and airlines just treat consumers that way. I think people get frustrated and they expect action, and we plan to act," he said.
"We are not the party of the big business. We are the party of the middle class. Through tax relief, through protecting consumers, and we're going to continue in that direction with the throne speech and with our fall agenda," Moore said.
Earlier this week on CBC Radio's The House, Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney said the government is not proposing "radical changes that destabilize important Canadian industries."
"We are looking though at moving the pendulum more in the direction of the consumers' interests," Kenney said.
Opposition parties react
"There are a lot of consumer issues, like the gouging by the credit card companies, overcharging for banking fees — these are all easy things for the federal government to act upon that it simply hasn't done. Even if they announce it now, you can bet that it's not actually going to get done," Mulcair said.
When asked if the initiatives would appeal to middle class voters, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said: "That they're finally turning around and realizing, 'oh my gosh the middle class is squeezed and we need to start doing something about it,' is great. But, so far, I'm disappointed by the kinds of measures they're talking about because they're very much political responses. They're short-term band-aids and this government is not addressing the deeper challenges that Canadians are facing in their economy."
Canadians will learn more about the government's promises on pocketbook issues on Oct.16, when the throne speech is read in the Senate — a place that has been the source of so much controversy for the Conservatives. Spending by Senators is what the opposition parties say they'll be focused on when Parliament resumes.
"You can't reset corruption, you can't reset lies. We know what's been going on in the Senate. Answering Parliament's questions, answering the public's question, that's part of the job description whether Stephen Harper likes it or not," Mulcair said.
"I think the Senate scandal will continue to demonstrate that we have a government that does not trust Canadians," Trudeau said. "Canadians deserve better and we're going to keep demanding they get better from this government."