On Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper took to Facebook to urge Canadians to sign a petition from the Conservative Party called “Standing up for Wireless Consumers”.
The petition lures Facebook users in with the message: “Canadians should be allowed to cancel their cell phone contracts after two years without cancellation fees. Sign the petition if you agree.”
The petition is drawing a range of strong reactions in the comments section of the post.
In June, the CRTC announced a new code of conduct for Canadian wireless carriers that will come into effect in December. The code would allow customers to cancel their existing three year contract after two years without penalty. The carriers, led by giants BCE, Telus and Rogers, are appealing the decision.
The link from Harper leads to a page on the web site of the Conservative Party that goes into more detail and provides a form for those interested to sign up, reproduced here:
“Our Conservative government is taking action to reduce your cell phone bill – and we wanted to make sure you have heard about it.
We announced three technical decisions that will help ensure there is greater competition in the wireless sector.
We will not allow the big telecommunications companies to shut down competition by buying up undue amounts of wireless spectrum – the highway over which cellphone and wireless data signals travel. More competition means lower prices and more choices for you and your family. Our government’s strong actions have reduced the average cost of wireless services for Canadians by 18% since 2008.
These actions follow on recently announced new rules from the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that will let Canadians cancel their wireless contracts after two years – at no charge. The CRTC also set a limit on extra data charges at $50/month, which means no more unaffordable surprise bills.
We know Canadians are relying on their wireless devices now more than ever – that’s why we’re putting Canadian consumers first and making sure there is more competition in the market.
Will you stand with us? Add your name.”
As of today, Friday, Harper’s Facebook post has more than 3000 “likes” and hundreds of comments that provide insight into two of Canada’s favourite pastimes; complaining about the government and complaining about our wireless carriers.
The most popular comment is from Facebook user Adam Desjardins, who says:
“The only way we will have fair rates is if the government throws the doors fully open to american competition. Then telus bell and rogers would get crushed like the cockroaches they are…”
Commenter Kambiz Ahmadi likes the petition:
“Thank you.. This is an excellent petition. Canadians have been taken advantage of for far too long and it’s time to regulate the industry that over charges and forces the consumer to sign unreasonable contracts that only benefits the corp!”
But another theme running through the replies argues that the government should be involved in the private sector.
Facebook user Philip Lynch says:
“I consider myself a libertarian/conservative, so many Conservative policies are confusing me. Should the government really be involving itself in the market? Setting rules for contracts, etc? This is not free market, this is central planning.”
And Doug Dick says Canadian consumers should take responsibility for their own actions:
“I believe that if you sign a contract you should honour your signature. I’ve had more than one cell phone provider and never signed a contract yet. I paid cash for the phone up front and all I have to do is pay my bill. I’m sorry but it’s hard to feel sorry for anyone who fell for the ”free phone” sales pitch.”