“If he’s upset because he can’t get Snapchat on his BlackBerry, frankly he can get his own device and pay for it with his own money.”
Those were the words of Conservative Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris yesterday, after a petition circled the Ontario legislature that would allow for members to be issued smartphones other than BlackBerrys, which are standard issue for members of parliament and their staff.
The subject of Harris’s ire was Liberal MPP for Etobicoke-North, Shafiq Qaadri, who tabled the petition and said the current policy was “handicapping, retarding and penalizing MPPs”.
Harris argued that BlackBerry is an “iconic” Canadian company and is used by world leaders across the globe, who employ the devices for their highly regarded security.
While its unclear whether Qaadri’s petition will gain any traction, it appears that at least two members of his own party won’t be supporting the motion.
“Our government continues to be a strong supporter of this iconic brand that’s transformed the way people connect around the world,” said Liberal MPP Daiene Vernille of Kitchener-Centre.
“I have only ever used BlackBerry and will only ever use BlackBerry,” said Cambridge Liberal MPP Kathryn McGarry.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen, in a post on the BlackBerry website, had strong words for Qaadri, arguing that he “wrong on so many levels”.
“Many of the dollars spent with BlackBerry go right back into the local and national economy,” said Chen. “BlackBerry spends more on research and development than any other Ontario company. The $1.3 billion we spend annually also makes us one of the largest R&D spenders in all of Canada. Some 90% of BlackBerry’s research engagements are with Canadian universities and we hire more than 1,000 co-op students from local institutions every year.”
Chen added: “As an Ontario-headquartered company, BlackBerry pays corporate taxes in Ontario on revenue generated from sales worldwide, not just in Ontario. Among many other things, we help support the operations of the legislative assembly — and that includes Mr. Qaadri’s salary.”
BlackBerry’s share of the global smartphone market has fallen to just 0.5%. In Canada, the company still holds a market share of 8.9%.