The Harper Conservatives are using their market-moving cellphone industry announcement Tuesday to raise money for the Tory party.
On Tuesday morning Industry Minister Christian Paradis revealed that he was rejecting a proposed deal by Telus Corp. to buy financially troubled carrier Mobilicity and signalled further attempts by incumbents to buy spectrum from rivals would be forbidden if it reduces competition in the marketplace.
Just hours later on the same day, Conservative Party of Canada executive director Dan Hilton sent out an e-mail to a party list of subscribers that trumpets the announcement as a boon for consumers and sends them to a Tory Party webpage that invites readers to donate to the party. The link in the email, http://Conservative.ca/Wireless, takes readers to a page that includes a button to make financial contributions to the Conservatives.
"Our Conservative government is taking action to reduce your cell phone bill – and we wanted to make sure you have heard about it," Mr. Hilton says in the email.
"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," he says.
"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 per cent since 2008."
The Conservative Party official asks readers to "stand with" the Tories.
"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."
"It's no secret that the Harper government puts Canadian consumers first," Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey said. "Today's announcement is yet another reminder of why Canadians elected a stable, national, majority Conservative government – one which will always put the interests of Canadian consumers first."
NDP consumer protection critic Glenn Thibeault blamed struggling carrier Mobility's financial troubles on Conservative policy failures, saying it's surprising the Tories "have the nerve to try to fund raise on the issue."