Consumer-friendly measures to be highlighted in this week's Throne Speech
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, October 13, 2013 10:23AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 13, 2013 10:51PM EDT
Touting the Conservatives as “the party of the middle class,” Industry Minister James Moore says the government’s upcoming Throne Speech will be heavy on consumer-friendly measures, including increasing wireless competition, unbundling cable television services and lowering cellphone roaming fees.
In an interview with CTV’s Question Period, Moore said the "macro push" in Wednesday’s Throne Speech, to be delivered at 5 p.m. ET by Gov.-Gen. David Johnston, will be to create jobs, keep taxes down and continue on course to a balanced budget in 2015.
But the government also plans to address a number of grievances Canadians have about services they pay for.
“We’re driving towards a balanced budget, and another way to help Canadians is by putting more money in their pocket by making sure consumers come first,” Moore said.
Specific measures include:
- Allowing consumers to select which television channels they want to watch, rather than paying for bundles.
- Increasing competition in the wireless sector.
- Capping domestic cellphone roaming fees.
- Addressing credit-card fees, particularly those paid by small businesses.
“When we put together a list of things that frustrate consumers on which the government can take action, the list gets long very quickly,” Moore said. “Some of these things get taken care of in the free market, I’m a free marketeer, free enterprise guy. In other circumstances they can’t be, and responsible government action is needed.”
Moore also said that the federal government is looking at other consumer-friendly moves as it heads into the next Parliamentary session, including addressing complaints from air passengers about problems such as over-selling flights.
He also said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is “looking at options” to address price differences for goods in Canada and the United States.
“It’s a serious concern and a frustration for Canadians. It casts doubt on this relationship that we have with the United States,” Moore said.
“When people feel like they’re getting gouged and they feel like there’s a presumption of the cost of things months and years in advance, there’s a question of fairness there that I think consumers are frustrated by.”
The federal government is clearly bent on challenging the Liberals and the NDP for the hearts and votes of the middle class with its latest agenda.
The Liberals under Leader Justin Trudeau spent the summer discussing the plight of the middle class and, after she won the Liberal nomination for the yet-to-be-called by-election in Toronto Centre, appointed Chrystia Freeland as co-chair of his new economic council of advisors. When the council was unveiled, Freeland said addressing the “squeeze” on the middle class is one of the council’s top priorities.
On Question Period, Moore said if the middle class is looking for help, they should look to the Conservatives.
“Contrary to the perception of some, the Conservative Party is not the party of big business, the Conservative Party is the party, we are the party of the middle class,” Moore said. “It’s not Justin Trudeau, it’s not Tom Mulcair. We are the party that believes in lowering taxes on Canadian families, balancing the budget, putting more money into the pockets of individual families.”
Watch the full interview and political panelists’ discussion with Robert Fife, on CTV’s Question Period, Sunday at 11 a.m. ET