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> Friday, June 1st, 2012 > Opinion > The “Canada Bundle”: Unlimited texting, Bill C-10 and $16 OJ
The “Canada Bundle”: Unlimited texting, Bill C-10 and $16 OJ
Victor De Jong
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Published: Friday, June 1st, 2012
If you were wondering what the connection is between our political parties and cellphone providers, you’re completely insane, because there isn’t one. However, our government seems to be following the delivery system that wireless users in Canada have been dealing with for the last decade. This system entails a major propaganda campaign to convince users – Canadians – that while their service may be costly, somehow the intangible benefits justify the cost. Furthermore they do their best to ensure that their competitors – other parties – are branded negatively simply because they are an alternative.
The Conservative government has a few top priorities such as healthcare, education and the economy. If you spend 10 seconds in research, you’ll discover these are also priorities in the Liberal and NDP parties. The vast majority of political parties differ only in name and voter demographic. The Conservative party is operating in a system with Medicare and enough social welfare programs to make the term “conservative” laughable, despite the fact that they champion themselves as the only party that could have led Canada through the global recession. What they don’t realize, and most Canadians do, is that under the various governments of the last two or three decades we’ve had more services taken from us while being told that they’ve never been more accessible. The process of “streamlining” is used to create a more efficient process wherever it’s applied and is one of the biggest fallacies pushed on Canadians in recent years. While there may be some who truly believe you can do more with less, the odds of that being the case with our government are slim to none. We have local Neighbourhood Watch chapters closing for lack of the $10,000 to fund their members’ background checks while our Minister for International Cooperation, Bev Oda, orders $16 glasses of orange juice at her overpriced hotel and bills it to taxpayers. If this is the spending behaviour of our “conservative” government, I’m terrified to think what a “liberal” one would be doing in this position.
The new Koodo advertising campaign describes the alternative service providers as “those other guys” despite the fact that, as a publicly traded company, decisions are made by shareholders – just like every other cellphone provider. It’s advantageous to create an ‘us vs. them’ mentality to create the illusion of superiority. The Conservatives do their best to smear other parties’ candidates and their policies at every turn, despite the fact that most of these policies are a rebranded version of their own proposals. It’s considered detrimental to their public image to be seen acknowledging valid arguments that come from external parties. In fact, anyone who has watched Question Period can recall many occasions in which party members, from the opposition as well, preface their answer with, “Mr. Speaker, I find it funny that (insert cog’s name) should raise this question when they voted against (insert name of any bill), which we put in place to help Canadians.” If all of these proposals have similar goals, wouldn’t it actually be more helpful to Canadians if they allowed other parties’ input to create a bill that everyone wanted to vote through? Not only would it introduce something that hasn’t been seen in decades – useful policy change – it would also save millions of taxpayer dollars that we pay for the House of Commons, Parliament and myriad committees to endlessly debate. While I fully support rigorous debate in our political structure, I would go on to argue that we haven’t seen a high enough quality of debate under this government to justify the six-figure salary of the debaters.
We’ve all reached a point where we’re ready to whip our iPhone, BlackBerry or Android against the wall and cancel the contract out of frustration. Luckily, for the most part, we restrain ourselves because of the consequences – e.g. having to pay for a new one. Well, when it comes to politics, we don’t even have that luxury. In the case of our current Conservative majority, any time an issue is brought before the House of Commons that reflects Canadians’ desire for change, we’re treated to the pre-recorded message that the “Conservative party received a clear mandate from millions of Canadians…” and so on and so forth. What this attitude fails to acknowledge is that the changes our Conservative party is willing to make in no way reflect the values of Canadians. Before you cry foul, think of the government ‘spying’ bill introduced by Vic Toews that would allow easy access by authorities to Canadians’ personal email accounts. The Conservative party managed to sideline the issue by creating a campaign around Toews, portraying him as a victim despite his actual statement concerning the bill’s implications, which went along the lines of, ‘You can either stand with us or the child pornographers.’ The (extremely appropriate) response by Canadians and indeed the “Vikileaks” phenomenon restored an iota of my faith in Canadians who show such a disheartening lack of interest in their government. The feedback system for Canadian politicians is dangerously broken and no one I’ve ever spoken with feels that they have the power to do anything that will influence that system. If our government is supposed to be made up of Canadian citizens, why do the citizens feel so powerless?
If you’re at the point where you’re ready to ‘smash that phone,’ the bad news is you can’t. Here in Canada the best we can do is – you guessed it – wait for the contract to run out and then switch providers in the naïve hope that this new one might treat you better.