‘We’re not going to ask’: Singh vows to ‘impose’ lower cellphone bills on telecom companies

Burnaby NOW

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh spoke a town hall in Burnaby South Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. Photo by Kelvin Gawley/Burnaby NOW

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh vowed to take on big telecom companies to “force” them to charge Canadians less on their cellphone bills.

He made the promise at a town hall at the Burnaby Firefighters Banquet Hall Tuesday evening in front of some 200 supporters. It was the New Democrat’s first visit to Burnaby South, his home riding, since the writ dropped on the 2019 federal election.

“I have a crazy cellphone bill,” an audience member told Singh. “Recently, the Liberals talked about what they want to do, but they talk about a lot of things. Can you explain to me what you’re going to be doing?”

Singh told the man he wasn’t alone in facing a steep bill.

“We’re getting ripped off,” he said, noting Canadians pay some of the biggest cellphone bills in the world.

Singh said the Liberals’ promise to reduce cellphone bills by 25 per cent won’t work because they only plan to negotiate with companies.

“Our plan is this: we want to take them on. We’re not afraid of them. I don’t work for them,” he said.

Singh said the NDP would use the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to cap rates at the average rates in other OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

A New Democratic government would also mandate “true unlimited” data plans that will be affordable and won’t allow companies to throttle data.

“We’re not going to ask … We’re not going to negotiate this. We’re going to impose this and I’m not afraid to do it,” he said.

Trudeau promised on Sunday the Liberals would work with Canada’s incumbent carriers and select to negotiate a 25 per cent rate reduction over two years. If the companies don’t comply, Trudeau threatened to open the market to outside competition.

 – With files from the Canadian Press