This week’s throne speech will offer potential reforms to the television industry, focusing on how consumers are often forced to buy bundled packages of channels when they aren’t interested in most, Industry Minister James Moore said.
“We want to go to a ‘pick-and-pay’ system where, across this country, we’ll be working to make sure that that becomes a reality,” he said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark. “Because we don’t think Canadians should be forced to buy things that they’re not interested in consuming.”
The Conservatives also plan to further help consumers through an air passenger bill of rights, as well as small and medium sized businesses through credit card processing fees, Moore said.
During the last federal election, the NDP campaigned on similar reforms to the fees credit card companies slap on some businesses, and the official Opposition has also introduced a passenger bill of rights—measures the Conservatives never supported.
Video: Aaron Wherry from Maclean’s and Laura Stone from Global discuss whether the new Conservative consumer protection measures can take attention away from the ongoing Senate and elections scandals?
Moore acknowledged the Conservatives agree with some of the NDP’s criticisms, but don’t see eye to eye on the opposition’s proposed solutions to the perceived problems.
“The best way to support consumers and the best way to support the middle class is to really empower them and you empower them by lowering taxes,” Moore said.
“We’re at this point where we have an opportunity to take this great foundation and to move it forward,” Moore said. “So the throne speech will focus principally on growing the economy and making sure that we have jobs created in all parts of the country.”
The minister highlighted the government’s track record on low taxes and current level of unemployment, which is the lowest since December 2008.
The decreased rate, however, was on account of fewer young people actually looking for work, according to last week’s Statistics Canada report for the month of September.
During the same period, job creation slowed to 11,900 from 59,200 the previous month, the report revealed.
While a focus on the economy and jobs is nothing new for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, the special focus on consumers is, and the government seems to have a deep bag filled with consumer benefits.
“The throne speech will be moving forward on roaming,” Moore said. “We want to have more competition in Canada’s wireless sector. We think more competition leads to better prices and better services for consumers, but we also think that roaming charges are too high in this country.”
However, the government will be careful to not “over regulate” the economy, he said.
“We don’t want to do that. But certainly, there are specific things we can do in these specific sectors of the economy that would certainly stand up and protect Canadian consumers better than they’ve been protected thus far,” Moore said.
As for whether the ongoing affairs with the 2011 election and the Senate will overshadow the Conservatives’ attempt to “press the reset button,” Moore said that’s not where the focus is at the moment.
“We of course want to turn the page on the Senate and move forward and have it elected by Canadians,” he said. “But we’re not going to obsess on that one question to the detriment of all the other responsibilities that we have as a government.”
© Shaw Media, 2013