Ottawa is allowing Rogers Communications Inc. to complete its $20-billion takeover of Shaw Communications Inc. by approving the transfer of Shaw’s wireless licences to Videotron Ltd.
But there will be a number of conditions aimed at lowering cellphone bills and making internet and wireless services more accessible.
The approval from Federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne ends a two-year battle for a deal that will combine the country’s two largest cable networks and allow Quebecor Inc.’s Videotron to expand outside of its home province of Quebec by acquiring Shaw’s Freedom Mobile, Canada’s fourth-largest wireless carrier, for $2.85-billion.
Federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced during a news conference Friday that Rogers and Videotron have signed written undertakings agreeing to 21 different conditions relating to the affordability and accessibility of wireless services.
Mr. Champagne said he will “be like a hawk” to ensure that the companies uphold their commitments.
Telecom reporter Alexandra Posadzki and Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife report here.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter sign-up page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
O’TOOLE EXIT – Former federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has announced he will resign his seat at the end of the spring session of the House of Commons, ending a career in politics that saw him serve as a cabinet minister and take the party into the 2021 election. Story here.
ONE CHILD MISSING AFTER SIX MIGRANTS FOUND DEAD – The bodies of six migrants were pulled from the St. Lawrence River near the Mohawk territory of Akwesasne in Quebec on Thursday evening, while one child and a 30-year-old Mohawk man remain missing, according to local authorities. Story here.
ATTEMPTED BREAK-IN AT HOME OF PM’S NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER – Ottawa Police is investigating an attempted break-in at the residence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national security adviser, the second such incident involving one of his top aides in recent months. Story here from CTV.
POILIEVRE PULLS VIDEO – Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre was ordered by the Commons Speaker to remove part of a video he put out on Twitter on Thursday accusing the Liberals of trying to close down debate on the online streaming bill. Story here.
GOVERNMENT DEFENDS PICK FOR INTERIM CONFLICT OF INTEREST COMMISSIONER – The federal Liberals are defending their choice to appoint a senior cabinet minister’s sister-in-law as the government’s interim Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, as opposition parties argue that her very presence in the role will create the type of ethical bind the office exists to combat. Story here.
SAJJAN PRESSED TO LOBBY FOR ARMS DEAL – A Canadian government minister was briefed to lobby for a deal between one of the country’s leading military equipment manufacturers and Qatar’s armed forces ahead of a visit to the emirate for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Story here.
BERGEN TO HELP PCs IN MANITOBA ELECTION – Candice Bergen has signed on to co-chair the Manitoba Progressive Conservative election campaign, weeks after resigning her seat in the House of Commons. Story here.
FREELAND DEFENDS FEDERAL BUDGET – Canada’s Finance Minister is defending the 2023 federal budget’s lack of new funding for more affordable housing, saying policies announced in last year’s budget address the crisis of unaffordable real estate and rents hitting many communities across the country. Story here.
ECONOMY PICKS UP MOMENTUM – The Canadian economy has picked up momentum in the early stages of 2023 and avoided slipping into a recession, despite the highest interest rates in more than 15 years. Story here.
PRIVATE MEMBERS CARBON PRICING BILL PASSES – A private member’s bill that would create specific carve-outs for farmers in Canada’s carbon pricing scheme has passed in the House of Commons. Story here.
REYNOLDS IN OTTAWA FOR SENATORS BID – Canadian-born Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds – one of the more prominent suitors interested in purchasing the Ottawa Senators – has been in the capital, taking meetings with officials, including the mayor, and attending a Senators game. Story here from CBC.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, March. 31, accessible here.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER’S DAY – Chrystia Freeland, also finance minister, was in Vancouver where she was scheduled to hold private meetings, and hold a round table discussion with health care workers on the budget, then deliver remarks and take media questions.
COMMONS BREAK – After Friday, the House of Commons is taking a two-week break, with business resuming on April. 17. The Senate will also be on a break until April. 17.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD – Ministers continue to travel Canada, talking about the federal budget. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, was in Oshawa, at Durham Collage. Families Minister Karina Gould, was in Winnipeg, at the University of Manitoba. Rural Development Minister Gudie Hutchings, was in Sydney, N.S. Seniors Minister Kamal Khera, was in Welland. International Trade Minister Mary Ng was in Digby and Middleton, N.S., meeting with Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland, visiting a dental centre and a farmers’ market.
Meanwhile, Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray is travelling in Norway and Iceland, between Thursday and next Wednesday. According to a statement from her office, the Minister’s itinerary includes meeting with senior officials from both governments as well as aquaculture technology companies, and environmental non-governmental organizations.
TRUDEAU-DOYLE DUET – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Newfoundland artist Alan Doyle did a duet at a Shed Party event in Ottawa earlier this week. Federal cabinet minister Gudie Hutchings, a Newfoundland and Labrador MP, recorded the occasion here.
BAINS NOT SEEKING ONTARIO LIBERAL LEADERSHIP – Former federal industry minister Navdeep Bains has, in a tweet here, ruled out a bid to seek the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, but says he will help rebuild the party as a members.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Moncton, and accompanied by Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc and Official Languages Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, met with dental hygienist students and patients, made a dental-care announcement, and took media questions. Mr. Trudeau was then scheduled to visit a health-care research institute and meet with health care workers and researchers. Later, in Dieppe, N.B., Mr. Trudeau was scheduled to participate in a town hall with local families, hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of Moncton.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Toronto, held a news conference about dental care and met with students at George Brown College.
No other schedules released for party leaders.
Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast features Globe reporter Frédérik-Xavier Duhamel on the impact of changing rules at the unofficial Roxham Road border crossing. After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden announced the changes, Mr. Duhamel went to Roxham Road and spoke to migrants trying to make the trek as changes to the Safe Third Country Act now limit who can claim asylum in Canada via that passage. The Decibel is here.
A new Innovative Research Group poll suggests that while the controversy surrounding China’s alleged interference in Canada’s last two elections has not yet captured the attention of most Canadians, early signs suggest that it is damaging the Liberals’ reputation and could potentially become more significant. Details here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how a new cold war needs action from Ottawa: “Budgets are about choices. With Tuesday’s budget, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland hasn’t confronted the growing threat to Canada’s security from both Russia and China. This budget puts the security of Canadians at risk, and puts at risk as well Canada’s commitment to the Western alliance. The world has entered another cold war, one even more dangerous than the last. This war has seen NATO training and arming Ukrainian troops to kill Russian troops who invaded their country. This war has seen China openly threatening to invade Taiwan. It’s not really cold at all. In such a world, Canada’s highest priority should be moving defence spending to at least 2 per cent of its gross domestic product.”
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how a subsidy war with the U.S. is not the way out of our economic growth crisis: “This week’s federal budget projects real growth averaging a little over 1.6 per cent per year over the next five years. But our population is growing at about the same rate, maybe even faster. Result: Real per capita GDP in 2027 will still be lower than it was in 2017. As it will remain, perhaps, for some years after that. You have to go back to the 1930s to find a comparable period of stagnation. The implications should be obvious.”
Marsha Lederman (The Globe and Mail) on Vancouver facing serious issues and needing real leadership to solve them: “There is a lot to love about Vancouver, which consistently makes the lists of the world’s most livable cities. It is beautiful, temperate, and easy to navigate by bike, transit (if it’s not snowing) or car, should you choose. You can ski and sail on the same day (although try to find someone who has actually done that). But boy, does this city have issues. A Facebook friend posted a real estate listing this week: a 1930 bungalow on a narrow lot on Vancouver’s west side, offered at $2.48-million. Rents are astronomical too, if you can even find a place.”
Vicky Mochama (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how the word ‘woke’ is dead: “Dearly beloved: we are gathered here today, wherever you are, to honour the life of a great one. “Woke” leaves behind a large and rambunctious family: from the baby of the family, “Defund the Police,” to the elder auntie, “Intersectionality.” Woke meant so much to so many diverse white people and their assorted allies, too. It was there for us when we needed it, when we didn’t know what to say, let alone how to say it. Her decline has been hard to watch.”
Paul Wells (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how, to make sense of the police response to the Ottawa convoy, look at Ipperwash: “And here’s the question that haunts me. We’re still talking about Ipperwash because almost 30 years ago, a rookie government and an unprepared police force viewed a deeply justifiable protest as a problem to be pushed aside. What would the next few decades in Canadian politics look like if police in Ottawa had given the Freedom Convoy a martyr?”
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