Over the past several years, the Conservative government has made repeated efforts to push telecos to lower prices in the sector.
Yet, despite clashing publicly with the industry's biggest players over telecom and media policies, these have not emerged as significant issues in the federal election campaign.
But the parties have provided little insight on how they would approach issues such as competition in the wireless industry and lower consumer prices.
In a report Friday, Scotia Capital Inc. analyst Jeff Fan wrote that anything but a Conservative majority government would be a positive result for the industry's biggest players and that a Liberal majority "could be a fresh and positive change for the incumbents."
He pointed to numerous instances of what he called increased regulatory pressure in recent years: cellular airwave auctions designed to favour new entrants, relaxed foreign investment rules for smaller players, caps on the prices large players can charge their competitors for roaming fees, as well as the CRTC's wireless code of conduct and its ruling in favour of "pick-and-pay" television packages.
It's not likely that any government would look to undo the consumer-friendly policies the Conservative government has put in place, but Mr. Fan suggested that tensions could ease between Ottawa and the big players, particularly BCE Inc., Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp., which railed against telecom policies in a public clash in 2013 when Verizon Communications Inc. considered entering the market.
Under a Liberal majority, he wrote, "We believe the incumbent carriers have learned their lesson and would welcome a fresh start to engage in a more productive two-way dialogue with a new government, while emphasizing they employ thousands of Canadians."
As for various possible minority governments, Mr. Fan said he expects that tackling large issues related to the industry's market structure and economics would not be a high priority, especially early in any government's term.
"In particular, we believe a Liberal minority government would be less likely to rank telecom and media policy issues high on its priority list. We believe it would become involved only if a transaction forced it to act," he said.
"We believe a Conservative minority would focus on other issues; however, if pushed by the NDP, it might continue to focus on consumer-related polices linked to price and competition."
In any case, he said, the telecom file is a complicated one and any newly appointed Industry Minister would need time to get up to speed on these issues, making significant regulatory changes unlikely in the near term. (A new minister is a guaranteed outcome as current Minister James Moore is not running for re-election.) Finally, Mr. Fan wrote that under a Liberal government he would expect to see less scrutiny of the CRTC.
"In recent years, the Conservative government appeared to take a more hands-on approach to setting telecom policy and as a result CRTC decisions have been under the microscope. If a new Liberal government is elected, we believe it would take a more hands-off approach given its many other priorities."