Solutions Beyond Capitalism: Public Ownership of Telecommunications
By Kyle Buott, President, Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council and a member of Solidarity Halifax
Canada’s telecom giants (Rogers, Bell and Telus, et al) have been running ads for the last months opposing the entrance of Verizon, an American company, into the Canadian wireless market. Recently Verizon announced they would not be entering the Canadian market after all.
For Canadians however, this was a lose-lose situation. If Verizon did come to Canada, we would just have a fourth mega corporations charging us some of the highest wireless rates in the world. Now that Verizon isn’t coming we just have a three mega corporations charging us some of the highest wireless rates in the world.
The problem isn’t the number of massive corporations exploiting us, it’s that they are exploiting us for their own profit. That’s the issue.
All of the coverage of this issue so far has ignored what is happening. The Harper regime is planning to auction off the public airwaves to these mega corporations. These airwaves, like all natural resources, are publicly owned and Canadians should be the ones to benefit from them, not the telecom giants. Instead they are going to be sold off and we will see little benefit.
The solution is very simple – democratic, public ownership of telecommunications.
Telecommunications are a utility. Utilities are designed to provide things we consider modern essentials. They are often massive due to the advantage of the economy of scale. All utility’s, including electricity, transit, heat, telecommunications, water, etc should be publicly owned and democratically managed in the public interest.
When utilities are publicly owned they strive for the good of all of us, not private profits for shareholders.
Public utilities focus on keeping rates low, creating good jobs, economic development, and giving back to the community. Not to mention that the profits of a public utility go back to fund health care, education and roads, not into private profits.
The solution here is simple. We should do what dozens of countries around the world do. We should do what Saskatchewan does. We should have a public utility for telecommunications.
“Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.”
PS: Also, consider checking out this article on public ownership of telecommunications by Thomas Walkom in the Toronto Star: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/09/03/with_verizon_out_why_not_create_crown_corporation_walkom.html