Supreme Court stands up for consumers—bails out Conservatives: Masse declares a victory for Consumers as the Supreme Court acts to rectify price gouging

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 18, 2009

Supreme Court stands up for consumers—bails out Conservatives: Masse declares a victory for Consumers as the Supreme Court acts to rectify price gouging

Ottawa On—Today the Supreme Court of Canada took action to reimburse Canadian consumers gouged by Canadian phone companies; action the Conservative Government refused to take. NDP Industry Critic Brian Masse commented--“I am very pleased with the decision of the Court today but for consumers to have had to take this route for fairness is appalling. I brought this issue forward in 2006 and along with the vigilance of numerous consumer groups across the country we have won a victory for consumers across Canada.”

On February 16, 2006, the CRTC ruled in Telecom Decision 2006-9 that the over $650 million dollars of telephone subscriber fees, placed in “deferral accounts”, raised by officially sanctioned higher rates for telephone service, was to be spent by incumbent phone companies like Bell, Aliant, Sasktel and TELUS to increase their capacity and revenue generating potential rather than refunding gouged subscribers.

In March of 2006 consumer groups, composed of the National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO) and the Consumers Association of Canada (CAC), and supported by the NDP, sought leave to appeal the CRTC decision. After a lengthy battle through the Courts Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that the companies indeed must reimburse some of the funds to consumers. Masse acknowledged the crucial role played by these groups in ensuring that Canadian consumer’s rights were protected. "I want to thank consumer groups and citizens across the country who wrote letters and emails and demanded that their rights be respected. Today's victory is a result of their hard work."

In the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology hearings into the deregulation of the telecommunications sector Masse, NDP Industry Critic, exposed the extent of this fleecing and demanded restitution.

“The Government had every opportunity to compel these companies to do the right thing but instead they chose to abandon consumers and allow this rip off to stand. Thankfully the Courts stepped in where the Conservatives refused” Masse explained.

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