BUSINESS

Stephen Harper's Wireless Petition Probably Just Trolling For Your Personal Data

07/04/2013 02:23 EDT | Updated 07/04/2013 07:22 EDT
CP

Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants you to know he’s on your side in the epic battle of consumers against Big Telecom’s big wireless bills.

Or maybe it’s the Conservative Party trying to get your name and email address, so they can spam you with political ads.

Either way, a post appeared on Harper’s Facebook page Wednesday linking to a Conservative Party petition called “Standing Up For Wireless Consumers.”

The Facebook post urges people to “sign the petition if you believe Canadians will benefit from more choice and greater competition among wireless providers.”

If it strikes you as odd that a prime minister would launch a petition to put pressure on his own government, the Globe and Mail offers an explanation: It “appears to be a way for the Conservative Party to collect names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers of sympathetic voters,” the newspaper suggests.

That theory would be supported by the petition site’s text, which reads more like an ad for Harper’s record on the wireless industry than an actual petition demanding change.

Text version follows slideshow

What You Need To Know About Wireless Code of Conduct

“Our Conservative government is taking action to reduce your cell phone bill – and we wanted to make sure you have heard about it,” the petition page exhorts, noting the Harper government’s recent decision to block Telus’ purchase of wireless spectrum from small wireless player Mobilicity.

Harper waded into the debate the same day it was revealed that the country’s big three telecom companies -- Bell, Rogers and Telus -- along with several regional carriers launched a lawsuit to halt part of the CRTC’s changes to wireless rules.

The CRTC’s wireless code of conduct, announced last month, would allow Canadians to opt out of three-year wireless contracts after two years, with no penalties incurred.

But the big telecoms argue that the June, 2015, deadline for the rule to come into effect for all contracts is too soon. They say the new rules would retroactively change contracts customers signed as far back as 2012.

That would set a "troublesome precedent," Telus spokesman Shawn Hall said.

The lawsuit names as respondents not only the CRTC, but consumer advocacy group OpenMedia and numerous individuals who participated in the hearings on the wireless code.

Hall told HuffPost Canada the big telecoms aren’t trying to sue consumer groups and individuals who voiced opinions at CRTC hearings; the rules of the Federal Court required that these people be named in the suit, Hall said.

Harper’s Facebook post did not address the lawsuit against the CRTC.