Telus appoints former federal government minister Stockwell Day to its board

A Cheating Oldie But Goodie
Photo from Mr_Stein on Flickr

It looks like Big Telecom is cozying up to the government. Today, Telus announced that former Conservative Public Safety Minister (also former Minister of International Trade and Treasury Board President) Stockwell Day will be joining its board.

It was only two weeks ago that Bell also appointed a former Conservative cabinet member to its board, former Industry Minister Jim Prentice.

That's right, two of Canada's largest telecom companies are now getting even closer to the government, and benefiting from its new board members' years of high-level political careers. Strong stuff.

This minister is a particularly interesting choice for the Telus' board: Day was recently the subject of controversy when he set up a "political consulting" business. Though he denied that he would be engaged in any lobbying -- something that would be illegal due his political experience -- critics worry that Day will have undue advantage in, as his website says, "creat[ing] clear and concise government relations strategies as well as provid[ing] insightful analysis on Canadian political developments."

Telus made Day's appointment public on a Friday, buried in a press release announcing their second quarter fiscal results. These announcements reflect poorly upon the Conservatives who have taken a position against usage-based billing (UBB).

Big Fish

Telus and Bell, of course, are big fish with a lot at stake, navigating a very uncertain regulatory environment. As Canadians become more engaged in telecommunications issues and fight for our communications interests, it seems more likely that Big Telecom will have to go the extra mile to effectively persuade decision makers to create policies in their interests. In short, the tide has turned against Big Telecom, and now they're cheating to hold onto their stranglehold on the telecom market.

The time has come for citizens and public interest organizations to step up our game. We're coming up against a politically-intertwined Big Telecom lobbying machine, that's getting stronger every day, but together, we have the power to advance and protect our open communications system.

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