PM takes no stance on sale of MTS
PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau says he wants to see rural communities get better access to phone and Internet services but adds it is too early to voice his opinion on the proposed sale of Manitoba Telecom Services to Bell.
Trudeau was asked about the proposed $3.9-billion sale of MTS to Montreal-based BCE Inc. during a media availability after his keynote address at the Liberal party convention Saturday afternoon.
“I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to comment on, other than to say how important it is to have for consumers to have reliable access to highquality phone and Internet service,” Trudeau said.
“This is something we can’t get around in the 21st century. Much of our economic growth, much of our entrepreneurship and many opportunities that particularly marginalized or remote communities need are linked to strong, affordable access to the Internet and to cell service, and that is certainly what we are keeping in mind.”
When asked if Bell could pave the way to this improved access, Trudeau said those questions are better left to federal regulators. As part of the deal, Bell is promising to spend $1 billion on improvements over five years. The deal requires approval from regulators, including the federal government and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
The Pallister government has faced harsh criticism by the Opposition NDP over its support of the deal. The NDP claims it will lead to increased cellphone rates for Manitobans because of a shrinking market.
It’s a possibility Premier Brian Pallister hasn’t denied. But in similar line to Trudeau’s comments, Pallister argues better investment is needed to improve services for rural Manitobans.
Pallister will have a chance to speak with Trudeau face to face later this week when the prime minister returns to Winnipeg to attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ annual conference, being held Thursday to Sunday.
“I spoke with premier-elect Pallister the day after he won to congratulate him and to talk about how much I look forward to working with him on issues that matter to Manitobans and all Canadians. Issues of economic growth, issues on how we renew the relationship with indigenous people,” Trudeau said when asked if he had met with Pallister this weekend.
“I look forward to meeting with him later in the week when return to Winnipeg for the FCM.”