Leadership hopeful Garneau to unveil plan to curb wireless costs, says source

OTTAWA – Marc Garneau is set to call Monday for greater foreign competition in Canada’s wireless market as a way to give consumers a break.

A source has told The Canadian Press that the Liberal party leadership candidate will announce a plan to relax foreign ownership rules for the country’s telecommunications industry.

It will be Garneau’s first announcement from his economic platform, and part of his strategy to position himself as the candidate of substance.

The Harper Conservatives earlier this year changed foreign-ownership rules to encourage overseas investment in the wireless sector.

But those changes only affected the country’s smaller carriers, with foreign companies allowed to buy wireless operators with less than 10 per cent of market share by revenue.

The source says Garneau will outline in Ottawa that he wants to open the flood gates to foreign ownership of wireless companies, while maintaining restrictions on broadcasting firms in order to protect Canadian culture.

Garneau is expected to unveil his entire four-point economic plan Wednesday in Toronto.

The former astronaut launched his leadership bid late last month, relying on his space-based credentials to propel him to victory.

Garneau, who was Canada’s first man in space, jumped into the political arena in 2008.

He has insisted he’s not daunted by the prospect of going up against Justin Trudeau, the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who is viewed as the favourite in the race.

Canada’s telecom regulator has been given an earful over the past few weeks from disgruntled consumers, the majority of whom have called for an end to three-year contracts for smartphones and other wireless devices.

Hundreds of people also complained to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in an online forum that there isn’t enough competition in the wireless industry.