Now that we're back in Ottawa, MPs have returned to work on our committees, where we will dedicate much of our time over the coming weeks and months.
The work of committees doesn't often get much exposure, so I thought I'd take the time to highlight the important work they do.
As a member of the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology, I work with my colleagues to ensure that many of the engines of our economy continue to operate as they should, whether it be manufacturing, scientific research, telecommunications or small business and tourism.
For example, our committee will bring forth a completed study on the potential Rogers-Shaw merger. While perhaps a story like this would most often be found on the business pages, it could have potential impacts here in Kelowna-Lake Country.
This proposed deal will create a $50 billion company with $20 billion in revenue, 33,000 workers and almost 13 million wireless subscribers.
Anyone who's looked to find a cellphone, internet or TV plan will understand the limited number of options we have in Canada which leads to less competition and higher prices. However, Rogers and Shaw have said this merger will allow them to make significant investments in the telecommunications sector.
In 2022, millions of Canadians still cannot access high-speed internet to connect with their families, take online courses or run their businesses. We've seen how high-speed access has become a necessity during the pandemic.
The federal government does spectrum auctions, which is an auction system to sell the right to transmit signals over specific bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. We’ve heard at the Industry Committee through various studies, how spectrum is often bought by the large telecom companies but then not fully developed, especially in smaller and rural communities.
This past December, the government launched consultations on a spectrum auction policy and licensing framework. Some say the risk of less telecommunications options will not bring down prices, while Rogers and Shaw say they are looking to spur more significant investment in our wireless, cellular and broadband capabilities.
The Competition Bureau is reviewing the potential merger and will produce a report once it has completed its work.
Also at the Industry Committee, we recently had two meetings on the purchase of Canadian mining company Neo-Lithium by a Chinese state-owned enterprise. The government has lithium classified as a critical mineral for Canada and one of its primary uses is in the production of batteries.
Committee members had a chance to question the Minister of Industry about this purchase and what rationale was used to allow it. Unfortunately, the minister did not answer basic questions on the potential risks of this sale within our strategic natural resources sector, such as when he first learned of the transaction and who he consulted prior to making a decision.
The committee is now starting a broader study on critical minerals. Many of these minerals are used in green technologies and I look forward to digging into this study and hearing from experts.
While this work may not be as flashy or drama-filled as the political stories that are most shared online, this is some of the most important work I get to do to represent our riding.
I encourage all residents to follow the work being done on any parliamentary committee, as it is integral to federal policy development that affect many aspects of our everyday lives.
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