If you watched the throne speech, you’ll have seen Governor General David Johnston, on behalf of the Prime Minister, spit a whole bunch of crap about how the government is going to stand up for consumers especially on our cable and phone bills. Now don’t get me wrong, I hate, nay, loathe, Canada’s Big 3 Telecom companies Rogers, Bell and Telus.
I think my feeling towards them was best described by one of the great media critics of our time—South Park. Early last week, a fan spoofed the Oct 2nd “Informative Murder Porn” episode by photo shopping the Rogers logo above the douche-y cable TV customer service agent who denied giving Randy, the client, what he wanted. If you want to see the video you can’t, because it was taken down, but you can watch the original South Park clip here. In it, the agent says to Randy: “I’m sorry sir, if you need [your channel unlocked] now maybe you should switch to another cable company?” At this point the agent begins to rub his own nipples and in an infuriating voice rhetorically responds: “Ohh there’s not another cable company is there? Oh that’s right, we’re the only one in town…” Angry shudder…
That rhetorical question reminded me of many excruciating dealings with Rogers, Bell, Fido, Videotron (Quebec), something I’m sure everyone who’s had to deal with these corporate behemoths has gone through.
But yeah, that’s an American cartoon and there is more than one option in Canada, right? Well, sort of. Most Canadians know the other options are the same horsecrap of long-term contracts or bundles with channels we don’t want to watch or astronomical fees on internet usage. Now the Harper Government wants to save us from all that! Everybody wins, right?
No sheeple. The Conservatives want to avoid talking about their scandal-sprinkled holiday by giving us a carrot on a stick and hopefully Canadians are smart enough to not take the bait.
Do we have to remind you that since our elected officials went on their extended summer vacation, we found out more about the extent of scandals in the senate, which now includes Pamela Wallin and a friend of Mike Duffy’s who got paid $65 000 for “no tangible work?” We also found out Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro overspent $21 000 in the 2008 election campaign, the government hates science and that Canada’s spy agency was spying on Brazil on behalf of the energy industry.
But the mainstream media has already taken the bait. Over the long weekend, a story came out about an Ontario man who spent three years fighting Rogers and it’s collection agency for going after him for $5400 that he didn’t owe—subsequently tarnishing his credit rating. Odd timing for a story about something many Canadians have been dealing with for years, don’t you think? Right before the speech from the throne, which will address this very issue. What a coinky-dink.
But this is not a conspiracy. This is what they call in political science “framing” and “agenda setting.” The government can bring up an issue and if the press talks about it, that gets you thinking about it—and maybe vote based on it.
The opposition party leaders have toured the country over the summer howling scandal from coast to coast, but will it stick? A little more freedom from Big Telecom is a lot sexier of a campaign. And Harper has been investigating ways of passing a bill to get an elected senate or eliminate it all together, which will make him look great to most voters.
By the time the next election comes around in two years, will Canadians forget about the scandals of the summer of 2013? If the current government keeps trying to dazzle us by promising things like cheaper phone bills, we sadly just might.
Follow Joel on Twitter @JoelBalsam