A Liberal government won't waste time setting the rules for upcoming wireless spectrum auctions that carriers are eagerly waiting for, says the party's Industry critic.
"If we come to power on the third of May we will make it clear to them as quickly as possible so they'll be able to make their decision well head of time" on participating in the auction, Marc Garneau (pictured) said in an interview Tuesday.
However, Garneau refused to say now what the party's position is on matters such as whether there will be a set aside for smaller carriers or whether foreign-controlled companies will be allowed to bid on spectrum.
As an opposition party, the Liberals haven't had access to information held by government departments, he explained, so the public will have to wait.
Garneau is running for re-election in the Montreal riding of Westmount-Ville Marie.
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He made the comments as he detailed some of the reasoning behind the party's digital strategy, which was released over the weekend as part of its platform.
It says digital-related technologies created by the information and communications industries are one of three Champion Sectors a Liberal government will focus on.
The Harper government delayed announcing its auction rules until it set its policy on liberalizing foreign telecommunications investment. In a separate interview, Industry Minister Tony Clement, who is running for re-election, said before the election was called the government's plan was to announce that policy later this year. Garneau, however, seems to suggest that the Liberals aren't tying the auction rules to foreign investment.
The Liberals want to change foreign investment in the telecom sector, Garneau said, but only after being assured that it won't diminish Canadian content carried by broadcasters. This is complicated because a number of major Internet carriers are telephone or cable companies who also own TV channels or stations such as Shaw Communications Inc. (which recently bought the CanWest Global network), BCE Inc., (which owns Bell Canada and the CTV network), and Rogers Communications Inc. (which owns TV stations in Ontario.) Rogers and Bell are also wireless companies, while Shaw is starting to build its wireless network.