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Telecom oligarchs sink plan for affordable internet access

John Bell

May 10, 2022
Toronto Mayor John Tory launched his re-election bid by pulling the plug on “Connect TO”, a plan to provide affordable internet services to low-income people. 
High speed internet access is no longer optional; the pandemic has proven that. It is becoming impossible to manage children’s education, financial matters or communication without it. On top of the crisis of affordable housing and skyrocketing food prices, internet access for more and more people is threatened. Factor in the defunding of public libraries, and a large part of the working poor will be left behind.
According to a report in the Toronto Starthe mayor and his staff were swayed by a full court press of telecom corporate lobbyists.
Canada’s telecom rates are currently 2nd highest among developed countries. In 2021 Rogers Communication took in over $12.5 billion in revenue, more than $500 million more than the previous year. Bell Canada banked $23.45 billion for the same period. Regional player Shaw Communications only managed to post a meagre profit of $1 billion, but don’t weep for them – their profit is up 43% over last year.
It is hardly surprising that Tory and the conservative councillors who make up his executive board danced to big telecom’s tune. Tory is a lifelong friend of oligarch Ted Rogers, and his very first job was with Rogers Communication. His entire “working” life has seen him bounce between Conservative Party backrooms and Rogers executive suites. The Toronto Sun(of all places) reported in 2021 that Tory had pocketed almost $700,000 for services rendered to Rogers while mayor.  
Small wonder that Tory has been granted unprecedented access to Rogers-owned media outlets like CP24 news platforms. Sadly, the sorry state of the left on council means that, barring a disaster, Tory is a shoo-in for re-election. Toronto will be in Rogers’ pocket for the foreseeable future. And if the city’s working people are angry, we may never know, because they’ll lack the internet access to tell us. 
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