Monday, March 15, 2010

Failed auction for Globalive cost taxpayers millions

Failed auction for Globalive cost taxpayers millions
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to overrule the CRTC and allow Globalive to proceed with its wireless service in Canada, cost taxpayers many tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Hill Times
March 15, 2010
By Brent Fullard

TORONTO—Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to overrule the CRTC and allow Globalive to proceed with its wireless service in Canada, cost taxpayers many tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars.

The explanation of this is both very simple and very troubling, especially since the Harper government is pointing to this failed exercise involving Globalive as its model for success in opening the Canadian telecommunications to foreign investment as announced in the recent Throne Speech.

A policy decision was made by the Harper government to provide for greater competition in the Canadian cellphone market by auctioning off new wireless spectrum. It was argued that competition would be maximized if certain spectrum were only made available to new entrants as opposed to “all comers.”

Such a decision involved acknowledging that there is a trade-off between doing that which fosters the greatest competition in the wireless marketplace and that which maximizes the proceeds from the sale of this spectrum.

The government opted maximizing competition in the service market over maximizing value received, by only allowing new entrants to bid for this new spectrum. Fewer bidders in most auctions invariably leads to lower prices. Such is the dynamic at play here.

So far, so good.

However somewhere the process broke down, because one of the key legislated requirements under the Telecommunications Act, is that holders of wireless spectrum meet the test of being “Canadian.”

Such findings of fact are the domain of the CRTC, who subsequently ruled that Globalive did not meet this test. Therefore, one has to wonder who at Industry Canada allowed Globalive to enter the bidding fray in the first place?

Rather than pursue other options that would have upheld this important legislated requirement of wireless licence holders being “Canadian,” Stephen Harper simply took the advice his former senior adviser, and now paid lobbyist for Globalive, Ken

As reported in The Toronto Sun: “The government’s decision to overrule the CRTC came after Ken Boessenkool met with the chief of staff, the director of policy and then the policy adviser at Industry Canada. He also met with Sean Speer, a policy adviser for the Prime Minister’s Office.”

Harper’s decision to summarily overrule the CRTC, as lobbied for by Boessenkool may have been the optimal outcome for Globalive’s Egyptian controlling shareholders, but it is far from the optimal outcome for Canadians taxpayers.

By running roughshod over the CRTC’s ruling, the Harper government is running roughshod over Canadian taxpayers and all those in the industry who bid on this licence, including those who would have bid, had they known that the Harper government
was prepared to turn a complete blind eye to the nationality of the winning bidder.

Had Sprint/Nextel or Verizon or any number of other foreign wireless companies known that this licence was going to be available to foreigners, at the end of the day, you would have seen this auction generate tens, if not hundreds of millions more in the way of proceeds for Canadians taxpayers.

Instead the resolution of this matter took place behind closed doors in an exercise of self-interest on the part of Globalive and its lobbyist, and Industry Canada who were probably anxious to bury their gross error and oversight of allowing Globalive to bid in the first place.

Vastly more elegant solutions to solving this problem exist that would ensure taxpayers receive full value for this valuable wireless spectrum, without forsaking the benefits of increased competition via the arrival of a new entrant.

As with all things in life, due process in everything. In this case a flawed process gave rise to a sub-optimal outcome for taxpayers by Industry Canada and its minister (Tony Clement) whose responsibility when auctioning off finite resources should be ensuring that Canadian taxpayers receive “full value for service” for their wireless spectrum. To quote the oft-used phraseology of Canada’s Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty. Instead the Harper government resorted to political expediency in covering up mistakes of having allowed an unqualified bidder to participate, providing that bidder with an unfair advantage that translated into foregone auction proceeds for taxpayers.

Brent Fullard is the executive managing director of Toronto-based Catalyst Asset Management Inc. and intervened in 2008 before the CRTC and the Supreme Court of Canada to oppose the leveraged buyout of BCE, believing that transaction to be contrary to the interests of all Canadians.


Dr Mike said...

Well isn`t that just another fine "how do you do".

The PM goes "ppppffffftttttt" to the Canadian public one more time to help out another corporate buddy.

It`s no wonder he wanted all trusts booted to hell`s half creation & turn them corporate , as that way he will have a bucket load more buddies to play with.

Again , Canadian investors & taxpayers be damned.

Dr Mike Popovich

PS---this guy will continue to operate unfettered until the people get a wise thought & tell him to give us back our country & make it perfectly clear to him that his vision is not ours.

St. Catharines, Ontario said...

Government Funding / Research Scandal
(**Updated March 15th** - Participants)

Visit the website that the Canadian House of Commons and many Universities across North America have as well.

It's an ingenious form of white collar crime:

PHD credentials / contacts, an expendable family, participation of a dubious core of established professionals, Government agency funding (identity protected by Privacy Commissioner Office), unlimited funding (under the guise of research grants), PHD individuals linked with the patient (deter liability issues), patient diagnosed with mental illness (hospital committed events = no legal lawyer access/rights), cooperation of local University and police (resources and security); note the Director of Brock Campus Security.

This all adds up to a personal ATM; at the expense of Canadian Taxpayers!

Medicine Gone Bad


crf said...

Three Cheers to you Brent!
It's consise, factual, and demonstrative of Harper's governming style.

Readers may wish to read CAITI-ONLINE's earlier post on this issue.

I still think this decision is going to engender lawsuits from many Companies who chose not to participate in the auction, or that would have had different strategies, if they knew that Harper was not going to enforce the law about Canadian ownership.

So not only was it likely that the best price for the spectrum was not offered, costing the government money, lawsuits are still a possibility, which would cost the government even more.