In taking his cue from North Bay Mayor Al McDonald, Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Jay Aspin has filed a request to the federal competition commissioner to review the sale of Ontera by the provincial government to Bell Aliant.
More than 40 unionized positions are being chopped at the former telcom arm of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC). The final closing date of the sale is believed be Aug. 1 though no date has been made public.
Ontera is the only business unit of the five divisions of the ONTC that’s being divested by the Wynne government.
North Bay city council wants the sale of Ontera to be stopped or stalled.
“Our competition laws are very clear,” said MP Jay Aspin in a statement. “Whenever a merger or sale may result in a substantial reduction of competition in an industry it is necessary to review the deal. While the sale of Ontera may not be significant with respect to the telecommunications industry in Ontario-at-large, the explicit effect will be that our region will go from having an open-access network that promotes competition and supports lower prices for consumers to a monopoly overnight.
Competition will be reduced, prices will increase and more jobs will be lost.
A July 16 release from Aspin’s office said the competition commissioner can review any proposed merger through a tribunal. If the tribunal finds that the merger would substantially reduce competition, it may prohibit the merger from proceeding.