They came by the busload to Port Moody as part of the latest salvo in the fight over the future of the telecommunications industry in Canada.
A reported 500 Telus employees stopped by local MP James Moore's constituency office on St. Johns Street Thursday morning to drop off petitions and voice their concern over an upcoming wireless spectrum auction that will see an American company get the opportunity to offer a bid.
More specifically, the communications company is upset at the federal government for allowing Verizon, a U.S. telecom company, to be the lone bid on two of the four blocks of spectrum being made available.
This would force Canadian companies like Telus to fight over the two remaining blocks, likely leaving some out in the cold, the company argued.
"[It's] a foreign company getting a two-for-one advantage over Canadian firms and that's just not right," said Telus spokesman Shawn Hall.
"All we're saying is put us on an equal footing with them."
He noted Telus welcomes the competition, but suggested the current course of the federal government will cost Canadian jobs and investment in rural areas.
Hall explained the spectrum, which is being offered in the 700-megahertz range, is prime space the company needs to meet the demand for wireless service by its customers.
The company is hoping to persuade the federal government and Industry Canada Minister Moore to give the plan a second thought.
Hall also said the point of Thursday's event is to get the local MP to understand that the several hundred Telus employees living in his riding don't believe he's representing their interest in Ottawa. Jennifer Connors was one of the Telus employees collecting the petitions to give to Moore.
She lives in Port Moody and noted 600 Telus employees live in the Tri-Cities. "We're hoping we'll change his [Moore's] mind, or at least change some policies that allow it to be more of a level playing field for the Canadian companies," Connors told the Tri-Cities NOW.
She said employees are worried about the Canadian telecommunications industry if a U.S. company comes up, suggesting a company like Verizon has deep pockets and can do a lot of its work south of the border.
Debbie Oster, another Port Moody Telus employee, said she hopes the group's presence at Moore's office will let the MP know how serious of a concern the issue is for his constituents.
"I hope it delivers the message," she said.
Oster said she's OK with competition from the American company, but doesn't want them to get preferential treatment.
During a brief interview with the Tri-Cities NOW Tuesday prior to the Telus rally, Moore said he's traveling across the country to make sure the government's policy is well understood.
"That Canadians know that our government is standing up for individual consumers," he said.
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