Rogers iPhone plan: a rip-off

Today, Rogers released its data plans for the Apple iPhone in Canada. Consumers will remember that the iPhone was released over a year ago in California and only is now available in Canada with the second-generation version of the iPod/Safari/phone device that now works on the faster 3G network.

The phone is able to connect to the Apple iTunes store and download music, movies, television shows and podcasts over the Rogers network. A fully-functional mobile version of Apple’s Safari web browser also allows users to connect to any website and one can even access flash video via Youtube. AT&T is the official US carrier of the iPhone while Rogers has the exclusive distinction in this country.

Here are the details of the Rogers plan in Canada:

Courtesy: Globe and Mail

If you access the Rogers website, you can see that a blackberry plan that includes 150 minutes and unlimited evenings and weekends costs $45 per month (with 4MB data). The base iPhone plan includes the same voice minutes and 400MB for $60.

However, let’s look at the AT&T website. Adding data to any voice plan costs $30 (or just $35 on its own). Plus data is unlimited (it’s not even capped at the highest Rogers allowance at 2GB).

If I wanted to download five movies a month to my iPhone (2.5 GB data), in the US this would cost me $35 per month in data transfer and I’d still have unlimited data to download 5,10 or 50 more movies if I wanted to get more. In Canada, I’d have to buy the hardly unlimited plan of 2GB for $115 and I’d pay overages on the extra 500MB. Most US customers will pay $40 voice and $30 data per month, still $45 per month shy of the capped maximum Canadian iPhone plan from Rogers.

When the iPhone was to be released in Canada, we had hope that Rogers would finally offer an unlimited data plan to smartphone and Blackberry users. Rogers has fallen far short of these expectations.

Note to Industry Canada: the panel on competitiveness released their recommendations to the Minister yesterday. In Canada, further deregulation, greater spectrum access, Bell and Telus accessing GSM streams, easier access for mobile startups, and greater foreign investment would decrease the iPhone competitive gap that currently rests at (by my calculations above) at $80 at most and $45 at least per month between Canadian and American carriers of the same product.

Note to Rogers: Stop gouging customers. The borders are opening to competition, especially on a product that is part of the new economy (data transfer and products see no borders). Canada’s government is open to leveling the playing filed and fostering increased competition and this lack of market agility on your part shows lawmakers what’s wrong with the system. Consider too that AT&T is also subsidizing $325 per iPhone for their customers because they know this will increase ARPU (average revenue per user) through product loyalty and use. Rogers may be in fact offering the same subsidy for customers since the phone unit is competitively priced. Despite this, AT&T is showing that in the American market they are offering competitive prices in order to offer this product to new customers. Rogers needs to catch up and close this gap or the government should increase our country’s competitiveness in the wireless market.

Sandra Buckler resigns as Director of Communications

Sandra Buckler, Stephen Harper\'s Director of CommunicationsToday, Sandra Buckler informed her friends and colleagues that she’ll be leaving the Prime Minister’s office as Director of Communications.

Buckler started with the PMO shortly after the Conservatives took power in February 2006 and has served the PM for 28 months. She served in the Conservative war-room during the election and was one of the most effective communicators during that time. Her skills impressed Stephen Harper and the Prime-Minister-elect hired her on as his Comms boss.

In her role as one of Harper’s senior advisers, she often butted heads with members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery as the Prime Minister sought to define his communications style as disciplined and focused in contrast to Paul Martin’s frantic and chaotic style. Her departure comes as the PM’s new chief of staff Guy Giorno takes the helm in Langevin.

A moderate shuffle among senior staff is expected under the new boss and Buckler’s departure comes after two and one half years in government. The departure of Harper’s departing chief of staff Ian Brodie indicates a major reconfiguration has been in the works at the highest levels of government and Giorno and the new DComm will seek to put their own mark on upper management.

Sandra has earned a well-deserved rest. Best wishes and a job well done.

Cabinet to change tomorrow

I just received this email from PMO:

What can we learn from this?

New cabinet ministers. Backbenchers/PSs/SecStates (more than one) getting promoted. That’s how I read the email.

The Liberal Party and alleged trademark infringement

Last Thursday, on day behind schedule, the Liberal Party unveiled their “Green Shift” plan to caucus and to the national media. Liberal friends tell me that their leader finally gave the best performance of his career as party leader despite his later communications stumbles when asked to defend the plan on CBC’s National and The House.

The Liberals also launched a website at thegreenshift.ca to provide a location where Canadians could download their plan. I thought that the site was ripe for parody and a good-natured ribbing so I immediately registered theshiftygreen.ca and went to work creating a knock-off of their website from a humourous and cynical point of view. The site, uh, shifted focus from the lofty and abstract environmental claims of the “Green Shift” plan to what it really is, a fiscal outline of the Liberal’s election platform. The site included the blog of Stephane Dion’s new dog “Revenue Neutred” and encouraged Canadians to submit their emails and “sign up for behaviour modification”. The site was quite successful and captured the attention of the Toronto Star, National Newswatch and the blogging community.

There was one slight snag, however. In knocking-off the Liberal website, I neglected to “knock-off” the Liberal logo enough to satisfy the legal concerns of the Liberal Party. I received a call from their lawyer letting me know that my use of their logo poses trademark concerns and we very amicably agreed that the solution to their dilemma would be to create a derivative work of their logo. I received the following email to confirm the conversation.

The telephone call was a nice courtesy from the Liberals and I recognized that I may have been in error and I set out to create a different version of their logo to compliment the site. Here is the original:

and the changed version:

I even called the lawyer back to confirm that the logo was changed enough to satisfy their requirements. He assured me that the logo was different enough from the Liberal brand and thanked me for the cooperation. He joked that he even laughs and encourages his own team to do similar parodies of Conservatives when the opportunity arises.

Now, I read with great interest that the Liberal Party is in a trademark snafu of their own. Apparently, the term “Green Shift” belongs to a Toronto-based company that is:

“Developing a looping support network of Responsible, Ethical Companies in order to Shift us into a world where capitalism is more in harmony with nature, and where success is defined by more than greed.”

Here is the trademark registration of “Green Shift”

The company has complained,

“For us to take this further (against the Liberals), it’s a David and Goliath problem,” Wright said. “We’re fine on our own, without any political affiliation. We’ve done everything to build our name on trust and integrity.”

Stephane Dion’s communications director Mark Dunn said of the “Green Shift” name use,

“A courtesy call was made last Monday in advance of (the) launch to let them know they might get increased traffic”

Those Liberals are so courteous, don’t you think? First they call me to let me know that I’ve allegedly run afoul of their trademark rights (I complied immediately), and now the Liberals aren’t budging when someone else comes calling protesting the allegedly inappropriate use of their brand.

A Liberal spokesman discounted the company’s protests that the Liberals mimicked Green Shift’s web domain name, by adding the article “the” before Greenshift.ca.

“We rightly own the domain name,” said Dunn. “We are not a commercial threat to the company. The content of our site is about policy, not products.”

While one site is about products and one site is about policy, both sites are about the environment. The Liberals would have a better defence (but it would still be faulty) if they argued that the “green” in “green shift” referred to hard-earned money earned by families that drive their kids to soccer practice rather than a reference to environmental sustainability.

The Liberals should promptly and cooperatively comply with the concerns of Green Shift Inc.

PMO pushes, CTV pushes back, and I give a small shove for good measure

From Susan Delacourt’s blog:

Yesterday, at the end of CTV’s Question Period broadcast, there was some strong and remarkable evidence of journalists pushing back against the Prime Minister’s Office. Rather than explain the story, why don’t I just put the transcript here? I would imagine we’ll be hearing more about this in the days to come:

JANE TABER: Craig, we’ve got to address a complaint. We received a complaint from the Prime Minister’s director of communications Sandra Buckler about something you said on the show about the fact the Environment Minister or the Finance Minister would not come on to talk about Dion’s green plan.

CRAIG OLIVER: And it was accurate for me to say they had both turned us down. However, they did offer us Jason Kenney, the Minister of Multiculturalism, to attack the government’s green plan, and we said, sorry, we’re not talking about multiculturalism, we’re talking about taxation or we’re talking about environment. And so they’re insisting that we should take their person. And the question really is who’s producing the show? Are we producing the show or is the Prime Minister’s office producing the show? Would somebody tell me?

First Jason Kenney gets rebuffed by CTV and then Craig Oliver mistakes the Liberals for the government (and Stephane Dion as the Prime Minister by extension)

ADDENDUM: Why wouldn’t Jason Kenney be permitted to speak for the government? After all, he was the first one quoted on the Conservative “Will You Be Tricked” ad campaign in Sun Media. He’s been quoted in just about every Conservative Party press release attacking Dion’s Tax Shift plan. Kenney has also been the government point man in QP answering all of the questions put forward by the Liberals on the topic of the environment during this latest Tax Trick/Green Shift arc. Kenney also had a press conference at the National Press Theatre to give the government’s reaction to Dion’s plan. It sets a horrible precedent for journalists to choose who can respond on behalf of the government.

My question for John McCain

Senator McCain initially jokes that he’s non-committal on making Canada his first foreign visit, however, he followed this up with the following,

“Certainly, I think that that [first POTUS foreign trip to Canada] is a precedent that there’s every argument to follow that”

“I think it was very appropriate that both President Reagan and President Clinton took a trip to Canada before they took any foreign travel.”

— Senator John McCain

Senator McCain’s visit to Canada as a presumptive nominee for President is unprecedented in history. Before yesterday, no other such candidate for President, Democrat or Republican, has come to Canada during an election cycle.

I wanted to ask a question that was simple, and had the potential for headlines. I believe that McCain’s answer to my question indicates that he sees no reason not to follow the precedents set by Presidents Clinton and Reagan to make Canada his first foreign visit.

Three reporters focused on NAFTA-related stories even after McCain mentioned that he would not address the red meat of the NAFTA-leak story that many Canadian national reporters were after. I felt that these questions were guaranteed to provide non-answers.

Another question regarding Omar Khadr was important and elicited a somewhat uncomfortable shift of burden upon the Canadian government; McCain had mentioned his policy to shut down Guantanamo Bay as a detention facility but may have put Foreign Affairs on guard when he mentioned that Canada has not actually sought to intervene for Khadr.

I felt that Global reporter Ben O’hara-byrne’s question elicited one of the more interesting exchanges as Senator McCain formulated his own on-the-spot policy regarding the exportation of Canadian water and water-security. McCain indicated that it was not a strategy that he would likely be supporting.

John McCain’s remarks today in Ottawa

Thank you all very much. I appreciate the warm welcome to Ottawa, and the hospitality of the Economic Club of Toronto. The reputation of the Economic Club as a place for serious discussion of policy is well known in America, and I am honored by your invitation. There aren’t any electoral votes to be won up here in the middle of a presidential election. But there are many shared interests that require our attention today, and many Canadians here I am proud to call friends.

If you’ve been following the presidential election, you’ve probably noticed that Canada comes up for discussion quite a bit these days. And this is as it should be — because no other nation shares so many ties with the United States. And today the strength of that partnership is more vital than ever. The economic community we have founded, together with our alliance and the values we hold in common, have served our people for decades, and served us well. It will fall to the next president to strengthen these ties still further, adding to the security and prosperity of all of North America.

We in the United States are very lucky, in a way that’s easy to take for granted. We are surrounded by two great oceans, and by two nations we count as friends. Think of the fate of other nations, and how much of their histories have been shaped by hostile neighbors. Generation after generation, they live in fear, resentment, and competition harmful to the interests of all. Lost in rivalry and distrust are the advantages of regional friendship and stability. What a blessing it is for the United States to have in Canada a neighbor we fear only on ice rinks and baseball diamonds.

The best American statesmen have always understood that Canada is not some adjunct to America. We are firm and fast friends. We are allies, partners in success and adversity alike, and a great deal depends on preserving that unity.

Trade is just a part of what unites us, but a very important part. Last year alone, we exchanged some 560 billion dollars in goods, and Canada is the leading export market for 36 of the 50 United States. This country stands as America’s leading overall export market, and America is Canada’s leading agricultural market. With 60 percent of all direct foreign investment in Canada originating in the United States — some 289 billion dollars in 2007 — our economies draw strength from one another.

A prosperous Canada means a more dynamic and resilient American economy. There are areas where the United States can learn a great deal from your experience. Beginning in 1995, Canada did the hard work to put its fiscal house in order. You reduced spending and brought the budget from deficit to surplus. However, unlike your free-spending neighbor to the south, Canada continued to run budget surpluses even while cutting its corporate and personal tax rates. Lower taxes and spending restraint is a philosophy we should import from Canada.

Our common interests extend to other pursuits as well. The future of our environment, the flows of our energy, and the security of nations — all of these are aided by the close relations forged by our predecessors in Ottawa and Washington. And if I have anything to say about it after January of next year, America is going to expand these ties of friendship and cooperation between our two nations.

At the forefront of our minds, in these years since the Millennium Plot and the events of 9/11, is the security of our citizens. Our governments have made real progress in keeping our borders closed to terrorists and open to trade. Yet this will remain an ongoing challenge and a key issue for the next American administration. Tens of millions of people and vehicles cross the Canadian-American border every year. The two-way trade that crosses the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor equals all American exports to Japan. That transit, and all our crossing points, must remain secure. In extending our security partnership, we can ensure continued flows of people and commerce while maintaining security on which these very flows depend. We need to do an even better job of managing the regular traffic across our border.

Already, we cooperate in preparing for emergencies — exchanging information and manpower to coordinate our response to danger. We have agreements in place to work together in detecting radiological and nuclear threats, to improve security at ports, borders, and airports, and to assist first responders. We exchange public health officers and have agreed on principles for screening intercontinental air travelers in the event of a pandemic. In all of this, we are drawing upon the skills and knowledge of one another, and we are joined in the crucial work of protecting our people.

At the same time, Canada and America are joined in other vital causes around the world — from the fight against nuclear proliferation to the fight against global warming, from the fight for justice in Haiti to the fight for democracy in Afghanistan. I, for one, will never forget the response of our Canadian friends to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It was here in Ottawa, three days later, where tens of thousands of Canadians filled the streets on a National Day of Mourning. The Canadian people even took in Americans who has been left stranded by the shutdown of American air space. We in America have not forgotten your kindness. And we will never forget the solidarity, compassion, and friendship of Canada when it mattered most.

We know as well that Canada, too, has suffered casualties in the years since 9/11, and we honor their memory as we do our own. As always in Canada’s history, this nation has been willing to do hard things, even when the costs run high. Along with our other allies, Canada and America are still fighting in defense of Afghanistan — in the honorable cause of freedom for that long suffering country, and greater security for ourselves. To date, Canada has committed nearly two billion dollars to the rebuilding of Afghanistan, including a recent 50% increase at the Paris Conference. It is a generous investment, and a wise one, and together our countries are going to see this mission through.

Even in Iraq, where Canada has not always agreed with American policies, this nation has done all that those differences would allow to help the Iraqi people. In characteristic form, Canada has given generous humanitarian aid and development assistance. And your government has provided more than 770 million in combined assistance and debt relief to Iraq, helping a struggling young democracy at a critical time.

It’s the mark of good friends that they’re willing to correct you, and to do so without rancor. Many Canadians have objected to the policies of the United States in dealing with terrorists, and with enemy combatants held at the Guantanamo prison. It happens that I also regard the prison at Guantanamo as a liability in the cause against violent radical extremism, and as president I would close it. I intend as well to listen carefully when close allies offer their counsel. And even when they don’t volunteer their advice, I’ll ask for it and seek it out.

We’re going to need that spirit in many efforts. We have a shared destiny, Canada and the United States. We are both continental powers, nations shaped by our diverse heritage and our frontier experience. We are also both Arctic nations. And because of this common geography, we must be acutely aware of the perils posed by global warming and take immediate steps to reverse its effects.

Three years ago, I traveled with some colleagues, including Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Lindsey Graham, to Yukon territory, a front line of global warming. We flew over miles of devastated spruce forests, every tree killed by insects that thrive in warm temperatures. As the trees die, fires multiply, and across the region the waters are vanishing. We heard from men and women near Whitehorse whose traditional way of life had been radically disrupted.

All of this is just a glimpse of the grave environmental dangers that global warming can bring, unless we act to prevent it. I was among the first in Congress to introduce legislation to curb greenhouse gasses. If I am elected president, it will be a top priority to enact an energy policy equal to this challenge. A sensible cap-and-trade emissions system, for instance, is a critical part of such a policy. Under U.S. and Canadian leadership, the Montreal Protocol began the process of phasing out gases that were destroying our planet’s ozone layer. That cap-and-trade system removed the threat of acid rain. I believe we can apply it to great effect against the threat of climate change. And here, too, Canada and America can work in common purpose against common dangers.

We must also work to ensure reliable energy supplies and increase sources of renewable energy. As you all know, Canada is America’s largest energy supplier. Not only does Canada have the second largest proven oil reserves in the world, 60 percent of the energy produced in Canada is hydroelectric, clean energy. We stand much to gain by harmonizing our energy policies, just as have gained by cooperating in trade through NAFTA. Since NAFTA was concluded, it has contributed to strong job growth and flourishing trade. Since the agreement was signed, the United States has added 25 million jobs and Canada more than 4 million. Cross-border trade has more than doubled since NAFTA came into force. We have established North America as the world’s largest economic market and the integration of our economies has led to greater competitiveness of American and Canadian businesses. Because of our common market, our workers are better able to compete, and to find opportunities of their own in the global economy.

There is still more work to do. Complying with NAFTA’s rules of origin can be cumbersome and costly. Border delays can pose a serious impediment to trade, the equivalent of a tariff. And even now, for all the successes of NAFTA, we have to defend it without equivocation in political debate, because it is critical to the future of so many Canadian and American workers and businesses. Demanding unilateral changes and threatening to abrogate an agreement that has increased trade and prosperity is nothing more than retreating behind protectionist walls. If I am elected president, have no doubt that America will honor its international commitments — and we will expect the same of others. We will strengthen and extend the open and rules-based international trading system. I aspire to lead a proud, outward-looking America that deepens its partnerships throughout the hemisphere and the world.

Long before NAFTA, America received one of its most valuable exports from Canada in the form of a great statesman, Dean Acheson. He was descended from a great Canadian distilling family and a man who knew Canada well. As secretary of state, Acheson liked to drop by the home of his great friend Hume Wrong, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, for consultation and advice over a quiet drink. As I said, Acheson came from a distilling family.

The relationship was not always smooth. But it was productive. Canada and the United States together gave generously for the reconstruction of Europe. And together, too, we helped to forge the new trading system that restored the prosperity of the world after a terrible war.

We’ve been through an awful lot together, Canada and America, and together we have achieved great things. We have a long shared history to draw from, and deep reserves of good will and mutual admiration. I thank you for all that you have done to advance one of the finest friendships between any two nations in the world today. I thank you for the conviction and clarity you bring to that work ahead for our two nations. And I thank you all for you kind attention here today.

John McCain will do a media avail this Friday

Some reporter friends of mine have been speculating as to whether presumptive Republican nominee for President John McCain will take questions after his speech on Friday at the Chateau Laurier. I just received this from the McCain campaign:

MEDIA ADVISORY
John McCain Travels to Canada

For Immediate Release

Contact: Press Office

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

703-XXX-XXXX

ARLINGTON, VA — U.S. Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign today announced that John McCain will visit Ottawa, Canada on Friday, June 20th.

Friday, June 20, 2008

OTTAWA, CANADA

WHO: John McCain

WHAT: Speech hosted by the Economic Club of Toronto

WHEN: Friday, June 20, 2008 at 1:00 p.m. EDT

*Please Note This event is not open to the general public.

WHERE: The Chateau Laurier
Grand Ballroom
1 Rideau Street
Ottawa, Canada K1N 8S7

WHO: John McCain

WHAT: Media Availability

WHEN: Friday, June 20, 2008 at 1:40 p.m. EDT

WHERE: The Chateau Laurier
Laurier Room
1 Rideau Street
Ottawa, Canada K1N 8S7

###

Double standard at the Globe and Mail?

In March of 2007, the Conservative Party of Canada held a training conference for its staff and campaign volunteers in Toronto. The conference was packed with seminars and panels designed to effectively educate Conservative Party activists on the best techniques known to win elections.

Six months later, Daniel Leblanc from the Globe and Mail got wind of a specific seminar at the conference that included information to optimize campaigning to reach out to multicultural groups for their votes.

Here is the above-the-fold front page story describing the Conservative strategy:

Click here to download the PDF of the front page
The opening paragraph of the story:

“Select ethnic and religious groups across Canada are being targeted by a previously unknown Conservative team that is bluntly gunning for votes in a bid to supplant the Liberals in multicultural ridings in the next election.”

Bluntly gunning for targeted minorities? Yeah… really.

Now, let’s move on to 2008. The blog Progress for Progressives describes a recent Liberal Party training course that the author had attended where… “targeting by ethnicity” is part of a seminar on voter contact.

Read this document on Scribd: Campaign Manager Training

Will we see alarmist headlines in the Globe and Mail? Who’s on it?

Leblanc? Laghi? Galloway? Anyone… anyone? Bueller?