This could be one of those rare throne speeches that captures widespread interest from the public — after all, much of it will be aimed at everyday consumer irritants.
Anyone who subscribes to cable television, for example, knows that you have to take a whole lot of channels you may never look at just to get the few you’re that are of interest.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pick and pay for only the ones you want?
Then there is the practice of airlines to routinely overbook flights, and then turn away passengers — even those with legitimate tickets — when the flight is full.
Wouldn’t it be great if this were made illegal?
Industry Minister James Moore hasn’t come out and said the federal government will make these nice things come true. But he does say he understand concerns about a long list of complaints that also includes roaming fees and bank fees.
Will the Conservatives clamp down on big businesses and make consumers happy? They claim to be the party of the middle class, and we’ll get an idea of just how serious they are when the throne speech is delivered today.
But before we get too excited, it should be remembered that big businesses already cater to consumers — even if it seems like they don’t.
For example, those bundled TV stations might actually make cable subscriptions cheaper.
Paying for less popular channels helps defray the cost of those that are more popular. If we had to pay for popular channels individually, the total might be more.
And those overbooked flights? If airlines had to live with more undersold flights, they might raise prices of all flights to make up the difference.
We’ve already seen how government meddling in the free market can have unintended consequences.
Consumers were fed up with three-year contracts for their cellphones, so with a little nudging from regulators we now have two-year contracts. The consequence? The up-front cost of phones has gone up and we wind up paying about the same overall.
In the end, about the best the Conservatives can hope to do is make things more fair for consumers. And maybe that will be enough for many of us. Unfortunately, we’ll likely be paying just as much as ever.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.