Concerns related to possible rate increases have resulted in some local apprehension regarding Bell Canada’s purchase of MTS.
"I think it’s too big a corporation and prices will go up," said Terry Teetaert — one of several people who responded to the Brandon Sun’s random survey of people in the city’s downtown core on Tuesday.
"The most money wins, what can you do?" said a respondent who answered only to the name Dave. "It doesn’t matter what I think, the most money wins."
While Brent Campbell said that he’s ambivalent about the whole thing, he suggested that it’s safe to say rates won’t exactly go down.
On Tuesday, the CRTC approved the transfer of the MTS broadcasting licence to Bell Canada, propelling the $3.9-billion purchase even closer to its anticipated early 2017 close.
Bell Canada, based in Montreal, would pull the corporation out of its Manitoba base, which respondent Priscilla Williams cited as less than ideal for the local economy.
Brandon’s own Manitoba NDP provincial council member, Lonnie Patterson, shares in this sentiment, noting that she’s concerned about the security of MTS jobs in Brandon.
While Bell Canada plans to centre its western Canadian headquarters in Winnipeg, there isn’t a clear picture as to what will become of the positions currently located in the Wheat City.
As for Bell Canada’s promise to invest $1 billion in infrastructure improvements, Patterson questions their commitment to rural Manitoba.
"Companies tend to not invest in infrastructure if there isn’t a solid business case for it, so for some of our smaller remote communities, the population size may not provide that business case," she suggested.
Even so, Patterson guards against expressing too strong an opinion at this stage, since she — and everyone else — still has more questions than answers.
Brandon East Progressive Conservative MLA Len Isleifson is less ambivalent about his take on Bell Canada’s commitment to Manitoba, citing the deal as "fantastic."
While MTS hasn’t been a Crown corporation since the late ’90s, Isleifson clarified that the Manitoba government has offered its support for Bell Canada’s intentions.
"It’s good for the province, and at the same time the services they’re going to provide over the years will have a positive impact on Brandon," he said. "It’s a private investment coming into Manitoba … so it’s a really good idea."
Any investment in infrastructure is a good thing, Isleifson added, citing a few cellular dead zones in Westman that merit attention.
"If you’re looking at a company that’s coming in and is going to spend an extra $1 billion, there is going to be a return on investment," he said. "I think we just need to be fair and see what’s going to happen."
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB
Question: Do you support Bell Canada’s purchase of MTS?
• Sheldon O’Neill — "I would prefer for it to stay more localized in the province."
• Stacey Brandon — "I’m not too sure … It’ll probably be about the same thing."
• Wally Bidonski — "It doesn’t matter to me."
• Priscilla Williams — "I don’t think so, because MTS is a Manitoba-based company."
• Tony Whitford — "That’s all right, I guess."
• Brent Campbell — "I’m kind of ambivalent about it."