Do-Not-Hesitate-to-Call is in the Senate

5 Nov ’05

The Do-Not-Call legislation is in the Senate and will be reviewed by the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. Michael Geist (who has aptly called it Do-Not-Hesitate-to-Call) has expressed some hope that the Senate might restore some balance. After this speech by Senator Tkachuk, I’m not so sure:

It is not just a simple matter. When this decision is made, it will mean that a particular organization or a business that has many employees who depend on telemarketing for their livelihood all of a sudden will be out of business and will have to find other ways to go to the consumer, perhaps door to door.

The thing about the marketplace is that a business will find a way to get its product to the consumer. If they cannot do it by telephone, perhaps they will be knocking on your door instead or perhaps filling your mailbox with direct marketing material using paper products from our forest industry.

It appears that the House of Commons committee studying this bill only called the Direct Marketing Association as a witness, which is the association that I belonged to before I became a senator. I was in the direct marketing business.

I was in the direct mail and telemarketing business, so I know a little bit about what I speak. It is strange that they were the only organization called as a witness and that other businesses and organizations were not.

A number of businesses like charities, political parties and pollsters were exempted from this list. I would like to find out what the rationale was for the exemption. I hope that our committee will call witnesses to that effect and will find out why these groups were exempted and others were not allowed to conduct business on the telephone without the threat of being put on do not call registry.

Individuals make their telephone numbers public. The reason businesses are able to phone them is because their phone numbers are in the phone book. Their numbers are in the phone book so that people can call them if they wish to reach them about something, and then they get angry if they are called.

I had a private listing for some time, so I never received any calls. A couple of years ago I decided that I did not want to pay the $2 a month, so my number is now in the phone book. I suppose there are people who do receive a lot of phone calls, but I do not get many.

“I suppose”.

“I suppose”.

If the House had heard from the great unwashed, you wouldn’t have to “suppose”, Senator. Which would, I suppose, be a rather novel approach to legislating … knowing beforehand, that is.

The rhetorical sleight-of-hand (if not this, then surely it will be worse for the consumer – Imagine! Door to door! Your doorbell ringing constantly!) is clumsy and obvious, but telling. It is perhaps fortunate that the Senator, who believes that the best way to keep ourselves hidden from telemarketers is to pay to keep ourselves hidden from the entire world, and who at least pretends to his colleagues not to know of the technology used by telemarketers (when exactly were you in the Industry – 1935?), and whose greatest sympathy seems to go out to all of the lobbyists who were not heard in the House, will not be on the Committee.

But I am assuming, quite probably entirely incorrectly, that any of this will have an impact on the Bill.

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