Confirmed: CRTC will repeal decision on UBB or Conservatives will do it for them

Some great news for opponents of usage-based billing by Canadian ISPs and fans of not getting screwed over — the federal Conservative Party has confirmed that they will either have the CRTC overturn the decision that allows UBB or they will use cabinet’s authority to overturn it themselves.

Fittingly enough, Industry Minister Tony Clement confirmed to the media via Twitter late Wednesday night that the government will move to overturn the decision. From The Globe and Mail:

He confirmed reports by The Globe and Mail and other media that the Tories were prepared to take this step.

“True. CRTC must go back to drawing board,” he tweeted after being asked if it was true the government would act “if the CRTC does not back down.”

Given this ultimatum from the Tories, the options facing the independent regulator are to reconsider the ruling of its own volition or see the cabinet use its power to reverse it.

Mr. Clement later defended his decision on Twitter, saying: “This is about forcing a single business model on all competitors. I’m for market choice.”

That means that all of the major federal political parties — the Bloc Quebecois notwithstanding, apparently offering no position on the issue — have spoken out against the CRTC ruling and UBB, meaning it will almost certainly be repealed by Parliament.

The question, then, is when will it be repealed? There will almost certainly be months of wrangling and red tape, so it’s hard to say how long consumers will have to abide by UBB policies in the meantime. It’s a start, at least, and I’m sure politicians will want to score brownie points with furious consumers who are speaking out in droves over the issue.

How big were those droves? Well, in addition to the “thousands” of complaints received by the CRTC over the issue and whatever action citizens have taken as individuals over UBB, OpenMedia.ca’s petition opposing UBB reached over a quarter million signatures on Wednesday, hitting 357,000 as of this writing. The petition has already become the largest online action in Canadian history.

It will be interesting to reflect in coming months how much of an impact the petition had on politicians, and see if this was a case of government actually listening to voters. I can’t remember the last time there was such an overwhelming groundswell of popular support for an issue manifested so strongly as this was, or the last time an issue managed to unite the usually antagonistic House of Commons. Certainly made Canadian politics feel relevant for a while.

Of course, this isn’t even close to the final word on usage-based billing, so keep reading Techvibes for further developments.