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Cell phone calculator tool pulled

The Canadian government’s decision to drop an online cell phone plan calculator has been described as ‘purely political’, with Industry Canada refuting the government’s claim that the idea was dropped because it failed to work.

The government had spent up to as much as $1.4 million over the course of the last three years in order to develop the online calculator, which enables consumers to be able to compare cell phone plans that have been tailored to their individual patterns of usage.  Only for then-industry minister Tony Clement to kill the initiative just prior to its scheduled launch three years ago, back in 2009.  His spokesman at the time claimed that it was dropped because it had “inaccurate” information that would have been “irresponsible” to launch.

Internal records from the department’s Office of Consumer Records, however, which have been released after a long delay under access to information laws, show a very different view that defended the calculator against what appears to have been a lobby campaign from industry giants.

The calculator was also tested by Public Interest Advocacy Centre lawyer John Lawford, who on Friday stated unequivocally that the calculator “worked fantastically”.  The real reason the calculator was killed, Lawford suggests, is that the discount brands “were always at the top, and the main plans… were way at the bottom because they were more expensive”.  Lawford says he has no doubt that the reasons the calculator was dropped were “purely political”.