Simply, it's a private business, and it's not up to Jack Layton to decide what is or isn't a fair price to charge for the service they provide. No one is forced to incur the catastrophic injustice of a $1.50 user fee; you can take money out at your own bank's machine, keep your money in a bank that doesn't charge user fees, or even in a box under your bed, for all I care. I know Jack would love to personally decide what is or isn't a fair price for all private goods and services, but, tragically, we can't send him back in time to the miraculous economic and social triumph of the Soviet Union...1) Once, just fucking once, I'd looooooove to see a Conservative engage an NDP proposal without the bogeyman of the Soviet Union. I mean, I could spend a day educating the Blogging Tories about how Social Democrats were historically just as opposed to Lenin as the rest of society (mainly because we were first in front of the firing squads) but the reality is it doesn't matter -- we're "left", ergo we must all yearn for the days of GOSPLAN and the Gulag Archipelago. Clearly.
(Note to Olaf: I've never compared Stephen Harper to Hitler, because aside from anything else it's innacurate and offensive. Try returning the courtesy.)
The sad thing is, Olaf really isn't the worst offender. He's making a joke, but his brethren see that argument as holy writ.
2) For clear social and historical reasons, banking has always, always, always been heavily regulated. There's a little thing called "usury", not to mention margin calls, fractional reserve rules, and the entire edifice of central banking that keeps the economy going. Banks are simply not allowed to charge too little interest or too much. And here's the kicker -- bankers love it that way. They get unchallenged power over money and the economy in exchange for some rules that they should probably have come up with on their own.
Meanwhile, the whole idea that the government has no role in prices is absurd. The government keeps tinkering with things like taxes, investment rules, competition law, in order to keep prices low for consumers. (In theory.) Why? Because consumers are also voters, and they like low prices. Savvy politicians do this thing called "pandering", and it's no surprise that Flaherty says he's taking this ATM thing seriously.
So how about this, people: if you think a tiny, teeny-weeny, fraction-of-a-percent change in the way banks do business is going to cause the collapse of capitalism in Canada, make your case in detail. Otherwise, stop embarrassing yourselves.