Ministers Warn of ‘Waning Trust’ in CRTC in Letter to New Chair

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne on Monday sent a letter to new Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) chair and CEO Vicky Eatrides, congratulating her on her appointment and outlining the government’s vision and priorities for Canada’s telecommunications and broadcasting sectors.

Eatrides started her five-year term last month, replacing replaces Ian Scott as head of the CRTC. While her predecessor’s tenure was called “disastrous for public confidence” in the regulator by one telecom expert, Eatrides said in a recent interview that she is “very focused on competition.”

The new CRTC chair is an expert in federal regulatory law and a career enforcer of pro-competition policies. However, Ministers Rodriguez and Champagne highlighted in their letter that public confidence in the CRTC has been dwindling as of late.

“Unfortunately, our sense is that public confidence and trust in the CRTC has waned in recent years,” they wrote, continuing:

Over the course of our mandates, we have spoken and engaged with Canadians, parliamentarians, stakeholders, academics, and civil society on their experiences with, and perceptions of, the CRTC. While there is broad and strong support for an independent and effective CRTC, we consistently heard that the organization falls short in three areas:

  1. Timeliness of decision making
  2. Accessibility of CRTC processes to the public, non-corporate interest groups, and civil society
  3. Openness and transparency

According to the feds, there is a perception that the CRTC takes too long to make decisions. The letter urged Eatrides to accelerate decision-making at the CRTC while maintaining fair and equal processes.

Peter Nowak, Vice President of Insight & Engagement at independent internet provider TekSavvy, pointed out that the federal government is urging Eatrides to make quicker decisions while Ottawa is still yet to finalize its telecom policy direction.

The letter to Eatrides outlined the federal government’s agenda for both telecommunications and digital media, also touching on the controversial Bills C-11 (the Online Streaming Act) and C-18 (the Online News Act).

“Together, the proposed Online Streaming ActOnline News Act, and Digital Charter Implementation Act, as well as a future legislation on online safety, represent core pillars of our digital policy agenda.”

Click here to read the full text of the letter.