January 23, 2017 2 years 9 months ago

Federal government going on a CRTC hiring spree (Update #2: Deadline extended again)

Posting makes it highly unlikely chairman Blais will be retained

OTTAWA – January 23rd, the federal government made public a slew of Governor-in-Council appointment vacancies, including four at the CRTC.

While many, us included, had been postulating (apparently incorrectly, as it turns out) that CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais would have his term extended beyond his current five-year mandate which ends June 17th of this year, the fact his job is now publicly posted as open to applicants would seem to bring to an end his reign atop the Regulator – unless of course he reapplies.

It also confirmed that his speech to the International Institute of Communications in November really could be viewed as an acidic adieu, a topic which he referenced in our interview with him then.

Also now posted are the other commissioner vacancies, too. The government is seeking candidates for Ontario regional commissioner (formerly held by Raj Shoan, who was dismissed in 2016 after a nasty public battle between he and chairman Blais and others at the Commission, some of which is still before the courts); Manitoba and Saskatchewan regional commissioner (former commissioner Candice Molnar’s term expired earlier this month); and for a new vice-chair broadcasting. That job posting confirms current vice-chair Judith LaRocque really is just a six-month temporary VC brought in to help steer the broadcasters’ license renewal hearing in November, unless of course she reapplies.

With these four appointments, the federal government and Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly will certainly be able to put their stamp on the Commission – in advance of her tasking it to usher in whatever legislative, cabinet decrees or policy changes which are surely to come from her investigation into Canadian content in a digital age. She will next speak to that topic next week at the CMPA’s Prime Time in Ottawa conference.

While the custom over the years has been to alternate the CRTC chair between an Anglophone and a Francophone with each posting (meaning an Anglo would be in line to succeed Blais), the federal government has signaled to many in Ottawa that it may not follow that tradition this time around as it seeks a more transparent GIC appointment process.

In fact, the preamble to all of the postings say: “We know that our country is stronger — and our government more effective — when decision-makers reflect Canada’s diversity. Moving forward, the Government of Canada will use an appointment process that is transparent and merit-based, strives for gender parity, and ensures that Indigenous Canadians and minority groups are properly represented in positions of leadership. We will continue to search for Canadians who reflect the values that we all embrace: inclusion, honesty, fiscal prudence, and generosity of spirit. Together, we will build a government as diverse as Canada.”

The deadline to apply is now11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 15, 2017. The prior deadline was March 6th. The original deadline had been February 20th.