Federal cabinet refires CRTC commissioner Raj Shoan mere days after his return

CRTC sign

Raj Shoan, the CRTC commissioner accused of workplace harassment, has been fired from his job with the telecom watchdog for a second time after returning to work mere days ago on May 1st.

The decision came Thursday evening from the federal cabinet. Following the decision, CRTC CEO and Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais sent an internal memo to staff saying it’s been a “challenging period in the CRTC’s history.”

Shoan, meanwhile, released a statement saying: “I am deeply concerned about the manner in which I have been removed and that I have been further denied procedural fairness.” Shoan alleges he was deprived of any opportunity to discuss the alleged basis for his removal before he was informed of the termination on Thursday evening. He also says he will once again go to Federal Court to challenge the decision.

Shoan, formerly a regional commissioner for Ontario, was first terminated on June 24th, 2016, days after a public hearing regarding the judicial review of a case, initiated in April 2015, that found he harassed a senior staff member over email.

“I am deeply concerned about the manner in which I have been removed and that I have been further denied procedural fairness.”

After Shoan appealed, that verdict was overthrown by the Federal Court in September 2016, with Judge Russel Zinn saying it had turned into a “witch hunt.” Shoan was accused of making “repeated insinuations and unfounded accusations” about Amanda Cliff, an executive director with the CRTC, in 2014. Outside investigator Diane Laurin found those accusations to be true, and CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais took action that ultimately led to Shoan’s dismissal on June 24th.

Shoan was awarded $30,000 CAD in costs, and returned to work on May 1st after a second ruling from the Federal Court that stated Shoan didn’t necessarily receive fair treatment, since he was fired before the judge ruled on the harassment conviction appeal. Justice Cecily Strickland ordered that the decision be revisited, though noted there was reason for legitimate concern over some of Shoan’s actions.

Minister of Heritage Melanie Joly sent Shoan his first warning in February 2016. Issues included not only the workplace harassment allegations, but also accused him of writing negative tweets about the CRTC, disclosing confidential information in court filings, and making inappropriate contact with CRTC stakeholders, like meeting with video-streaming platform Shomi.

Shoan’s departure leaves two regional commissioner roles vacant, while the chairman’s and vice chair’s terms expire in June 2017, meaning significant internal change is on the horizon for the commission.

Update 05/05/17: An earlier version of this post stated the CRTC fired Raj Shoan. This is incorrect, the federal cabinet overseeing the CRTC made the decision. The post has been updated to reflect that fact.

Source: Globe and Mail