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CRTC’s new head will be former Telus executive Ian Scott

CRTC

The federal government has selected Ian Scott, formerly executive director of government and regulatory affairs at satellite company Telesat, to fill the chairman position at Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Scott has 25 years of experience in the telecom industry on both the public and private side having filled positions, at various points in his career, at the Competition Bureau, the CRTC, Telus and Telesat.

At Telus, Scott held the position of vice-president of government relations and was also a registered lobbyist for the company, giving him far more experience on the private side of the industry than his predecessor Blais, a public servant who had previously served roles on the federal Treasury Board Secretariat and Department of Canadian Heritage.

The government’s appointment also shows favour towards the telecom side of the Commission in contrast to selecting a more broadcast-focused candidate.

Michael Geist, telecom analyst and Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-Commerce Law at University of Ottawa, took to Twitter to note that the appointment seems to signal the government’s desire for less confrontation at CRTC, though he also cautioned that “there is history of people surprising once become independent commissioners/chairs.”

Specifically, he cited Blais, who was initially expected to be “conciliation-minded type who would seek compromise on issues rather than strike out independently with bold initiatives,” in the words of The Globe and Mail, but was viewed as much the opposite by the end of his term.

Previously in his career, Scott encountered allegations of conflict of interest when he left Telus to join the CRTC in 2007 and 2008 as a chief policy advisor due to his name turning up on the lobbyist registry — though he roundly refuted any wrongdoing.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is also gaining Caroline Simard as vice-chair of broadcast, a position that hasn’t had a permanent appointment since November 2015. Simard came from a position as legal counsel at the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED).

“This is a dynamic team that will bring new vision and leadership to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.”

Additionally, Christianne Laizner is the new interim vice-chair for telecom spot, taking the spot of previous vice-chairperson Peter Menzies. Laizner was previously senior legal counsel with the CRTC.

Scott will begin his appointment on September 5th, while Simard begins September 11th. Laizner has already stepped into her role as of yesterday, and the government notes that the interim position will span one year.

“This is a dynamic team that will bring new vision and leadership to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission,” said Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly, in a press release.

“Mr. Scott and Dr. Simard have extensive experience in the industry and a deep understanding of what Canadians expect in their telecommunications and broadcasting systems. These leaders will implement a strong vision for the CRTC, focusing on service to Canadians and supporting the production and dissemination of diverse creative content that will lead to the success of our telecommunications, creators and creative industries in the digital era.”

Update 18/07/17 1: Canadian Heritage has publicly confirmed the appointments to MobileSyrup. The article has been updated accordingly.

Update 18/07/17 2: This article has been updated with statement from Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly.

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